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Cheat Sheet

Persuasion & Influence For Dummies

From Persuasion and Influence For Dummies by Elizabeth Kuhnke

Persuasion and influence are key skills both in the world of business and in everyday social life. This Cheat Sheet gives you some key tips on how to up your game in practising persuasion and influence in general, in making a great first impression, and in building rapport with others.

Your Persuasion and Influence To-Do List

This is a list of behaviours for you to adopt that can help you become a person of persuasion and influence. Rather than tackling them all at once, pick one or two to begin with and focus on them for a week or so until you’ve embedded the action into your behaviour.

You might also text yourself an occasional reminder, enlist a friend’s support, or even tape your list to your bathroom mirror so you can look at it every morning and night as you brush your teeth.

  • Show up on time. While some people use the waiting game as a power play, keep this careful thought: Unless you’re the bride (who’s allowed to keep people waiting for a few minutes), show up on time, prepared and ready to go.

  • Dress the part. Like actors at work, look the part you’re playing. Determine what attire is appropriate for the image you want to portray and dress accordingly.

  • Treat others with respect. When you show that you value others, their opinion of you rises, increasing your level of influence and your ability to persuade.

  • Demonstrate a genuine interest in people and projects. People like feeling special, valued and appreciated. If you show your interest in them, they feel good about you. And when people feel good about you, they’re prepared to do what you ask of them.

  • Aim to lessen the other’s load. If you can help someone, do. The person remembers you with positive feelings long after the action. As they says, ‘People may not remember what you said or what you did, but they always remember how you made them feel.’

  • Be generous in your words and actions. Speak well of people and behave with kindness. Acting with negativity tarnishes your reputation. People figure that if you’re saying something bad about one person now, nothing can stop you from speaking negatively about them in the future. Avoid judging and gossiping. Negativity comes back to bite you when you least expect it.

  • Think about your words and actions. Determine which behaviours can get you to your goals and which are likely to keep you from achieving them.

  • Envision the end point. Include as much practical detail as you can in order to energise you and keep you going. When the going gets tough, when you meet set-backs and resistance, having a clear vision of what you’re aiming for helps keep you on track.

  • Make sure your arguments and point of view meet the other person’s needs. People are willing to go along with you as long as they feel responsible for their actions, and not because you manipulated, coerced or bullied them.

Making a Great First Impression

Making a powerful first impression helps enormously with persuasion and influence. Follow these recommendations when you want the impression you make to be the best it can possibly be.

  • Establish and maintain eye contact. When you look someone in the eye, you come across as self-assured and like you mean business. Maintain eye contact 85 per cent of the time during a conversation to appear trustworthy and interested in what the other person’s saying. Avoid staring, because that can make you look intimidating and somewhat creepy.

  • Smile. A warm and friendly smile puts others at their ease and makes you look comfortable and relaxed. When you and the person you want to persuade are at ease and comfortable, you find persuading a lot easier than if you both are feeling tense and uptight.

  • Stand tall. Place your weight evenly on both feet – hip width apart, one foot slightly ahead of the other – to make you look and feel grounded and confident. Instead of slumping, lift up from your waist and chest, imagining that your shoulder blades are meeting at your spinal cord and melting down your back, and hold your head horizontally to give the impression of someone who’s in control.

  • Claim your space. Wherever you are, act like you belong there. If you’re feeling nervous or insecure, silently say to yourself, ‘I’m glad to be here and people want to hear what I have to say.’ Giving yourself encouraging messages makes you feel good about yourself and sends out an upbeat impression.

  • Move with purpose. Fiddling fingers, shuffling feet and darting eyes make you look nervous and ill at ease. Make your gestures and expressions clear and meaningful and when you move, do so with focus and energy.

  • Offer a firm handshake. Whenever you shake someone’s hand, put the best of yourself into the gesture. A limp handshake comes across as uncommitted, while a knuckle-cruncher is painful. Meet the other person’s hand in an upright position, palm to palm with the webbed skin between your thumb and index finger – known as the thenar space – meeting hers.

  • Focus on the other person. Engage in a bit of small talk resembling a tennis match, with each person contributing to the conversation in turn. If you monopolise the conversation, you come across as self-involved and uninterested in the other person.

  • Speak with energy. Your voice conveys an impression of who you are, so make it good. Monotones are uninspiring, and a voice that can’t be heard comes across as uncertain. Although people think faster than they speak, if you stick to about 145 words per minute, loud enough to be heard without blasting your listener’s ear drums, you should be able to maintain people’s attention.

Building Rapport in Relationships

Rapport is about making a two-way connection between people. It is the foundation for any relationship. When it comes to building rapport, size doesn’t matter. You can develop rapport on a one-to-one basis or with a group of thousands. Great leaders understand the value of rapport in persuading people to adopt their suggestions and in directing their behaviours. Follow these principles to establish rapport:

  • Seek connection. Get to know the other person. Take a genuine interest in her. Find out who she is and where she comes from. Uncover what she enjoys doing at work and at play. The more you know about someone – including background, attitudes and values – the more points you have for finding where you connect.

  • Reflect back what you observe. Notice how she breathes and match your pattern to hers. Pick up on the key words and favourite phrases she uses in her conversation and subtly build these into your own.

    Pay attention to the way she likes to handle information. Is she a detail person or does she talk about the big picture? When you speak, replicate her patterns in yours. Adopt a similar stance to hers in your gestures, expressions and postures.

  • Give her the benefit of the doubt. Believe that whatever she intends to convey is for the good, even if her words and actions may not always seem to support this belief. By treating her as if her heart was in the right place, you’re more likely to establish rapport than if you don’t.

  • Treat the other person’s resources with respect. Time, energy, favourite people and money are important to people.

  • Stay in the flow. Rapport is a process not a state. You may fall in and out of rapport several times during the course of a conversation or meeting. Indeed, you may want to break rapport at certain times such as when you have a task to complete, need to speak with someone else, or just want to end the conversation. But like switching on and off a light, you can reconnect whenever you need or want to.

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