In general people don’t like to sell, yet we find ourselves having to “sell” our ideas and reasons on a daily basis. Every day you are persuading. This morning you persuaded yourself to go to the gym, then you persuaded a colleague to help you, then you tried to persuade a friend into going to lunch, and then you persuaded your boss to consider your idea.

How to Persuade in 7 Simple Steps

We all persuade, the question is…are you effective at it?

To persuade someone means to induce them to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; to convince them of something.

It’s important to note that persuasion is not manipulation. The difference is the intent. Manipulation is forcing someone to do something that is not in their own interest. Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefits you.

It’s an art because people are hesitant to “being sold” or told what to do. Persuading without tact or thoughtfulness won’t win people over. Persuasion must be studied, practiced and carefully executed.

Here’s how to persuade in seven simple steps.

1. Be credible

Why would anyone listen to you? Are you trustworthy? Are you competent? Are you hard working? Persuasion starts with trust. Your appearance and reputation are factored in before you ever open your mouth. Put yourself in the shoes of those you want to persuade, what is their impression of you. Would you buy-in to you? Imagine the persuasion process as a bank. You must deposit into your brand and those around you before you have enough invested to ask for a withdrawal.

(Note: In a world of social media, your online brand matters as much as your offline brand. Manage your social accounts carefully. Ensure you are adding value to others through thoughtful posts, blogs, comments, etc.)

2. Know the why

Why do you want to or need to persuade someone? Spend time on the front end getting clarity on the purpose of your persuasion and what exactly your ask will be.

3. Find common ground

It’s easy for others to dismiss your persuasion if you have no personal or emotional connection with them. Get to know those who you want to persuade so that you can establish emotional bonds and identify shared objectives that you can build upon. Demonstrate empathy and make it known that you are on their side. Once common ground is established, you are positioned to capitalize on consensus.

4. Ask questions (focus on others)

Demanding puts people on the defense. Asking questions opens them up to possibilities. Asking questions will help you identify common ground and clarify any hesitation or objections.

5. Listen

Be an active listener. If you get rejection, follow it up with more questions. Listen carefully to identify points of agreement and alignment as well as the individual’s primary objection.

6. Provide value and ask

Now that you’ve uncovered the alignment and/or objection. Communicate what’s in it for them. Speak to the value that your idea/initiative offers to reinforce the alignment or how it can alleviate their objection. Then ask for their decision or participation.

7. Be patient and give space

Often immediacy and urgency are enemies of persuasion. Significant decisions require time and thought. Be sure to give others the space and time to carefully consider your proposal. The most powerful persuaders bring others along in their own time.

In conclusion, start small and persuade a colleague on a lunch location. Then persuade a peer to help you with a project. Then go bigger and persuade your boss or team to consider a new idea or initiative.

Question: What are your best practices for persuasion?