7 Steps to Improve in the Art of Persuasion


Whatever your field of work may be, it is easy to realize that one’s persuasion skills matter greatly. From convincing customers to purchase that item to talking to potential partners to asking your boss for a raise, your persuasion abilities are put into the test. Therefore, on your way to success, it should be part of your goals to hone your persuasion and argumentative skills.


There are some who are naturally talented at it, who can convince pretty much people as easy as batting an eye, but others are not as fortunate. The good news is that there are concrete steps for you to improve in this art, and below are only some of them:


Be ready for making proper arguments and counter-arguments.


Being able to convince someone is basically having the right arguments that the other person finds agreeable. So it is only natural that argumentation and seeking to be better at it are part of the steps to have better persuasion skills. As you try to persuade people, you will encounter a lot of questions and counter-arguments to what you are going to say; sometimes, there are even some people who will make your job exceptionally more difficult for you. In times like these,  you should not give in easily and bow down in defeat. Be prepared to provide a satisfactory rebuttal. If this is not your strength, make it a habit to practice beforehand: start by trying to foresee the possible directions the conversation will take and the possible issues or questions that will be raised. Once you do so, try providing convincing answers for each. You may ask a friend to help you out and assess the logic and agreeability of your responses, and constantly work on improving them.


Work on your critical thinking skills and logic.


Never underestimate the value of critical thinking skill and logic; they are not just for mathematicians, philosophers, and academicians. Don’t believe us? When you are under stress and have to decide on an important matter, it is on your critical thinking skills that you depend, whether you are aware of it or not. If you do not know yet, critical thinking is a higher cognitive process that involves analysis of available information (from credible sources, that is) in order to come up with the most agreeable and logical decision. This means a critical thinker is able to look past mere descriptions and assess matters in the most logical, rational, and juxtapositional manner.


You are probably wondering whether or not one’s logic can actually be improved; the easy answer to this is yes. With the help of knowledge of actual knowledge on the rules of logic, many may find your


Be aware of fallacies.


Now that we are on the subject of logic and critical thinking, let us talk about the elephant inn the room – fallacies. What many do not know is that a lot of people resort to such fallacious reasoning even in everyday conversations, decisions, and situations. If you ever decided to try out this new product because your favorite celebrity is endorsing it in an advertisement, then your reason is, logically speaking, fallacious. Yet, much like in everyday life, persuading in your field of work is not like writing a thesis or a scientific research; there are no “strict rules” that tell you to commit fallacies in your argumentations. In fact, when persuading someone, whether fallacies are noticed or not ultimately depend on the kind of person you would be trying to persuade. However, regardless of this fact, it would not hurt to brush up on your knowledge on the different fallacies there are – ad hominem, strawman, circular argument, irrelevant appeals, etc. You would want to keep your arguments flawless and unbreakable; going for cheap shots that require fallacies would be a big risk, especially if you happen to be trying to persuade someone aware of logical fallacies as well.

7 Steps to Improve in the Art of Persuasion

Never forget to research.


Remember, the art of persuasion is not a one-size-fits-all thing; you need to know what things and aspects would make a specific someone say yes to you. It comes as no surprise that it would be of great help to research on the persons you will encounter early on to know about their backgrounds, likes, dislikes, etc. Thanks to today’s modern technology, especially the Internet, research does not always have to be tedious. Instead of doing it in the library or archives, you can usually find what you are looking for with a few taps here and there on your smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Take advantage of this convenience by making it a habit to always look up necessary details that will help your arguments – information on products/services, clients, companies, competitors, and others, various studies, and many other useful data. A critical  thinker always makes sure that she has the most important, up-to-date information before coming up with an argument and ultimately, picking her choice.


Learn to use the right tone and pick the best choice of words.


When you are trying to persuade someone, its success does not depend on your message alone; in other words, it is not all logic and data. Your delivery of the information and arguments is also a massive factor. Now, your delivery can be improved in three aspects: confidence, tone, and choice of words. First, you have to seem like you yourself believe and agree with what your arguments or whatever it is you are trying to make the other be convinced of – that is confidence. Your body language must indicate so as well; do not be as stiff as a robot, but avoid excessive movements as well. With regards to the tone, you will have to change it according to who you are talking to. It is better to adjust according to how the other speaks; if he/she is very formal, you will have to avoid being too casual and using the right, complete words instead of abbreviated or colloquial ones. Last but not the least, you have to be picky with the words you use. Make sure they will not offend anyone; saying “just kidding” in the end would not always help your situation.


Stop assuming, and start asking.


There is a great tendency for some to make judgments and assumptions about a client or a customer. While this might work out at times, it might not be a risk worth taking. The better thing to do is to provide the different available options and information and let them decide for themselves. On top of that, if you think some information from them will help, do not be afraid to ask questions as well. This is very helpful in the process of persuasion; aside from the fact that you might get useful information that can strengthen your arguments, it will also give out the impression that you are interested in their concerns and are really focused on them. This alone might not lead to the “yes” you are seeking, but it will definitely add some plus points on your part.




It might sound overly simplistic, but this is one thing all of us should never forget to do. If you really want to be better in persuading people, you have to consciously work on improving your skills, and you can do that by practicing regularly. Start with identifying your strengths and weaknesses; this would make the job easier for you since you can put more attention and focus on being better at your weak points. Find it difficult to speak straight and clearly in public or verbalize your ideas? Believe it or not, practicing speaking in front of the mirror can get you far. The kind of tone and language you also use when you are thinking also matters; try thinking in straight, formal, and grammatically-correct sentences instead of broken phrases, words, and lines. This will make the flow of words easier once you are actually speaking.





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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).