Persuasion Skills:   Influencing and Persuading Others

This is the first of two articles on effecting change. This time it's external change, which simply denotes change in which you must engage other people to be an active participant, where they must listen to your suggestions in order for that change to take effect. That is, you use your persuasion skills to convince others. Another example is that perhaps you really believe that there should be no war no matter what. In such a case, you would also want to effect external change and be influencing other people.

Set an example. One of the most effective persuasion techniques to persuade others and effect external change is to act in the way that you would like others to act. For instance, if you would like people to work hard, then you yourself should work hard. Not just doing it to display that you work hard, but because you really believe that people should work hard. Similarly, if you feel that people should be courteous, you should speak to people courteously; if you feel people should exercise every morning, you should exercise every morning, and so forth. 

If people admire your efforts, or even if they see you do it often enough, they will often imitate what they feel is worthy of imitation.

Children especially are prone to what adults do. You may not know that they are watching, but they definitely can imitate the actions, concerns, and habits that adults have. Even children under five years old can probably be influenced just by observing what others are doing. You need not say a single word and they will absorb it. So, if you would like your children to study hard, you should be setting an example yourself, and not be watching TV everyday. 

Hint at the change. If you want to write a story or talk about something, you always have the option of applying persuasion and effecting change. Do so subtly enough that people will not feel that you are giving them a lesson, but do it apparently enough that they understand it. However, do not try to give too many messages at a time. A single message at the end of a story, talk, or speech is really more than enough, as it takes energy and time for people to digest it. 

Enlist the help of others when persuading. For some people, no matter what you say, they will ignore it. However, they may believe other people more. Therefore, you may want to enlist the help of someone whom that person trusts. You may get a much better result that way. Especially with regard to a large issue such as preventing war, you will probably need the effort of thousands and thousands of people. In that case, you would probably want to round up as many people as possible.

Set limits on how much persuasion you will do. Effecting external change and persuading others, though difficult, can be one of the most rewarding projects in which you can engage yourself. You reap the rewards directly by seeing how you have improved one aspect of society, since the new behavior should hopefully make our world a better place. However, you must be careful how often and to whom you try this. You probably would not want to try this on people with whom you are not familiar. Nor would you want to try it on someone who may not follow your advice or good will.

Be patient when trying to persuade and  influence others. It would be especially wise to mention a topic only once if it is a very sensitive issue and you get an extremely negative response from the opposite side. However, if the stake is high, you strongly believe in it, and you know the person well, by all means give the persuasion some effort. Sometimes, it is just a matter of time. Wait a bit, and even if it seems that that person did not seem to accept the suggestion, that person may one day decide to follow it after thinking about it. Just remember, though, you may want to examine your own faults before changing other people's faults. (See Effecting Internal Change:  Self Empowerment and Improvement.)

In summary, to maximize your persuasion ability in order to effect external change and influence other people, try these tactics:

A. Set an example.

B. Hint at the change.

C. Enlist the help of others.

D. Set limits on how much persuasion you will do.

E. Be patient when trying to persuade and influence others.

Life Skills > Communication Skills > Persuasion Skills:   Influencing and Persuading Others


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