At work or at home, we are forevermore negotiating with spouses, bosses, customers, co-workers, our kids—engaging in give-and-take, compromising over whom to invite for the holidays, when is bedtime, and exchanging ideas with colleagues, often in deep conversation, over job duties, raises and compensation, and how to kill the competition.

A successful outcome is not always assured, but using persuasion techniques to influence others heightens chances of a mutually satisfactory outcome. Daniel Pink, the noted author and social observer, in his 2012 book, To Sell Is Human, which explores the power of selling, describes it this way: “… we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”

So let’s take a look at a handful of persuasion tips which you may find useful when the time comes to influence someone. Several of the tips are courtesy of Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984). The book continues to exert influence (ahem) over people in sales, marketing, retail, customer service and many disciplines that depend on “moving others.”

Disclosure: learning about the methods of persuasion can also offer insights into how and when they're being used on you.

1. Framing is the process of defining the context or issues involving a problem or event in a way that influences how the context or issue is seen and evaluated. It relies on perceived gains and losses, effectively magnifying the losses or gains possible , depending upon the desired outcome. Framing is an essential and inevitable part of communication between people.

Politicians sometimes use framing, very skillfully. For example, those on both sides of the immigration debate cite their positions as advocates for immigrant groups who think human rights require the United States to allow anyone who shows up on its border to remain in the country and be granted citizenship vs anti-immigration activists who favor building higher fences and beefing up the border patrol.

Framing subtly uses emotionally charged words to shift people towards your point of view.

To frame a persuasive argument, select words that conjure positive, negative or neutral images in the minds of those you need to influence.

2. Scarcity is frequently used by advertisers to make opportunities seem more appealing because they have limited availability. The assumption is that if a product is scarce, there must be a ton of demand for it! (Buy one now because they're selling out fast). Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers on a company’s web site are available for a limited time only encourages ordering—now.

3. Rapport is like empathy. It is sharing someone else’s experience, which is what communication means. Rapport is meeting people on their own level so they feel understood and appreciate how you’ve treated them. With rapport, you’ve gained their trust and established credibility.

You’ll recognize rapport with another by a certain level of comfort... a sense of shared understanding. When people identify with each other, they cooperate—the very essence of influence.

Key to gaining rapport is pacing, or holding a mirror up to people so that what they see, hear, and feel is consistent with their experience of themselves. It is becoming like other people so that you get their attention, friendship, and help. It is being “in-synch” with another. When you pace another, you’re, in effect, saying: “I’m like you. You’re safe with me. You can trust me.”

You can pace and mirror another’s:

  • Mood
  • Body Language
  • Rate Of Speech
  • Tone
  • Volume
  • Words, Phrases, And Images
  • Beliefs And Opinions
  • Breathing Patterns

We all do these subconsciously, and if you pay attention you'll probably notice yourself doing it.

But be subtle about it and delay a few seconds between the other person's movement and your mirroring.

4. The law of reciprocity is when you do something for someone, or give them something, and the other person feels compelled, as in obligated, to return the favor. During the holidays, I had lunch with a work friend. I took along a nicely wrapped bottle of Martinelli’s applecider for him and his wife to enjoy, and gave it to him when we sat down. Surprisingly, he wound up picking up the tab. So, if you want someone to do something nice for you, why not do something nice for them first?

Next time you need to work with someone, at work or home, to get their cooperation—to “move them”, try framing your position in the kind of positive statement that appeals to their interests. Seek rapport by mirroring and pacing the other person by closely watching their physical movements. And give them something—you’ll be surprised how readily they look for ways to return the favor. Have fun with these and look for opportunities to stand should to shoulder with the person you seek to influence.

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