Persuading Others

An excerpt on persuading others from Brian Tracy's Speak to Win

The key to success in a meeting is for you to be persuasive. It lets you affect the direction of the discussion and influence the final decisions and conclusions with your input.

To be persuasive in a meeting, the meeting participants must like you. To be liked, you must be likeable. People must willingly support you and approve of your ideas and your positions. The key to increasing your influence and persuading others to support and agree with you is simple: Make others feel important.

There are six things ("the six As") you can practice to make others feel more valuable in a meeting or any other social or business situation. They are essential if you want to speak to win.

Persuading Others Step 1. Acceptance. One of the deepest human needs is to be unconditionally accepted by others. You express your acceptance of others by looking directly at them and smiling, both when they come in and when they say something or contribute to the meeting. This makes the individual feel valuable and important.

It raised his or her self-esteem and improves his or her self-image. It also causes the person, at a subconscious level, to want to support you in the things you suggest or say.

Persuading Others Step 2. Appreciation. Any time that you express appreciation to other people for anything that they have done or said, you raise their self-esteem and increase your likeability in their eyes. The easiest way to express appreciation is simply to say thank you for anything the person does or says that is helpful or constructive. You can thank people for arriving on time. You can thank people for contributing a piece of information. You can thank people for making a comment and for assisting or correcting you.

Whenever you thank someone for anything, you encourage that person to repeat the behavior and to make even more valuable contributions. When a person is thanked, he feels more valuable, respected, and important. The words thank you are powerful in building your likeability and ensuring that others cooperate with you and support your positions.

Persuading Others Step 3. Admiration. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Everyone likes a compliment." When you compliment people on anything that they do or say, or on any of their possessions, they feel more valuable and important, and they like you more as a result.

Continually look for ways to compliment people. You can admire a person's briefcase, purse, or pen. You can admire an item of his clothing or appearance. If he presents a piece of information, you can compliment him on how excellent it looks or sounds. Even looking at a person, smiling, and nodding in complimentary way can cause him to feel more valuable and important and like you and support you when you propose something later.

Persuading Others Step 4. Approval . You may have heard the saying "Babies cry for it and grown men die for it." People need approval from others, especially people whom they look up to and respect.

Every time you give praise and approval of any kind to anyone for any reason, you raise that person's self-esteem, improve her self-image, and make her feel better about herself and about you.

The keys to giving approval are to make it both immediate and specific. When someone contributes something of value or presents a piece of helpful information to the group, immediately praise the information by saying something like, "this is very good work." Be specific, like "These figures are very impressive. They look great."

The more that you praise and approve the work and contributions of other people, the more and better contributions they will make, and the more they will like you and support your ideas and points of view later.

Persuading Others Step 5. Attention. People always pay attention to people and things that they most value. As the saying goes, life is the study of attention. Whenever you pay close attention to another person, he or she feels more valuable and important. They key to paying attention is to listen closely when another person speaks and not to interrupt. Look at the person directly and hang on every word. Nod, smile, and agree as if what the other person is saying is extraordinarily important and insightful.

When others feel that they are being closely listened to, their self-esteem goes up. Their brains release endorphins, and they feel happier and more positive about themselves and their work.

They associate you with this good feeling, and your influence over them goes up tremendously.

Persuading Others Step 6. Agreement. The final A that you can practice in any meeting with any number of people is to be generally agreeable with others. You can be agreeable even if you disagree with someone's point of view.

When someone says something or makes a point that you don't agree with, instead of challenging him (which puts him on the defensive and makes him angry) say something like, " That is an interesting point. I had not thought of that before. It clashes a bit with my own idea, but I would like to understand it better."

If you must disagree, use what is called "Third-Party Disagreement." Instead of saying, "I disagree with you," you can say, "That is an interesting point. How would you answer the question that another person might ask if he or she were to challenge this point by saying such and such a thing?"

In other words, put your disagreement into the mouth of a nonexistent third party. Ask the person to defend his point of view to a person who is not present. This takes the pressure off of the individual and it enables him to defend his point of view without having to feel defensive or under attack by anyone in that particular meeting.

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