Persuasion is a necessary art for any manager. It can pull people together, move ideas forward, galvanize change, and forge constructive solutions. To do all that, however, people must understand persuasion for what it is – not convincing and selling but learning and negotiating. Furthermore, it must be seen as an art form that requires commitment and practice, especially as today’s business contingencies make persuasion more necessary than ever.

1. Establish credibility

The first hurdle persuaders must overcome is their own credibility. A persuader can’t advocate a new or contrarians position without having people wonder. Can we trust this individual’s perspectives and opinions? Such a reaction is understandable. In the workplace, credibility grows out of two sources: expertise and relationships. People are considered
to have high levels of expertise if they have a history of sound judgment or have proven themselves knowledgeable and well informed about their proposals. People who are known to be honest, steady, and reliable have an edge when going into any persuasion situation.

2. Frame for common ground

Even if your credibility is high, your position must still appeal strongly to the people you are trying to persuade. After all, few people will jump on board a train that will hire them to ruin or even build discomfort. Effective persuaders must be adept at describing their positions in terms that illuminate their advantages.

Remember: Numbers do not make an emotional impact, but stories and vivid language do.

3. Connect emotionally

Good persuaders are aware of the primacy of emotions and are responsive to them in two important ways. First, they show their own emotional commitment to the position they are advocating. Effective persuaders have a strong and accurate sense of their audience’s emotional state, and they adjust the tone of their arguments accordingly.

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The post was inspired by the article The necessary Art of Persuasion written by Jay A. Conger, published in the HBR of May/June 1998