There is no such things as a free lunch. Whether you’re aspiring entrepreneur or a fresh-faced junior employee you can’t rely on handouts and convincing people to side with you is a crucial advantage in business. Investors, clients and suppliers need to be enticed, and the success of business deals hinges on effective communication with these parties. Failure to do so can prevent you from realising your goals and seizing opportunities to grow your business. Sadly their is no magic spell to make people do what you want, but there are subtle tools and tactful techniques within your control which can improve your chance of success.
1. Get people to like you first
Before you can convince anyone to work with you, it is important that they actually like you… to some extent. Launching an entrepreneurial business or starting in new company is difficult enough irrespective of your personality, but an open and pleasant attitude will only strengthen your image as a trustful individual.
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
2. Don’t get too friendly
With that in mind, it is important not to overdo it: being too friendly will make you seem inappropriate and non-genuine. After all, you are trying to make money, not friends. Cultural contexts can also play a part. In Germany for example, wasting time on pleasantries will only frustrate your prospective partners, who value a more direct approach when it comes to business communication. Whereas a more polite and modest behaviour is likelier to gain people’s trust in Britain.
3. Get your arguments in line
Try to support your main point by surrounding reasons and giving evidence to your argument. Practice with a colleague or friend, if it is an important discussion.
Claim – Statement you want to convince someone of
“Mum I need a car”
Reason – Statement that tells why
“Because I have to go places you can’t take me”
Evidence – Proof from a credible source or facts
“French tutoring is at 3, when you are at work”
Explanation of Evidence – What does the evidence proof?
“Since you can’t take me, I need a car to go myself.”
So what? – Why should they care (very important)
“You want me to pass french class, so I should go to the tutoring.”
Conclusion – Summarize argument
“I need a car so that I can take french classes so I pass like you want me to.”
4. Be on their side
Demonstrate to the person you want to convince that you’re looking out for their best interests. This is done by emphasising with their point of view, while still focussing on your end goal of convincing them.
“Don’t think what they can do for you, think what you do for them.”
Forget the profit you could get by can have by realising your idea, or by selling your certain product. Only mention the benefits the person will enjoy by them doing what you want.
5. Less is more:
Don’t explain your position again and again. By repeating yourself you will only give more information that is not necessarily needed, and will dilute the main aspects of your argument. Take a moment before you start arguing to think about the essential message and deliver this in as few sentences as possible.
6. Think about the location:
This is one trick that rarely occurs to most people. When you encounter someone in their normal work place, they are comfortable and confident in familiar surroundings therefore it can be difficult to convince them of new ideas. So endeavor to get the person out of their comfort zone. Of course not so much that they will be intimidated, but enough to stimulate a different outlook perhaps difficult to achieve in the same old setting.
An attractive location will also improve the person’s mood in a positive way, so they will be much more likely accept what you are offering them. For example with one-to-one appointments, it might help to go out for coffee. Similarly on our last strategy meeting, I had to convince the Spacebase team of our new strategy for the coming months. I rented the venue Betahaus Arena in Berlin and held the meeting there. The excitement of a new and unusual setting meant they were open to hear new ideas and suggestions.
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