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5 helpful ways to persuade people as an HR professional

— General HR

5 helpful ways to persuade people as an HR professional

Whether you’re negotiating with a trade union or pitching an idea to the executive committee: every idea you defend as an HR professional depends on your ability to persuade. Your ability to persuade will make the people around you accept your idea and ultimately turn a "no" into a "yes".

But how can you, as an HR professional, persuade those around you? Can you influence others without them noticing? Is it possible to influence others without using any authority? During our webinar session, Diana De Wit shared some helpful tips from her experience as an HR director and business & leadership coach. Interested in learning more? Inspire yourself with Diana's most persuasive (pun intended!) tips. 

1 Build a good relationship

A lot has already been written about the power of persuasion, but not in the field of human resources. Diana: "Influencing is a concept that comes from consumer marketing, rather than human resources." Robert Cialdini, an authority in his field, has conducted years of research on influencing and described six principles of persuasion: authority, sympathy, consensus, consistency, reciprocity and scarcity. Some examples: 

  • Reciprocity: if you, as an HR professional, help or support someone during his career, this person will likely return the favour later. 
  • Authority: the more experience you have as an HR professional, the more employers will be interested in working with you. 
  • Consensus: if you defend a certain HR approach and argue that other companies have successfully used the same approach, people are more likely to accept your proposal. 

Of course, HR professionals can use these techniques to influence other people, but the influencing process actually starts much earlier. Even before you as an HR professional want to convince someone of your idea, you can do some preparatory work by creating a good relationship. In other words, before you persuade, you need to “pre-suade”. Diana: "If you make time to build a good relationship with people, they are more likely to accept your proposal later. If people like working with you, you get more done."

2 Adapt your conversation style 

Your conversation technique also contributes to your ability to persuade others. People have a tendency to "push" rather than "pull" a conversation, while it can and actually should be different. "Many people start by speaking instead of listening and focus mainly on what they need." They push the conversation in the direction they want, but pushing in this context means ... pushing away. Diana prefers to see it the other way around: "Try to listen before you start talking. Focus on what the person in front of you needs and you will get things done faster. Involve them in the conversation or project."

3 Go for a win-win 

Another successful way to influence someone is by creating a win-win situation. Diana: "It's easier to influence someone if both you and the other person have something to gain from your proposal. Because if you have something to gain and the other person has something to lose, he or she might feel manipulated and you will not achieve your intended long-term goal." In short: you win if the other person also wins.

4 See the person in front of you as an ally 

Even when you have no authority over another person, you can succeed in influencing and convincing people. The key to getting what you want is to see the person in front of you as a possible ally. You can convince him/her by asking yourself the following questions: What are your shared interests? What common goals do you want to achieve?  What does the person in front of you care about and how can you help him to achieve this? 

5 Choose the right words 

A final tip from Diana? Words also have a big impact, as Phil M. Jones wrote in Exactly What to Say. You can make people feel like you're on the same page by starting the conversation with: "If I were in your position..." You can even make someone picture a situation by starting your sentence with "Imagine you’re ...". 

Or you can go a step further by having people mentally imagine themselves as if they have already approved your proposal: "Suppose you agree with my proposal, how do you know you made the right choice?" For example: if you want to apply for a project as an HR interim manager, you can ask the following question: "When you see me at work as an interim HR manager after 2 months, how will you know that you made the right choice?"

Curious to know more about influencing? Given the convincing success of our webinar, we will soon organise a second session with Diana De Wit. So be sure to keep an eye on our event page. 


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