Many of us wish we could be more persuasive. We think about how great it would be if people truly listened to our ideas and easily got on-board to help make them a reality. We wouldn’t have to deal with protracted debates or decision-making processes. Things would just be easier, and we could get more of what we want, right?
Perhaps some of that is true. The rest of it, however, is a bit pie-in-the-sky and very oriented towards self-benefit. I believe there’s something bigger at stake with being persuasive than just getting our way. If we understood how to better influence the people around us, we’d be able to have a greater positive impact on our teams, organizations and communities as leaders.
Here are five tips for how to be more persuasive as a leader:
Establish credibility: Although skills and competence aren’t everything, they do matter. People listen to those who are good at what they do and have a positive track record. Credibility can be established even before you ever take a job or lead a project, simply by your education, training or previous experience. Once in a job, you can cultivate it through a few quick wins and successes, and then solidify it by consistent positive performance and follow-through.
Build rapport: If you haven’t first created a personal connection with someone, it can be awfully hard to persuade them of something. Why? Because they have less of an incentive to get outside of their own perspective in order to be curious about yours. But, if they respect and appreciate you as a person, they’ll be more likely to exercise empathy during dialogue and debate. This, in turn, can cause them to adopt your perspective or actively partner in creating a compromise.
Listen for what matters most: One of the strongest ways to become more persuasive is to get good at listening for what really matters to others. What parts of their role do they see as most crucial? What general ideals do they value most? What’s their underlying purpose for doing what they’re doing? These insights help you find common interests between your aims and theirs, and to craft communication that appeals to those areas of commonality.
Speak their language: The next level of attentiveness involves picking up on how others speak about certain topics, issues or decisions. Once you’re clued into this, you can – at the very least – ensure that you don’t use language that’s in major opposition to that or is off-putting in any way. At best, you can use some of their terminology to strengthen the resonance of your message.
Cultivate confidence: Confidence is a magnetic force, attracting support and belief from others. But it’s not always easy to authentically project outwardly. In order to truly claim a strong and self-assured voice, you may need to do some deeper inner work to explore the various sources of (and barriers to) confidence. But regardless, when trying to be persuasive, make sure you fully believe in the position for which you’re advocating. This will translate into greater conviction and confidence.