Persuasiveness pervades almost every aspect of our life. Either you’re being persuaded or you’re trying to be persuasive yourself. Whether it’s in a relationship, communicating with a spouse or a child, marketing a product, selling something, teaching a class, or talking to your boss, a co-worker, or someone that works for you—life is full of persuasion. Those that master the art of persuasion wield great power. Not just power in the raw, unfeeling sense, but power to influence, power to affect the lives of others, power to push ideas, concepts, power to promote action, and power to affect change.

Whatever motivation lies behind your need to persuade, there’s one critical but highly underestimated element: listening.

When we think of persuasion, we tend to think of grand orations or a spirited sales pitch. But much of the secret to success of highly persuasive people lies in their respect for the power of listening.

Persuasive people pause, ask, and listen. This leaves them able to customize their message to the individual.

If you turn the table, we all have our own ways of being persuaded. With some, it’s logic or a list of features. Some respond best to an appeal to emotion. With some, it might simply be a personal connection—they feel like you understand them, and therefore earn their trust. With others, it might be enthusiasm. Some are persuaded by fear, while others are motivated by the promise of gain. Some respond to humor, while others prefer facts and a more businesslike style.

The point is that every human being you interact with can be persuaded. The key is to find the specific approach to appeal to that unique individual, and that can only be determined by listening.

Know what questions to ask, listen to their answers, and customize your conversation to that individual. This requires superior knowledge of your material, leaving your mental faculties free to focus on packaging it correctly. But when you master the art of listening, you’re one step closer to being successfully persuasive.


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