Saturday, March 23, 2013

How to Persuade Using Body Language

Being persuasive means choosing your words carefully. I’ve covered how to create powerful messages in previous episodes; however, effective persuasion requires the right delivery too. Your body language can either help you get your message across, hinder your influence, or worse, send the wrong message entirely. Today I’ll talk about how to successfully persuade and influence through body language.

Ask in Person
If you have an important request, don’t send email. It’s best to ask face-to-face. Your request will be more persuasive if it’s made in person. Coincidentally, it’s much easier to say “no” to an email request than to someone’s face. But perhaps more importantly, by watching the body language of your conversation partner you can tailor your message as you speak. For example, let’s say when describing a benefit of your proposal, you notice a slight “no” nod. This is a small clue that your partner may not agree with you, and you can then use that information to change the course of your conversation.

In addition, your passion and emotions are more contagious in person. Don’t believe that? Ever have a laughing fit just because someone else was laughing? The point is that no matter how many exclamation points, smiley faces, or hearts you put in writing, they’re no substitute for real emotions experienced in person through facial expressions, voice, and gestures. Think about how different it is to listen to this podcast versus reading it. It’s a completely different experience. Persuading over the phone presents similar hurdles; you may not have their full attention and you won’t have the opportunity to see facial expressions or gestures of the person on the other line.

So if you’re asking something of someone, ask to meet in-person. Go to them. Perhaps invite them to a meal or for coffee. If you’re trying to persuade a group, call a meeting. Finally, if meeting in person is not possible, try the best next thing: video conferencing.

Check Your Body Language