There is little doubt that being persuasive can have a big impact on your life and the life of others.  Being able to convince people to do the things that you want or to agree with your ideas can mean the difference between success or, indeed, the opposite.  Persuasive people are able to get you on their side. They are very likeable and you will find yourself drawn to them as well as their ideas and to their way of looking at things.

Maybe this is a manipulative strategy or maybe just a personality trait.  Perhaps some people are just more innately likeable. Maybe some people are just luckier than others, more likely to win at games or competitions or claim a Springbok casino bonus. But, whatever the reason, below are 15 of the things that persuasive people are doing that gives them an advantage and leads to success.

l. They are very in tune with who their listeners are 

The person with persuasive skills knows exactly who he or she is speaking with and makes it their business to learn and understand their language.  They will manage their personality in light of who it is they are speaking with.   If the person is a quiet and shy, they are likely to be less assertive when speaking with them.

On the other hand, if they are feisty and aggressive, they will be more assertive.  Picking up on these personality traits and acting on them is helpful in getting them to listen to you.

2. They connect with people 

Connecting with those people you are speaking with is key.  When people feel they have a connection with you and have some understanding of who you are they are more likely to listen to and accept your point of view. A study performed at Stanford showed that after students had had an opportunity to interact and get to know one another, 90% of the students were able to reach an agreement between them.

Before the interaction took place, only 55% of the students were able to come to an agreement.  The most important factor seems to be the connection you make with the person you are speaking with.  If the person feels some kind of personal connection with you, he or she will more likely be prepared to listen and accept your point of view.

3. They are not aggressive or pushy 

People who understand the art of persuasion are not aggressive in the way they put their point across. They are confident and pleasantly assertive.  Any attempt at forcing your opinion on someone will have them react in a defensive way and will basically push them away.

No one likes a loud mouth.  Persuasive people are calm and confident in the way they promote an idea.  They are patient and not pushy.  Persuasive people have a quiet confidence that gets people to think about what they are saying and ultimately gets them on the same page.

4. They are not tentative in expressing their views 

Persuasive people sound convincing.  They are confident and sure about the idea they are expressing. Overcoming shyness is an important factor in sounding confident about your views.

Try taking yourself out of the equation by presenting points of interest and statements about your idea for them to consider. Certain phrases and words should also not be used when persuading someone to accept your idea, “It could be” or “it’s possible that.” These introduce a lack of sureness and credibility.

5. The importance of positive body language 

Persuasive people are aware of their body language, including their tone of voice, gestures and even expressions. They understand the important of being conscious of these things when engaging with people.  Having an upbeat tone of voice, leaning towards the person you are speaking with and having eye contact.

Your arms should not be crossed in front of you and your body language should be reading ‘openness’ and ‘I’m interested in engaging’.  The art of persuasion encompasses more than just the words you are saying.

6. They know their subject  

The ease with which you are able to communicate your ideas will also determine whether you are able to be persuasive.  When you have a clear and good understanding of your subject it will be easy to share and explain it to someone else.  The more easily you are able to explain your idea, the more likely you will be able to persuade others of its usefulness.

7. Authenticity

Being honest and genuine about who you are is key to being persuasive.  People are drawn to genuine people as they are able to trust them.  People instinctively know when someone is not authentic and they will not trust that person’s ideas as they feel they don’t really know who they are.

When you know who you are, and are comfortable with that, it is easy to be confident and genuine. Persuasive people are being themselves, and not what they think the other person wants them to be. When you are being yourself you will be better able to persuade others.

8. They are willing to step into your shoes

Persuasive people are willing to see your point of view. They are able to see the advantages in acknowledging that maybe they do not have all the answers.  They do not come across as stubborn and unable to see the other’s point of view. On the contrary, they are seen as open minded and willing to consider different ideas.  They will often say “Well, yes you do have point there” or “I see the sense in that”.

This shows that you are genuinely listening and considering their point of view.  People need to feel that they are respected and that their views are being taken into account.  If they feel respected, they are more likely to be prepared to listen to you.

9. Asking questions and showing interest

Not listening to someone when they are talking is common. People are busy thinking about what they are going to say next.   A way to make sure you are listening, is to ask lots of questions.  This way the person feels validated. They know you have heard them and are asking for more information and are interested to hear them.  People will respect and appreciate you for this and be more open to you.

10. Good storytellers

Persuasive people are good storytellers.  They are able to illustrate their ideas and create good images for people to sink their teeth into and are easy to remember.

11. Good first impressions

Studies have shown that people decide within the first few minutes on meeting you whether they like you or not.  Therefore, those few minutes are critical if you are hoping to impress and persuade.  Body language is key here.  Being open, shoulders back, a happy handshake and of course smiling will help to make a good first impression.

12. They know when to back off

Persuasive people know when not to force an issue. Impatience will cause the other person to dig in. It is always better to pull back and know that your idea may need patience and time to seep in slowly. Give the other person some space.

13. They know people’s names

When people use your name to greet you, it immediately draws you in. Persuasive people never fail to use your name each time they meet you. Studies show that people feel validated when you use their name.  Some people do have difficulty remembering names but it is good to make the effort.

14. Persuasive people like to please others

Persuasive people know that it is better to be happy and successful rather than being right. They are prepared to “give in” in order to make the other person feel good and this is important to them.  Ultimately, they will win out because people will like and appreciate them for this.

15. Persuasive people always smile

Persuasive people smile a lot.  Try smiling at someone while they are speaking with you, or even in the supermarket. You will find they will smile back.  Persuasive people believe in themselves and their ideas and therefore they smile a lot.

In conclusion

The the persuasian skills that certain people have in picking up signals from other people and being able to respond appropriately relies mainly on emotional intelligence.  Learning these skills will help us all to become more successful in all our endeavors.