6 Persuasion Tips From FBI Charm School

June 1st, 2014 by LaRae Quy
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FBI counterintelligence agents, such as myself, recruit foreign spies to work for the U.S. government. It’s not that we are selling anything; instead, we are using persuasion to make our point. Very often, we are successful.

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You may never find yourself in a situation where you’ll be confronted with a Russian spy trying to steal classified information, and chances are even slimmer that you’ll be asked to recruit him to work for our side, but there will be times that you will absolutely need to make your point.  

Persuasion is not just for spies, salespeople, and teenagers.

You may need to persuade your boss to take a closer look at your proposal or persuade employees to perform better.

Here are 6 tips from FBI charm school on how to persuade people effectively with grace—and even a little dignity:

 

1. LISTEN TO SOMEONE BESIDES YOURSELF

This is difficult because it means you need to take the focus away from yourself and concentrate on the person in front of you—and this is true whether you’re knee-to-knee with a person or in front of a computer screen answering emails. 

It means being present with both sides of the conversation—not just your side. Do not lapse into planning tomorrow or checking items off your to-do list.

 

2. ADAPT TO THE PERSONALITY OF THE OTHER PERSON

An essential element of mental toughness is the ability to accurately read the emotions of others and then adapt your behavior accordingly.

Match your personality to your boss, employee, or client. Assess whether they are introverts or extraverts, analytical or a visionary, purpose-driven or security-driven, goal-oriented or people-oriented. 

If you’ve been a good listener, you will be able to make these distinctions.

 

3. SINCERITY IS THE KEY TO BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

Only by taking the time to develop relationships, can you fully understand people’s needs, desires, and fears. Until this happens, it’s very difficult to engage them in any meaningful way. 

 

4. SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT

In a culture that at times seems to be losing its ability to have respect for the opposing point of view, it’s important to give others the respect that is due to them without trying to belittle them in the process.

When making our point with others, we have two options: we can either manipulate people into adopting our view, or we can use different measures of persuasion. 

Manipulation is a favorite of bullies like Adolph Hitler—and the tactics used by slick advertising.

Persuasion, on the other hand, is the ability to charm and influence others using subtle methods without denigrating the other person.

 

5. TACT REQUIRES THAT YOU THINK BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH

A person with tact knows what to say or do to avoid giving offense. Tact is essential when dealing with difficult or delicate situations. Do not ask embarrassing questions that put people on the defensive.

Perhaps the biggest tip for developing tact is this: think before you say something.

Try role-playing with a friend and ask for their input. Are you coming across the way you want?

 

6. BE POISED TO ADD VALUE TO THE CONVERSATION

My years in the FBI were a grueling course in learning good manners because people were not going to talk to me, let alone follow me, unless I could engage them in a way that was meaningful and productive.

Demonstrate warmth first when connecting with others, develop a bond and then be competent in the work you do together.

It’s impossible to change people’s minds unless you take the time to develop more than shallow, fleeting relationships with them. It comes down to this: in a world of mass media you must learn how to charm people if you want to persuade them to take your point of view seriously.

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

 

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6 Responses to “6 Persuasion Tips From FBI Charm School”

  1. Alli Polin says:

    Fantastic, LaRae! I know too many people that they think the art of persuasion is to bang me over the head with their point until I cave. In that case, I haven’t been persuaded, I’ve just moved on.

    I work with a lot of people to help them to understand that not everyone wants to be sold a car (or anything for that matter!) just like they do. One of the keys to persuasion is to identify someone else’s style and flex your own to meet them where they are.

    The key to all of it is awareness and intention. Without those too, persuasion and connection is impossible.

  2. Great lessons LaRae! In today’s world, I think #4 is paramount. But along with showing respect we’ve also got to remember showing respect differs from agreeing with someone.

  3. Terri Klass says:

    Love your FBI stories and lessons, LaRae! You never disappoint us with your adventures!

    All six of your points in persuasion are so critical. I especially loved number 2-Adapt to the personality of the other person. If we attempt to persuade others with our style and it is very different from the other individual’s, we will not be as successful. It is only when we “flex” to the way they take in information and make decisions that we will be able to send our message most effectively.

    Another insightful post, LaRae!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Thank you, Terri!

      Yes, I find that adapting my own style to the personality of the other person usually puts them at ease. If they are emotionally intelligent, they will also attempt to adapt but I find it’s best to take the initiative and be the first to make it happen!

  4. Karin Hurt says:

    This is such a terrific list. It’s so important to remember that we have to be very deliberate in every interaction. Even when we’re tired or stressed. Communication is hard work and must be handled with care, every time.

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