Convincing. A special Art. An unusual Art. An interesting Art. But above all, an Art. (No, I’m not in need of a grammar lesson. It is such an in-depth form that it must be referred to as an Art. An art simply won’t do. It doesn’t have that air of royalty.) How many times have we had to sweet-talk our way out of trouble? How many times have we had to persuade our siblings to do something? How many times have we had to prove our point to others? Go ahead, I can wait till you finish counting.
Just the other day, my friend and I were discussing an exam we’d attempted. Here’s how the conversation went:
Friend: Hey Niru, what answer did you mark for Q.3?
Me: 3? I marked Option C!
Friend: No, you’re wrong! It’s D!
Me: No – because the sine of 90 is equal to 1 and multiply that by the root of 2 and divide it by 4, 4 times and multiply that with the first equation to get option C. (My actual lecture was longer and more confusing. I merely shortened it for this post. Ask my friends. :D)
My friend shrugged, and absolutely convinced that her answer was wrong, went to consult the math teacher.
There’s always that moment when you simply have to convince someone. When you desperately need to persuade them. There’s a whole art behind it. Convincing someone can be really easy if only you know how to do it.
I’m going to break this down into four steps.
1. ‘Setting Up For Success.’
Planning is essential. I do not, by any chance, mean elaborate and detailed schemes. You’ve got to be ready before you even try convincing people. You’ve got to appear confident. That is key to being persuasive. If you aren’t sure, why should they be? Stand up straight, look people in the eye, smile, and keep your voice even and enthusiastic to exude confidence. To do that, you’ve also got to know what you’re talking about. Do the research. Spend some time getting to know the subject. While you’re at it, prepare for the arguments against yours. Almost everybody in this world will have a contradicting opinion, and you have to be able to argue against them. That doesn’t mean you can go about shouting or whining at them – stay calm at all times and just be steady in your persuasive manner.
“You’ll be fine.”
2. ‘Reading the Audience.’
Evaluate how they think of themselves. Do they think of themselves as educated, logical people? Do they view themselves in a more emotional manner? How they see themselves will heavily influence what type of evidence you show them when you try to persuade them. Try subtly introducing the topic to find out what they think about it and note the reactions – body language or facial expressions. Observe them but don’t let it worry you. That will give you insight on how to approach them later. You should be ready to change your methods as necessary. If you really want to be persuasive, you have to be able to change your tactics at a moment’s notice. This means practice and it means being flexible and it means thinking things through before you go into them.“Being able to react the right way to your audience’s feelings can make all the difference.”
3. ‘Engineering the Environment.’
You have to pick the right time to talk to the person. Trying to convince your mom to get you that new video game when she’s just back from a tiring day at work isn’t really going to win you any points. There’s a right time and place for everything. Choose carefully. Once you’ve found the right time and gained their attention, work hard to keep them engaged. A bored audience isn’t a swayed audience. Besides, rush them to make a decision! Make it seem as though the decision can be taken within a short period of time.“The less time they have to think about it, the less time they have to realize they don’t really like the idea.”
4. ‘Sealing The Deal.’
You’ve prepared. You’ve picked the right environment. You’ve delivered. Now you’ve got to make sure that no one backs out. You’ve got to seal the deal. The best way to begin doing this is to cultivate your language. Use ‘we’ or ‘us’ instead of ‘you’, ‘me’ or ‘I’. It causes the audience to view you as a single unit with the same interests, rather than two separate people. Use lots of evidence. It’s hard to argue with someone who has a lot of facts backing their statements. Appeal to their logic or emotions depending on what you’ve observed.“Always – always, show them what’s in it for them.”
There you go. You might ask, ‘What if this doesn’t work?’ Well, if Plan A doesn’t work – go to Plan B. I always have a Plan B for convincing people.
(Sound the fanfare! The trumpets! The drums….roll out the red carpet!)
Plan B:Confuse them.
Yes, confuse them. Ironically, most people will simply agree with you if they don’t understand what you say. They might be the only one who always opposes you – but if you are clever enough to just about confuse them – you can pull them to your side.
“If you can’t convince him, confuse him. Both will get you the same results.”
Remember the conversation I mentioned when I started? It turns out that my friend was right, and I knew that all along. I knew that I was wrong, yet I managed to convince her that I was right. Or at least confuse her into believing I was right. That’s what effective convincing can get you.
Convincing is an Art.
Catch you later!