Whether you’re convincing your boss to fund your project or your preschooler to put his shoes on, persuasion is a skill that’s instrumental to your success in life.
Persuasive people have an uncanny ability to get you leaning toward their way of thinking. Their secret weapon is likeability. They get you to like more than their ideas; they get you to like them.
Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few -- the good looking, the fiercely social and the incredibly talented. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, being likeable is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).
In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency and capacity for understanding (another person).
These adjectives, and others like them, describe people who are skilled in the social side of emotional intelligence. TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable, they outperform those who don’t by a large margin.
We did some digging to uncover the key behaviors that emotionally intelligent people engage in that make them so persuasive. Here are the tricks of the trade that exceptionally persuasive people use to their advantage:
1. They’re pleasers.
2. They aren’t pushy.
3. They aren’t mousy, either.
4. They know their audience.
Persuasive people know their audience inside and out, and they use this knowledge to speak their audience’s language. Whether it’s toning down your assertiveness when talking to someone who is shy or cranking it up for the aggressive, high-energy type, everyone is different and catching on to these subtleties goes a long way toward getting them to hear your point of view.
5. They paint a picture.
6. They use positive body language.
7. They smile.
8. They acknowledge your point of view.
9. They ask good questions.
10. They use your name.
11. They form connections.
People are much more likely to accept what you have to say once they have a sense of what kind of person you are. In a negotiation study, Stanford students were asked to reach agreement in class. Without instruction of any kind, 55% of the students successfully reached agreement. However, when students were instructed to introduce themselves and share their background before attempting to reach agreement, 90% of the students did so successfully. The key here is to avoid getting too caught up in the back and forth of the negotiation. The person you are speaking with is a person, not an opponent or a target. No matter how compelling your argument, if you fail to connect on a personal level, he or she will doubt everything you say.
12. They are genuine.
13. They know when to pull back.
Bringing It All Together
Persuasive people are adept at reading and responding to other people. They rely heavily on emotional intelligence (EQ) to bring people to their way of thinking. With 90% of top performers high in emotional intelligence, it’s no wonder that persuasive people rely on this skill to get ahead. Add these skills to your repertoire, and you’re on your way to joining this exclusive group.
A version of this article appeared on TalentSmart.