Persuasion and Influence: Definition (Plus Relevant Skills)
Updated February 3, 2023
A collaborative team gathers around a colleague’s laptop and are seen smiling at what appears on the computer screen.
Successful leaders will often use their influence and persuasive skills to motivate their team members and ensure everyone is working toward the same vision. While persuasion and influence are both leadership skills, there are differences between them. If you aspire to be an effective leader in your organization, then learning how to improve your persuasion skills and increase your influence may interest you.
In this article, we define persuasion and influence, list their benefits, share skills that can help you improve your persuasion and influence and provide tips to help you improve these skills in the workplace effectively.
What is persuasion?
Persuasion is the act of presenting a case in a way that changes another person's opinion, convinces them to believe certain information or motivates them to make a decision. Professionals who practice effective persuasion can convince others to agree with them or take a desired action.
Benefits of persuasion
If you're skilled in the art of persuasion, you may even be able to convince other people to make quick decisions without taking the time to build a significant relationship or a sincere level of trust with them. Mastering persuasion can benefit you by:
Convincing someone to agree with you in the moment
Making it easier to market or sell your goods or services
Helping you build rapport with other people quickly
Improving the likelihood of a successful negotiation
What is influence?
Influence is a part of a person's identity. People often earn influence through their accomplishments, actions or social status. Professionals who have influence may have an easier time persuading other individuals to agree with them, work together toward a specific goal or take a desired action.
Benefits of influence
Having influence can benefit you by:
Helping you develop strong relationships built on trust
Making it easier to achieve long-term goals
Improving your ability to lead an organization
Increasing your confidence and self-esteem
Garnering you public respect and praise
Persuasion and influence skills
Here are some skills that can help you improve your persuasion and influence:
Developing your interpersonal skills can help you build confidence and make you feel more comfortable engaging in face-to-face interactions with other people. Professionals who have strong interpersonal skills may find it easier to initiate conversations, build rapport and connect with others on a meaningful level.
To improve your interpersonal skills, pay attention to how other people in your workplace interact with each other and note with positive qualities you admire. Then, be thoughtful about the ways you can improve your own interactions.
Participating in engaging activities, such as theater, stand up comedy or networking events, can also help you practice your interpersonal skills while having fun and meeting new people.
Having strong communication skills can help you develop persuasive arguments and build your influence over time. To build a strong communication skill set, practice sharing your ideas clearly and concisely by using simple language and a vocabulary that is easy for others to understand.
You can also pay attention to your facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice when you’re speaking with others. This can help you ensure your nonverbal cues align with the statements you make and help you engage with other people.
Logic and deductive reasoning
Using logic and deductive reasoning to support your claims can help you build more effective persuasive arguments. Take the time to analyze the situation and critically think about the most sensible solution before offering your advice.
You can also research a specific topic before you engage in a conversation to ensure you have the knowledge and facts to provide a well-rounded viewpoint.
To strengthen your logical thinking skills and deductive reasoning capabilities, consider spending time on creative hobbies, puzzles or problem-solving games. You can also practice questioning things in your daily life to help you view situations from different perspectives and hone your research skills.
Being aware of other people's emotions and interpreting them correctly is another important skill. Having a high level of emotional intelligence can help you relate to others, personalize your messaging and build trust.
Pay close attention to the way other people react by observing their facial expressions and other nonverbal cues. For example, if someone crosses their arms, offers short responses and glances around the room frequently, it may be a sign that they’re disinterested in your conversation.
In this instance, you might try to change your tone or move onto another topic if you want to reengage the person you’re speaking with. Showing empathy toward other people and attempting to understand how they feel can help you improve your emotional intelligence.
Having strong negotiation skills can help you reach a compromise with other individuals, persuade them to agree with you and apply strategy to your conversations. Identify what the other person values, what their needs are and how they may benefit from agreeing with you.
This can help you develop a more effective argument that appeals to the person you're speaking with. Being willing to compromise or providing alternative offers that still help you achieve your goal can also improve your negotiation tactics.
Being attentive and actively listening to other people when you are having a conversation can help you find common ground, develop more effective arguments and improve your dialogue. Allow other participants in the conversation to share their point of view without interrupting them.
This can help you understand what motivates them, make them feel heard and show you respect their opinion. You can make eye contact with them or nod your head when appropriate to show that you are listening.
When it's your turn to speak, try to repeat parts of what they said in your response to strengthen your position by appealing to their motivations and values.
Using persuasion and influence
Here are some tips to help you use persuasion and influence effectively in the workplace:
Develop strong relationships: Building strong relationships can help you increase your influence, improve trust and make it easier to persuade individuals. Identify common interests to help you develop rapport, offer regular praise, engage in team-building activities and look for opportunities to help cultivate meaningful relationships over time.
Hone your communication skills. Having strong communication skills is essential for professionals who want to develop their persuasion skills and increase their influence. Choose your words carefully, pay attention to how other people respond and look for opportunities to practice your interpersonal skills by engaging in frequent conversations.
Provide productive solutions. Highlight the benefits, value or solutions you can provide when negotiating with other people. This can help you keep the conversation positive, show that you care and improve the likelihood that the other individual may agree with you.
Combine facts with feelings. Pairing well-researched facts with the appropriate feeling can help you connect to other people on an intellectual and emotional level. Allow your passion to build throughout the conversation to keep other participants engaged while using your critical thinking skills to provide reasonable counterpoints.
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