Skills

Persuasion is a skill that comes in handy in many scenarios, whether it is to get an extension from a professor, to earn your dream job, or to convince the President of a country to give up nuclear weapons. Having influential prowess is a prerequisite to becoming a good leader; persuasion is a leader’s bait to fetching support. Explained below are a few psychological tactics that you may use to develop your persuasive skills.

Understand Your Audience

Before diving into a conversation with your audience, you must spend some time understanding them. Discern why they need to be convinced and what objections they may have. Understand their strong points; to be persuasive, you need to be like-minded and establish great rapport with them. Try getting the details of the person you’re trying to persuade – you may use these to start your conversation and get them interested.

Timing is Key

This is an aspect that is easily overlooked. You must approach your audience at the best time possible, when they are at ease. Mood plays a pivotal role in persuasion. The happier your listeners are, the easier your job will be in getting them onto your side. That’s why starting your conversation with a light topic (preferably a humorous one) is a great way to go. Research also shows people are most persuasive when they feel indebted. In other words, strike when they owe you one.

The Listening Game

Before you jump into your reasoning, you must take a moment to listen to people’s concerns. They might not match up exactly with your own beliefs, but never say “you are wrong”. Sympathize with them, understand how to agree with them, and make them feel comfortable. Appreciate their opinions and use the element of empathy to your advantage. This lays the foundation for the most important part of persuasion, your reasoning.

Framing Your Reasoning

The reason why I haven’t used the word ‘argument’ here is because it is tagged with negative connotations; you should not be authoritative while reasoning. Always put your listeners in context (people first, your ideas second); use a positive tone to elucidate how they would benefit from your ideas. Use logic, facts and, above all, confidence to support your statements. Make sure their worries and concerns are addressed here. You may even use anecdotes to pull the emotional strings of your audience for more impact. Frame your language accordingly to fit the context of your speech.

Image: Gratisography

CultureHealth

You know that moment during a meal when everyone is pleasantly full after finishing their entree, just before someone reluctantly reminds the table the restaurant is closing soon so it’s time to sign the check? That soul-warming instant when conversation flows effortlessly? This moment has a name. Sobremesa (n.) is a Spanish word meaning, “the time spent around the table after dinner, talking to the people you shared the meal with; time to digest and savor both food and friendship.” This word is the essence of why in an over stimulated, hectic world, it’s so important to make time to gather around a table for meals.

While I admit my love for the sobremesa is partially because I am a certified foodie, it’s even more so because the Sobremesa is a time for true conversation, an art seemingly dwindling in our generation. We are so used to texting and Facebook messaging entire conversations, that it’s easy to forget how beneficial face-to-face conversation is. While you might feel you know someone well, a deeper realm of connection opens upon seeing facial expressions, gestures, and all the multifaceted characteristics of speaking in real life.

There have been numerous studies detailing the benefits of “table time” in families and in any type of relationship. According to Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology and countless other sources, table time strengthens solidarity in relationships (families, friends, sports teams, roommates, and so on), alleviates stress, improves conversation skills, encourages healthier eating, and broadens intellectual horizons by sharing and listening to different perspectives. All this while possibly exploring new cuisines!

At least once a month, my roommates and I plan a “roomie dinner” where we each pitch in to help; someone purchases ingredients, another provides his/her cooking skills, and another roommate sets the table and helps clean. We gather around the table, leaving all school and life-related stresses at our desks for a few hours to simply enjoy each other’s company. Most dinners, we will choose a meal theme – anything from Mexican to Italian cuisine. Here are a couple of our favorite dishes:

In college, it is easy to get used to eating quick meals while watching Hulu between classes or meetings. I challenge you, however, to take a break. Carve out a few hours of your time and experience just how restorative and forever calming a dinner and its Sobremesa are for the soul.

Image: FoodiesFeed

CultureSkills

Most of us haven’t had to make friends since high school, and even then we didn’t have to start from scratch. Going out to a new place on your own – some of us not even in our home state – can be pretty intimidating. Most of us aren’t used to having to make a whole new group of friends. Here are some tips on how to break out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and make the most of your college experience.

Start Early
Making friends takes time and the only way to speed up the process is to start early. If your college or university has a Facebook group, you’re in luck. Social media is the easiest and holy grail of ways to make new friends and meet new people in general. Post on your school’s page and post a brief paragraph about yourself including your name, major, where you’re from, and a few interests and hobbies that you enjoy. Breaking the ice yourself and starting the trend is always an easy way to get the ball rolling!

Have Questions and Ask Them
If you end up talking to any of your future classmates one-on-one through any sort of social media, have a few generic questions to ask. Questions that can allow you to get to know people and see if you have anything in common can include asking what their major is, how far they live from the school, what their hobbies/interests are, if they have any siblings, and what music they like to listen to. These basic questions always lead to more in-depth conversations and allow you to get to know each other.

Keep the Conversation Flowing
Don’t let the conversation die out. By letting the conversation end, you’re losing the opportunity to continue the relationship you’ve already started! There are always more questions you can ask to break the ice. Feel free to start a question game and go back and forth asking questions you’re curious about. Feel free to ask for someone’s phone number if you’ve been talking for a while as well as their other social media accounts to keep the relationship going.

Be Open-minded
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Try to connect with as many people as you can, regardless of if you think you’d have nothing in common with the person based on their 2010 profile picture. Never pass up an opportunity to talk to someone new; you could be missing out on your future best friend!

Have a Positive Attitude
If you have a positive attitude not only about making friends, but towards the people you’re making friendships with, you’ll be a lot more successful. A smile or exclamation mark can really break a shy person out of his or her shell, so don’t forget to spread the happiness!

Overall, be yourself when meeting new people. Never try to be someone you’re not. College provides an opportunity for you to find the people you really click with and make friendships that will last for years to come!

Image: Unsplash

Culture

George Bernard Shaw’s quote is inspiring us this week. It is important to remember that communication is incredibly important, and that in most situations it is beneficial to talk out your feelings and ideas. If you don’t share what you want to say, it is impossible for people to respond and react. Start with a simple conversation, and to be a more effective communicator, check out these tips.