Persuasion can bring you benefits in all domains of life. Whether it’s getting your children to do home chores or closing a deal, the potential of persuasion is almost endless.
But how to become more persuasive? Persuasion is not magic. On the contrary, it has been thoroughly studied, and research provides some useful insights you can use to convince others of your arguments.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Peripheral Cues
According to an influential 1986 study titled “The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion” we take two routes to make decisions. We use the first one when we are able (or willing) to weigh carefully all possibilities. We resort to the second one when we are unmotivated or unable to think thoroughly. The second route is based not on structured arguments but on peripheral cues. So, don’t underestimate the persuasive power of small hints such as dressing well or projecting an image of authority.
Use the Door-in-the-Face Technique
The next time you have to ask a favor, consider asking for a far more inconvenient alternative first. This way the actual favor you need will seem more reasonable and the other person will be more likely to accommodate you.
This strategy, known as the Door-in-the-Face technique is backed by research. In a now classic study researches asked a group of college students to volunteer as camp counselors for two hours a week for two years. After they predictably rejected the request, the students were presented with an alternative: Supervising a two-hour trip. Among the students who didn’t hear the first request only 17% agreed to supervise the trip. On the other hand, a whopping 50% among those who heard both requests accepted the second one.
Use Eye Contact Wisely for Increased Persuasion
That eye contact is a sign of confidence and an effective persuasion tool seems almost conventional wisdom by now. However, research indicates that it may be best to use this device sparingly. In a 2013 study, researchers asked participants to watch videos of speakers expressing views on controversial issues. Greater attention at the speaker’s eyes was associated with less attitude change on the part of those who participated in the study. This suggests that eye contact may actually make you less persuasive, probably because our brains interpret it as a threat.
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