University of Kent
The UK’s European University
PERSUADING involves being able to convince others to take appropriate action. NEGOTIATING involves being able to discuss and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
INFLUENCING encompasses both of these.
These skills are important in many jobs, especially areas such as marketing, sales, advertising and buying, but are also valuable in everyday life. You will often find competency-based questions on these skills on application forms and at interview, where you will be required to give evidence that you have developed these skills.
One scenario where persuading skills can be important is the job interview, but the following tips are valuable in many other settings.
• Focus on the needs of the other party. Take time to listen to them carefully and find out about their interests and expectations. This shows that you are really interested in them and they are then more likely to trust and respect you. It will also make it easier for you to outline the benefits of your proposal in terms they understand.
• Argue your case with logic. Do careful research on your ideas and those of your competitors (if there are any) and make sure that any claims you make can be verified.
• The more hesitant language you use such as «isn’t it», «you know», «um mm» and «I mean» the less people are likely to believe your argument. (Journal of Applied Psychology)
• Use positive rather than negative language: instead of saying «You’re wrong about this», say «That’s true, however …», «That’s an excellent idea, but if we look more deeply …..» or «I agree with what you say but have you considered ….».
• Subtly compliment the other party. For example: «I see that you’ve done some really excellent research into this». Even though they may realise this is being done, evidence shows that they will still warm to you and be more open to your proposals.
• Mirroring the other person’s mannerisms (e.g. hand and body movements). A study at INSEAD Business School found that 67% of sellers who used mirroring achieved a sale compared to 12% who did not. People you mirror subconsciously feel more empathy with you. However, it can be very embarrassing if the other person detects conscious mirroring so it must be very subtle. You need to leave a delay of between two and four seconds before the mirroring action. See our body language quiz for more on this.
• Try to remember the names of everyone you meet. It shows that you are treating them as an individual.
Negotiating to win
This involves pursuing your own interests to the exclusion of others: I win: you lose! Persuading someone to do what you want them to do and ignoring their interests: «keeping your cards hidden». Pressure selling techniques involve this.
Whilst you might get short term gain, you will build up long term resentment which can be very disruptive if you ever need to work with these people again.