12 Persuasion Techniques That Work In The Real World.

  • By: Phil Taylor
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Use these persuasion techniques to get others to jump on board, agree with your argument, buy your product or idea, or say yes to your sales pitch. That’s what you’re aiming for, that “yes.”

One part body language, one part logic, one part word choice… these techniques can help you get that “yes” more quickly, easily, and readily.

Persuasion is not manipulation; it’s not harassing, badgering, pushing, or scamming. Those are in an entirely different category. It’s about getting others to see the benefits of doing something that benefits them and you.

If you are interested in persuasion we also took a deep dive into how to persuade someone to your point of view check it out here.

First Things First Persuade The Persuadable

We start with the obvious. Persuasion techniques will only work on the persuadable. If the person has an interest in it (or need/want of it), and the means to do it, then he or she is persuadable.

Interest is a must. For example, you wouldn’t catch most people open to winter swimming -jumping into a frozen lake in the dead of winter in their skivvies. But to an extreme sports lover, he just might be up for it. Having the means is also a must. Interest alone won’t cut it (but you’ll most likely find that people can “come up” with those means if their interest factor is high). So when you want to persuade think about what is in it for them. Can you add value or exchange value? Do you have an agenda?

How You Show Up (Your Mood)

Being able to identify who you are as a person and how that leads to how you interact with others is important when persuading someone. Depending on the situation, it’s important to alter your behavior and thoughts accordingly.

A common persuasion tip is to smile, as this will trigger positive reactions in the other person. Mirror neurons are activated and they can mirror the individual’s actions, which is a good way for relationships to grow. Smiling will really help in negotiations. It will lower their guard and make them more susceptible to your views in the end.

Remember Everyone’s Name

Everyone’s name is important to them, you should make sure to remember it. It can be easy to forget people’s names as you get busy. That’s why I always try to use a trick like repeating their name back three times when I introduce myself and use it at points in the conversation. I also try to imagine a close friend or family member with the same name doing something silly with them at the moment. There is a brilliant book called: “How To Remember Names and Faces” by Harry Lorayne the book cover memory retrieval techniques. It can improve interpersonal relations by improving memories of people’s names and faces- that way you won’t forget them! This technology can also help you with pitching ideas to others more effectively.

Voice Tone & Cadence

Voice tone and cadence are key parts of persuasion. You don’t want to sound aggressive or tentative when trying to negotiate or make a point with somebody.

Voice tone defines a speaker’s attitude and cadence tells the listener what to expect. Neither should be an abrupt change from the other.

The tone of a speaker’s voice and the cadence of their speech should never be an abrupt change from one another. When the tone changes suddenly it can confuse the listener and disrupt their attention span. The same goes for cadence – if it switches from slow to fast, it will take them time to get back in sync with what you are saying. Chris Voss ex FBI negotiator and author of Never Split The Difference recommends we use the late-night FM DJ voice in a low soft tone, smooth language almost hypnotic.

The below video should give you a good idea about how to use your tone and cadence plus more tips.

Frame Your Ideas & Answers

When it comes to persuasion techniques, framing is key. This one is all in the presentation. When you’ve concluded that someone is persuadable, determine how you want your message to be perceived. You can encourage certain interpretations and discourage others by the way you word it.

Most messages are presented in terms of loss or gain. Gain-framed messages highlight the benefits of taking a specific action, whereas loss-framed messages emphasize the negative outcomes of failing to take an action. Whether to use a gain-framed or loss-framed message depends on what the matter at hand is, and what your recipient is motivated by: gain or loss?

Gain-framed messages work well in advertising and sales. Think of the many pitches we get on a daily basis from advertisers trying to sell us on their product. Unless you live on a deserted island, they’re inescapable. And they work. Most people do want to be pretty, thin, and fashionable. They want to drive a cooler car, get rid of acne, and own the latest apple i-phone.  Gain-framed messages drive successful sales and motivate people to take action.

Loss-framed messages tend to be most effective in the realm of finance and health. For example, pitches such as “Protect your nest egg from con artists!” and “10 common cancer-causing foods!” are likely to get most people’s immediate attention and garner a specific action.

Choose a loss-framed or gain-framed approach that will get the attention of your recipient.

Small Confessions

Confessing small intimate information is a great way to build some trust with people.

A confession with an element of truth will work best because of the authenticity that will automatically show in your behavior when you make them. A confession with an element of truth will work best because of the authenticity that will automatically show in your behavior when you make them.

Smaller confessions that are universal experiences can create rapport because the person you’re trying to persuade can relate to your situation and sentiment. They will also tell you a lot about the person in front of you if they’re buying into what you are saying.

Mirroring & Matching

We like people who are like us. We trust people who are like us. This proven persuasion technique is unbelievably powerful in building rapport. When you mirror, you send your recipient the distinct message that you are like him, which makes him like and trust you more.

As the name suggests, you subtly “mirror” their movements and echo their word choice, doing what they do, and using similar words and phrases that they use. Be careful not to replicate directly, or they’ll catch on and get suspicious.

Use variants. If they shift their position, wait 3 seconds and then shift yours. If they scratch their cheek, wait for a beat, then scratch your nose. If they sniff, wait for a second and then clear your throat.

When you’ve established a good rapport with someone, you’ll start to see them mirror you, which is really cool. This is a great technique to use, not just to persuade someone, but sometimes to just connect with someone, get them to open up to you, and build a solid relationship.

(You can observe this unconscious behavior with others. Watch friends with good rapport interact and you’ll notice it.)

Scarcity & Urgency

The scarcity of something raises its value. If there is only a limited number or amount of something, people will likely scramble to get it. Remember when Hostess went out of business? People were literally hoarding the stuff. People were auctioning Twinkies and Sno balls on eBay for crazy amounts… and people were buying. Scarcity raises value, not only of physical goods. You can create a sense of scarcity for pretty much anything.

Urgency spurs people to act fast. Creating a sense of urgency is a great motivator if your recipient has a real need.

Be aware that creating scarcity and urgency can sound really “sales pitchy.” Consumers can smell a marketing tactic from a mile away, and even in a non-sales scenario you’ll just seem pushy. If you use these two, don’t push them too hard. Just point them out when making your case, give your recipient the facts, and give them some breathing room. 

Active Listening

In pondering persuasion techniques, there’s an important one that is often ignored. Persuasive people know that pushing their point and hogging the floor will get them nowhere. Aggressively pushy people are just turnoffs and most people will get defensive or angry.

Practice active listening, which can be both courteous and stealthy at the same time. If your recipient has something to say, really listen to them instead of nodding your head while really you’re just thinking of the next thing you plan to say or the next point you want to make.

Listening to someone’s story can be difficult, especially if you’re asked a lot of complex questions. Tilting your head during these types of moments will convey your curiosity and help show interest in the story.

When you listen actively, you can better identify objections and needs. The person you’re trying to persuade will tell you everything you need to know in order to win her. If she tells you her objections, you’ll know what to resolve. You’ll know how to adjust your approach to make her see how you can fit her needs. And particularly listen for points of agreement, moments you can seize to again point out how you are alike.

By listening you’re also deepening rapport with them and gaining trust. Those things count toward who people will buy from, invest time and energy in, and maintain a relationship with. All the persuasion techniques in the world won’t work if your recipient doesn’t like you.

Speak Their Language

Take into consideration why someone is feeling a certain way. Information about the sensory input channels they are most interested in will help you connect with them.

  • Visual
  • Auditory (hearing)
  • Kinesthetic (feeling or touching words)
  • Audio-digital ( inner feelings and thinking about things)

Listen to how they talk about the world. Finding out what their main sensory channels are will give you insight into how they behave internally and externally. Adjust your language accordingly (mirror & match).

When you watch an interview on YouTube get a piece of paper and start noting down the sensory words they are using and adjectives.

Tracking your blink rate can give you a good idea of how your stress levels are at. The average human blink rate varies from seventeen to twenty-five times per minute.

As we become interested or otherwise engrossed in something, our blink rates can slow down significantly. During stressful times, emotional pressure, or during moments of great stress and emotional arousal, our blink rate can increase to as high as fifty per minute.

As your conversation progresses keep an eye on their blink rate. A slow blink rate is a sign they’re engaged in the discussion. If you see alternating rates, it’s time to employ some persuasion techniques.

Breath Slow And Deep

Relaxing the body and mind while breathing is key to achieving a more relaxed state. Instead of breathing in our chests, which heightens emotional reactions, try deep abdominal breathing. If you find yourself feeling stressed, try taking a step back and reflecting on how you reacted when you felt relaxed. It can be reassuring to know that breathing into our stomachs can have an impact on our behavior.

Persuasion Quick Tips

  • Do keep the “fillers” to a minimum. Fillers refers to words and phrases uttered in speech that don’t affect the message, but rather are used as the speaker gathers his thoughts.. These are words such as “uh,” “er,” “like,” and “um.” These fillers -though the speaker may be confident and convinced of his message- tend to be perceived by the recipient as evidence of uncertainty, of grasping at straws. Your message is only half of the equation. Delivery is just as important. Avoiding fillers will make you appear confident and sure in your message.
  • Do stay cool, calm, and collected. An excess of emotion can appear as a desperate attempt, and your recipient will instantly gain the upper hand. No one’s going to be fully persuaded by an amateur. If you want to convince, you have to appear level-headed and authoritative in your message. No amount of persuasion techniques will cut it if you don’t appear cool and confident.
  • Do make your presentation a subconsciously positive experience for your recipient by anchoring it to a previous positive experience (a happy memory), or by introducing a scent, food, fabric, music, or favorite sight, (something tangible of our 5 senses) you know your recipient likes. (This is sort of a black hat tactic. If you get caught, you didn’t hear it from me, okay?)

Quick Notes

  • Persuade the persuadable. Nobody’s going to sell sawdust to a lumber mill. Focus on those who have a need that you can fill. Those who have a need, interest, and means, (however slight) are persuadable.
  • How you show up is important. Remember to smile and be nice to everyone you meet. You’re constantly on show.
  • Remembering their name is important to build rapport and personal relationships.
  • Voice tone and cadence to create a hypnotic rhythm within your speech
  • Use framing in your presentation. Frame your argument or pitch with an emphasis on loss or gain. Should you highlight the benefits of the action you want them to take? Or point out the consequences of failing to take any action?
  • Make others like and trust you by subtly mirroring their movements. We like and trust others who are like us.
  • Practice active listening. One part courteousness, one part cleverness. When you know what your recipient needs and what his objections or concerns are, you can adjust your approach to help him see how your offering is the solution. 
  • Watch your fillers. Keep the “ers,” “ums,” and “you knows” to a minimum.
  • Understand their frame of reference or worldview by paying attention to the way they describe things. Reflect back on how you interpret what is being said in that person’s language.
  • Stay cool.
  • Create a positive anchor so your recipient will connect your message with something pleasant.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning these clever persuasion techniques. You’ll find many other insightful and useful techniques here at Body Language Matters.

My goal is to serve you the freshest, most practical, and valuable tips for using body language for your good in everyday life.