Many of us are taught how to write persuasive essays by the time we reach middle school, and while it may seem unnecessary in that moment, the art of persuasion can be an incredibly valuable tool in the world of business. It can help you find the best employees on the market, gain and maintain new clients, and develop professional relationships that can translate to even more success further down the road.

Persuasive individuals are often extremely personable, likable, and influential, as they intend to be. The defining characteristic of one who is persuasive is that they put other people before themselves. While it is typically a genuine interest in the backgrounds of those who they talk to, it is also a tactic that allows them to better understand the person, thus being able to persuade them much more easily.

Curiosity is the first tool in achieving optimal persuasiveness. Not only should you be curious about the people you interact with on a daily basis, but every aspect of life that you have yet to learn about. This can be translated to a constant strive for continued education. Consult people who may know more about a specific subject than you do, and ask open-ended questions. Not only will you learn from what they have to say, but your genuine curiosity about their knowledge and their lives will persuade them to continue conversing with you; something that can be directly applied to client meetings.

With curiosity comes the need to be an active and effective listener. Give your full attention to whomever you are talking to if you wish to obtain at least a basic understanding of what it is they have to say. Being attentive shows the individual you are speaking to that you value his or her opinion. Give actual feedback rather than simply saying generic phrases like “I agree” or just nodding your head. Repeat what they have said back to them to show that you were and are listening. This can create a sense of trust that allows one to influence others.

Confidently speaking with honesty is a guaranteed way to show your employees or clients that you are a credible person who is most likely willing to admit your mistakes. While there certainly are times where the truth is not what people want to hear, honesty is almost always respected. Similarly, delivering it with confidence validates your position as a leader, manager, or point of contact. Regardless of your rankings within a company, honest, and confident communication can be persuasive to nearly everyone in business.

Persuasive speaking involves finding common ground with your audience regardless of how well you may know them. Though it is certainly easier to persuade an individual you already know and have a relationship with, accept the challenge of trying to persuade someone you have only just met. Whether they are a potential hire, a client, or a professional connection, get to know them and express interest in what they do and what they have to say. These persuasive practices can create lasting business relationships that typically prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run.

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