3 Tips For Mastering Persuasion

A few tweaks to your approach can make or break a negotiation

As a meeting planner, you negotiate all the time, with suppliers, venues, employees, bosses, and clients. Not to mention negotiating with members of your family to get them to do what you want.  

Did you know you’re communicating all the time, no matter what words are coming out of your mouth—and even when you’re not speaking? Studies show that 55 percent of your communication is your body language and 38 percent is your pacing and tonality. When you master a few simple tools you can start to use these parts of communication to persuade anyone, at any time.  

To create this magical connection you must become flexible in your communication. Now, you most likely communicate only your way. You’re in your box. You do things how you do them and say things how you say them and hope your message gets across exactly how you want it to. Maybe it works out the way you intended, but maybe it doesn’t. For a higher success rate, learn to communicate the way people need you to in order to hear your message.  

The key to successful negotiations is to create a deep feeling of connection between you and whomever you’re talking to. People say “yes” much more often when they’re comfortable with you. And you can create ease and flow any time you want with anyone when you pay attention to the details. 

Here are three ways to get to “yes” more quickly.

1. Address people at a 45-degree angle or greater
When you face people straight on you create a feeling of deep, unconscious confrontation. This is troublesome if you want an easy negotiation. You want to make yourself seem as non-confrontational as possible. 

One of the easiest things you can do is to change your body angle when addressing them. Using a 45-degree angle will ease the situation. Just open your shoulders up slightly to them. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing or sitting. When in meetings, set up the room so you’re not staring at each other across the table. Instead, stagger the chairs or use your chair’s swivel. Notice how this eases the tension.  

2. Mimic their body movements
A study at Duke University proved that physically doing what other people do helps them feel comfortable so they will say “yes” more easily. But you’ve got to do it right; doing it wrong will create the opposite effect. If the person you’re speaking with leans on his right leg, you lean on your right leg. You’ll look like a non-mirror image. If he scratches his ear with his left hand, scratch your ear with your left hand. It’s easy. When they move, you wait a bit and then make the same move yourself.  

Studies indicate that this mimicking of behavior makes people feel as though you are listening to them. And most people are paying so much attention to themselves that they’re not paying attention to you, so you won’t get caught. But be subtle. 

3. Match their pace of speech
This works great over the phone when you can’t be seen. As a meeting planner, you most likely think really quickly because you have lots of details on your mind and you want to move on to the next item of business. This will lead you to speak quickly, too. Know that all of your clients aren’t as speedy as you. Just listen to the pace of their speech, and match it. You may need to slow down to meet them. If you go into tons of rapid-fire details with someone who processes information more slowly than you, you’ll lose them and everything you say will go in one ear and out the other. Slowing down can be frustrating if you’re not used to it, but it’s well worth the effort. 

These three techniques take practice, but you’ll find that you can get good at them very quickly. And you’ll start to notice how people respond to you differently than they have in the past—hopefully by saying “yes” even more.