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Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could convince people to do what you want? Or do you wish you had a more potent power of persuasion?
Surprisingly enough, you likely have more power than you realize. The secret to wielding the power of persuasion is to focus your intention and tap into your influence. Whether you work in sales and marketing, hope to get ahead in your career, or want to have more influence in your relationship, the power of persuasion can help you move toward getting what you want. All you need to do is convince others.
Easier said than done, right? Once you know how to focus your intent, it DOES become easier than you may think. Here’s how to get what you want from life, from yourself, and those around you.
We work on the power of persuasion during our Year of Transformation courses. Many of our students wish they knew how to get what they want out of life (from others, themselves, or the universe in general). They know they want things from others, but they might not feel sure what that really means.
They also wonder, is persuading others manipulative? Is it wrong? How do we get people to do what we want? Moreover, how do we determine what we really want in the first place?
At the end of the day, it’s not so much what we DO to get what we want; it’s all about our intent. The power of persuasion isn’t in coercion or convincing. Often, it’s a suggestion toward something that will have a positive outcome for all parties. It’s about setting an intention and believing that others WANT to help us. Do we intend to make a difference? Do we want to use our influence for good? Do we want to be heard and have someone else really understand us?
Now, this doesn’t mean screaming and yelling to get the point across. Persuasion isn’t manipulative or threatening. In fact, demanding, screaming, and yelling often doesn’t work at all; it can actually work against us. It’s the positive intent that matters.
If I’m in a conversation with Bob, for example, I may want him to do something for me. Maybe I need his help with a task around the house; perhaps I would like his input or feedback on an idea I’ve been mulling over for work. Maybe I want his support, attention, or affection. So, what do I do to persuade him to give me what I want?
Persuasion isn’t about “talking him into something,” like some kind of used-car salesman. I’m not wheeling and dealing to get what I want. I’m not tricking Bob into giving it to me. When we act with intent, it means expressing ourselves as fully as we can. So, when talking to Bob, I will tell him WHY something really matters to me. I may express the outcome I’m hoping for. I’ll put myself fully into the idea of what I want, why it matters, and my ideal result.
Because Bob listens to me and values me, he can often meet my request with ease. He gives me what I want, need, and ask for in our relationship because I’ve expressed to him how much it matters to my heart.
When we intend to change something, we have a lot more power than we may think. If we go about asking for something with the intention of getting it, it’s much more potent than merely wishing, hinting, or hoping it will come about. We believe that it will happen and that the universe WANTS it to happen—we simply need to find a path to bring it to fruition.
If we approach a request like, “Well, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I was kind of hoping you wouldn’t really mind doing this favor for me,” it isn’t very persuasive.
On the other hand, when we say to someone, “This is very important to me. I would really appreciate it if you would do this for me. It would mean a lot,” the intent is still the same—to get what we want. In this case, though, it’s much more likely that someone will respond positively to our request because we’re direct. People want to make us happy when they can. Most people want to help us fulfill our needs, even if they barely know us.
When we ask for what we want, it’s not about being tricky or conniving. We’re not trying to dupe someone into doing what we want (most of us have good intentions). We’re trying to get someone to see our side and come to the situation authentically. We’re making an appeal. We’re highlighting that there’s a benefit to them, in that we’ll feel more favorably and warmly towards them. We’re giving them away to make us happy.
It’s not, “How can I make someone do what I want?” It’s about being true to what we want—THIS is what I want, THIS is how I feel.
When we approach a situation with positive intent, sometimes we’ll get an even better solution than the one we were initially going for. If we’re genuinely involved in the conversation and open to the direction, we might be pleasantly surprised at the positive outcomes. If we approach it rigidly, getting stuck on only one acceptable answer, it doesn’t always work. Come to the table, ready to be open to whatever direction it takes. Sometimes the best outcome isn’t even something we’ve thought of yet.
Realness, genuineness, and emotions work when it comes to the power of persuasion. We may even want to think of authenticity as the real power of persuasion. Our intention and true feelings are always very persuasive.
So, what’s the difference between persuading someone to do what we want and manipulating someone? Again, it’s all about the intention.
The reality is, we’re all “manipulating” others all the time. It’s impossible to interact with others without exerting some level of influence. We go into each interaction and decision with the desired outcome. If we’re deciding on lunch with a friend, we’re going to have feelings about the restaurant, what we want to eat, and when we hope to go. When we express those feelings to our friend, we intend to convince them to choose the little bistro down the street rather than the deli around the corner. Is this manipulation? In a sense, yes, but we don’t have nefarious intentions. Our real purpose is to enjoy our time with our friend (and if we focus on the true intent and remain open to different answers, the place we eat isn’t as important as our connection). Maybe we get to go to our favorite restaurant, and perhaps we try something new, but the positive outcome of engagement with our pal is still the same.
The more honest we are about the situation and our desires, the better. Dishonesty in persuasion is what makes it harmful. We may think of manipulation as a type of dishonest persuasion—we’re not forthcoming, being tricky, or trying to get someone to do something without telling them what we really want. But using our influence and changing or “manipulating” a situation can actually be lovely and positive. It helps us look at a situation in different ways.
For example, I may say something to Bob, such as, “I want you to know that I’m doing this so that you will do this for me later.” He, in turn, always has the ability to say no, but he realizes that we’re making a trade-off, and I have the power to persuade him. It’s a bargain of sorts or a pact. Usually, if I’m doing something that he wants, he’s more than happy to do something for me in return. When we’re honest with each other, it removes the ambiguity and negative feelings of coercion.
We must be honest about what we want. Many of us hold back on what we want because of fear. We may feel we don’t deserve to have our needs met or worry that someone will tell us no. So we dwell in a place of uncertainty and apprehension.
The way to work through our fear is by understanding what we want and being direct. What is our intent? Why is this important to us? Once we’re clear on that point, the path is often much easier to navigate.
It can also help to admit that we’re scared to ask. If we approach a conversation with, “I want to ask for something, but I’m afraid.” It will often temper the discussion and make the other person more receptive to what we will say. Remember to assume good intent on the other person’s part—they likely want us to feel good. They want to help us.
If we tell someone, “I’m scared because this matters to me,” they will often be even more willing to help us work through a mutually beneficial solution. They can understand what it means to us, and they see that we’re hoping for a positive outcome.
So, if you’re hoping to wield the power of persuasion, it’s as simple as going in with honesty and authenticity. Clarify your intent and go for what you want. It all starts by working up the courage to begin the conversation. Once you start, you’re well on the way to getting what your heart desires.
For more ways to discover your personal power and influence, don’t miss our courses available on Wright Now. We have classes to help you get ahead in your career, strengthen your relationships, and grow towards your next most radiant self. Explore today and begin to live a life of MORE.
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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.