How to Persuade Someone

Three Parts:Persuading with Your ActionsPersuading with Your WordsPersuading with Your Attitude

Ah, the art of persuasion. So simple, yet so hard. The human mind is surprisingly malleable and easy to manipulate, if you know what it is you want and what you're doing. Make your argument as persuasive as possible by following the steps below.

Part 1
Persuading with Your Actions

  1. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 1
    Get the right timing. People are most persuadable immediately after thanking you. You are at your most persuasive after being thanked, so the perfect time to ask for a favor? Just after someone's thanked you for something.[1]
    • To increase your chances of getting what you want, try starting the task off for them.[1] People are more likely to be compliant if they've seen you've already put in a little bit of work. Let's say your partner says, "Thanks for making dinner, honey. It was great." You reply with, "You're welcome. I've just started the dishes – can you finish?"
  2. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 2
    Give them incentive. There are three basic types of incentive you should have in your arsenal. If you know your audience, you'll know which will be the most effective:[2]
    • Economic. Let the person know that they may lose out on a great money-making opportunity, or that they could gain money by complying with your wishes.
    • Moral. Let the person know that by helping you out, they'll somehow be bettering the world around them. If they think they're a good person, how could they not?
    • Social. Let them know that "everyone else is doing it, too." It's doubly effective if you can name off a few of their friends.
  3. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 3
    Give them something first. You know all those people in the mall who try to hand you samples of lotion whether you're avoiding them like the plague or not? That's not just to get you to try their product and fall in love with it – that's to make you feel a little guilty so you end up buying something.[3] You can do this, too, just be a bit more sly about it than they are!
    • Say your son or daughter is raising money for some school function. You've promised you would get some funds from your colleagues. A few hours before you approach Marie with your proposal, you drop off some of your daughter's homemade cookies at her desk. After that, you're a shoo-in.
  4. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 4
    Let them think ‘’they’’ came up with the idea. Implanting an idea in someone's head is one of the hardest things to do when it comes to persuasion, but it is also one of the most effective. Instead of outright saying what you want, you just dance around it for a while. In time, with the right dance, they'll come up with the idea themselves.
    • Let's use the same example: you want to get some money from your coworkers for your daughter's fundraiser, but you don't want to outright ask. Instead, you start a conversation about charity and how great it is to help people. You mention that you gave part of your tax return to your favorite one last year. Then, you slip in how your daughter is working a fundraiser right now. If done right, your colleagues may even offer.
  5. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 5
    Pay attention to what they want. The fact of the matter is that everyone is different. Some people are going to respond to economic incentives, some people are going to respond to moral incentives, and some people may not respond to anything. To persuade them to get onto your side, listen to them. Pay attention to what they want. If you can offer them something they actually want, you're in.[3]
    • Let's say you're having trouble getting time off approved from your boss. Work has just been swamped lately. You hear him mention how he wishes the company could be represented at a series of conventions over the course of the summer. You chime in with the fact that you'd love to make the trip and would take on a few of the expenses yourself. This way, he's getting something, and so are you.

Part 2
Persuading with Your Words

  1. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 6
    Talk about what they’ll lose. People are more persuadable when they're confronted with loss, rather than gain. Think about it: say someone comes up to you and says you're going to lose your favorite shirt. You'd be a little taken aback. On the other hand, they could say you're going to get your new favorite shirt. Not as convincing, huh? We become attached to what we already have, even if the gain is the same.
    • This idea has been well-researched. In fact, there was a recent study in which a group of businessmen were presented with a proposal for an IT project. Twice as many of the men approved the proposal if the company was predicted to lose $500,000 if the proposal wasn't accepted, compared with a scenario that predicted the project would lead to a profit of $500,000.” [4]
  2. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 7
    Draw on their past actions. People feel the need to remain consistent with their past actions. If they believe they're a good person and have examples in their memory of that, they will continue to strive to be a good person. Therefore, people are easier to persuade to behave in certain ways if they have acted that way before. Know your audience – who has done what you're looking for someone to do?
    • The more you know your audience, the better off you'll be. Let's say you're back to helping out your daughter with her fundraiser. You know that your friend Nguyen donated to Henry's son's fundraiser in the spring. Won't he donate to your daughter's, too, perhaps?
  3. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 8
    Let them know everyone else is doing it. Have you heard of the Asch conformity study? A group of people were in a room, where only one didn't know what was going on. They were shown a series of lines, some super short, some quite long. The group in on the study all agreed that the short lines were the longest – and the dumbfounded one nearly always agreed.[5] In short, humans conform under pressure. If everyone else is doing it, they'll want to do it, too.
    • Tell whomever you're talking to you that a ton of people are already doing it – including people they know, like, and respect. That's the kicker – if they respect the people doing it, they'll be less likely to question their judgment.
  4. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 9
    Use “we”. The use of "we" immediately conveys a sense of commonality and support. If someone said to you, "You need this product to be better looking. You need this product to succeed in life and to get people to like you," you'd be a little skeptical and maybe even a little offended. Using "you" makes a person feel singled out, which is the last thing you want to do.
    • Instead, imagine someone trying to persuade you to do something saying, "We all need this product to be better looking. If everyone used this product, we would all be succeeding in life and everyone would love us." It sounds less personal and a little magical, doesn't it?
  5. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 10
    Ask for a mile when you really want just an inch. Try to think back to the days when you would pester your mom or dad for the biggest, grandest Christmas present you could get your hands on. You didn't get it, but maybe you got the next best thing. Your parents feel they compromised with you – neither party got 100% what they wanted. Now imagine if that was the gift you actually wanted! They had no idea it wasn't a compromise.
    • Say you just really want to go out to dinner and movie with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but they're always busy. You start out by asking and asking about taking a vacation, a whole weekend off. After a series of no's, you say, "...then how about just a dinner and a movie?" They'll see you "backed down" (or so they think!) and be more likely to cave.
  6. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 11
    Talk about the counterargument. Though it may seem counterintuitive, your argument will be more persuasive if you talk about the opposing side, too. It shows you know what you're talking about, have weighed the pros and cons, and still believe what you're saying. [6]
    • Say you're trying to convince someone that Pepsi is better than Coke. Saying, "It tastes so good and the can is beautiful!" is all well and good, but imagine if you said, "Sure, Coke has more drinkers, but it's in more countries – that doesn't make it better, that makes it more widespread." Which is more logical and convincing?
  7. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 12
    Lean on ethos, pathos, and logos. Aristotle said there were three ways to persuade your audience: through ethos, pathos and logos. Let's explore them:[7]
    • Ethos. This is credibility. For example, Hanes uses Michael Jordan. If Hanes are good enough for MJ, they're good enough for you.
    • Pathos. Pathos is all about emotions. You know those commercials full of images of sad puppies and kittens? That's to pull at your heartstrings so you wind up adopting one.
    • Logos. This is about logic and reason. If you invest $500 now, you'll have $1000 later, for example.

Part 3
Persuading with Your Attitude

  1. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 13
    Get them laughing. This is social skills 101: get people laughing and they'll like you better. They'll be happy, they'll associate you with happiness, and they'll be that much more easily persuaded. Humans love being happy – if you can give them that, they may give you what you want, too.
    • Get them talking about something they really enjoy, too. On top of this topic making them happy, if you seem interested in the same topic, you'll be that much more relate-able as well.
  2. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 14
    Get them agreeing with you. Recent research has shown that "yeah" is a very powerful, persuasive word.[8] It turns out people like to remain consistent. Get them saying "yeah," and they'll want to continue saying "yeah." They'll be in a positive, accepting mood if you get them agreeing early on.
    • Keep talking in the affirmative. Talk about things they love, topics you agree on, and everything that has them saying "yes" and never saying "no." Then, when you bust out the golden question, they won't want to break the pattern they've established.
  3. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 15
    Be persistent. Have you ever had a guy or girl pester you for your number? You said no, you said no, you said no, then finally you caved and just said yes. While it may not be the most refined tactic, it definitely works! if you got a "no" initially, don't slow down. Persistence can totally pay off.
    • Just be sure not to be too annoying. Asking and asking and asking can make some people rather infuriated. Space out how often you ask to not seem obnoxious or relentless.
  4. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 16
    Have positive expectations of them. Most people tend to rise to the occasion, or what people expect of them. If your parents didn't care about your grades and thought you'd fail, odds are you weren't a stellar student. If your parents just expected great grades and bad ones weren't even a possibility, you were probably great. The same goes for everyone else in your life!
    • This is true for whether it's your children, your employees, or your friends. You put out into the environment what you'll get back. To get people to behave how you want, expect it. In most cases, they'll want to make you happy and avoid conflict.
  5. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 17
    Make it seem urgent. Emphasizing to someone that they don't have long to act can push them to action. You can either emphasize that the product is scarce or just that you'll find someone else. This generates a need that says they have to act now.[9] Whether it's true or not!
    • Say you're managing a team and you give them a 3 week deadline, when really the project has to be due in 3 months. In 3 weeks, you give them 2 week extension for their “great work." They thank you and feel super relieved – and they might even meet your 5 week goal!
  6. Image titled Persuade Someone Step 18
    Be confident. Even if you have to fake it. Turns out humans prefer cockiness over expertise – it's how all those hooligans on TV who make false predictions still have jobs.[10] The more you act like you know what you're talking about, the more credible you seem. The more credible you seem, the more trustworthy you are.
    • If your listeners don't agree, speak quickly. Speak slowly if they do.[11] Research shows that if they don't agree, speaking quickly doesn't give them time to formulate counterarguments. If they do agree, speak slowly, so they can take in every word, becoming more persuaded.
    • Make sure your body language and eye contact is consistent with your words. If your voice sounds enthusiast and full of life but your body is hanging there like a limp noodle, your audience will not be convinced. Confidence is verbal, yes, but it's incredibly physical, too.


  • Be mature about it all – if after trying everything possible, they still say a firm "No," never mind – find something else you want.
  • Say, "Okay - I understand and agree," or something along those lines, if you're told you certainly can't have what you wanted. Your maturity will shock the other person – maybe so much, that they'll do it for you!


  • Never, EVER steal money to buy something you've been told you can't have.
  • Don't go on and on about it – you'll just drive everyone mad and convince them that you didn't deserve whatever you wanted anyway.

Article Info

Categories: Conversation Skills