Three surprisingly simple ways to win hearts and minds (backed by science)

By Lori

Children's secretsGot any of these on your Life To Do List?

A message to share

A movement to ignite

A mission to fulfill

An empire to build

All of these require the same thing: an audience.

Call it what you want:

A tribe.






The bottom line is, you need true believers to win the day.

Why you should be persuasive

Being persuasive sometimes gets a bad rap (think “selling ice to an Eskimo”.) But we’re not talking about bilking Granny out of her life savings.

Instead, being persuasive means getting others to adopt a particular belief or pursue a particular action.

It’s not manipulation, which is getting people to do something against their own interests. Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you.

Doctors persuade patients to practice healthier lifestyles.

Parents persuade their children to make good choices that lead to happiness and fulfillment.

Political, social, business and religious leaders all use persuasion to gain support for their message.

You should, too.

Here are three tips to be more persuasive, backed up by scientific research:

1. Be bold.

No one is inspired by weak, wishy-washy positions.

“Maybe you should do this. It might work. But something else might work better for you. I don’t know.”

“I kinda think my idea could be right.” “What? You suggest something different? Oh, okay.”


I know that taking a stand feels risky. What if you’re wrong and someone calls you out?

What if people don’t agree with you and therefore don’t support you or your work?

A-Listers, I’ve got some news that may delight or dismay you:

How the message is delivered trumps its credibility or reasoning.

Here’s what I mean: we humans are wired to equate confidence with skill. We automatically view people who are confident as being skilled. And we prize confidence over data, when it comes to delivering ideas and information.

The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record. Moore argues that in competitive situations, this can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are. And it spells bad news for scientists who try to be honest about gaps in their knowledge. []

So be bold. Stop saying, “I think” or “I believe.” Stop adding qualifiers to your speech.

It doesn’t mean that you should start baldly proclaiming every thought that floats through your brain as the gospel.

However, if you think something will work, say it will work. If you believe your idea is the right one, sing it loud and proud!

2. Be positive

Sometimes, when we want to persuade others, we use fear-based arguments.

“If you don’t do this, you’ll be losing out…”

“Because I said so!”

Fear and intimidation work, but only for a short time. The long-term play to win over others is to be positive.

Try this natural upper:


Can such a simple act really increase the amount of influence you have? Yes. Yes. And, yes.

In a research study, college students were shown a fleeting glimpse of a smiling face, too quickly to consciously recognize it. Others were shown angry and neutral faces. Before being shown the faces, all were asked – by another student, as what they believed to be an unrelated request – to participate in an unpaid beverage study.

Among those subliminally primed with angry faces, 24 percent decided to take part in the beverage study; 41 percent of those subliminally primed with neutral faces decided to participate; and 62 percent of those subliminally primed with happy faces decided to participate. [Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan By Francesca Gino]

Wait, it gets better. Smiling (like all our facial expressions) triggers mirror neurons in others.

Haven’t you noticed that when you smile at a group of people, say, while speaking, most will smile back at you? It’s one of our unconscious behaviors.

There’s major power in your pearly whites!

Use positive words

When you want to influence and persuade, don’t stop at a sunny expression. Use speech that’s positive, too. People respond to positive outcome statements.

Let’s look at the research, this time on presidential elections, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center. The study concluded that people tend to vote for the more hopeful and optimistic candidate in presidential elections.

In fact, from 1900 through the 1980s, the Center reports, the optimistic presidential candidate has won 80 percent of the time. The only exceptions have been Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his three reelection bids, and Richard Nixon. [University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center]

3. Use your energy

I’m gonna quote myself here, “A truly ridiculous amount of your success in life is determined by your energy. Fact.” [Famous in Your Field]

The same is true for persuasiveness. When you exude energy and transfer it to your audience, they’re more likely to be convinced.

If you are interested in and enthusiastic about your subject, you increase the level of interest and enthusiasm in your audience. Your voice and your physiology should indicate your level of enthusiasm. If you say, for example, that you are “glad to be here,” your voice and your body should show that you truly are glad. If you look depressed and speak in a small, shaky voice, your audience will believe your appearance rather than your words. [Bowman, Western Michigan University]

The most persuasive people know how to transfer their energy to others, to motivate and engage them.

Here are three ways to wield your energy super powers:

  • Eye contact
  • Warmth in your voice
  • Physical contact

Your fame boosting assignment:

This week, pick two conversations or events where you want to persuasive. Plan how you’ll use these data-backed persuasion tools to win those hearts and minds.

It’s a special kind of magic, my friends.

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