by Sheryl Kraft

How to Win People Over

Mastering the art of persuasion can drastically improve all corners of your life. Here's how

We've all been there: frustrated when we don't get what we want. At times we talk until we're blue in the face and still fail at convincing the other person to see things our way.

You don't have to cajole, whine, beg or intimidate to get your way. There are better ways. "In life, there are times we literally have to ask for what we want," says Lizzie Post, co-author of Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th Edition.

The trick: To do it in a way that doesn't come across as demanding, pushy or entitled, says Post. The result: Less stress for you, and a win-win situation for all.

How to Win People Over Scenario #1

Your spouse insists on reading the newspaper during breakfast, but you're hungry for conversation. How do you convince him to put down the paper and talk?

Master It:

Often people try to win their spouses over with noise and negativity, but this usually results in the opposite, says Alisa Bowman, author of the book and blog, Project: Happily Ever After. Just ask for what you want, she says. "Get rid of all the language about your emotions and justifications, using as few sentences as possible," she suggests. Saying something like, "I'd really love it if we could talk over breakfast," is succinct and to the point, without unnecessary blaming or nagging.

On the other hand, says Post, you have to recognize that not everyone is a morning person. So don't be offended if you can't get your hubby to chat. In this case, persuasion might not be the best route to take. Instead, try working toward a compromise; have a short conversation when you're waking up in bed, or read the paper together over a cup of coffee, she suggests.

How to Win People Over Scenario #2

You live in a quiet, residential neighborhood. Your neighbor's dog stays outside much of the day and barks non-stop.

Master It:

You need to have a face-to-face conversation about the disruption the dog is causing, says Post. You might even want to bring along a peace offering, like brownies, cookies or a bottle of wine, suggests Bowman. "Be positive. Don't show any dislike for the animal himself, but do show concern for the behavior that's going on," Post says. She suggests trying something like, "I want your dog to be able to enjoy the outside, but I'd also like to enjoy quiet as well." The goal here is to get the other person to be sympathetic to your need -- and not to be defensive about their dog. And remember: it's the owner's responsibility to address the problem, not yours.

How to Win People Over Scenario #3

You work with a team, but a few people are not pulling their weight; they're lazy or just not as committed as you, bringing down the performance of the entire group. You don't want to rat on your co-workers, yet you also don't want to appear like a slacker to your boss.

Master It:

To ensure the project will get done, you need to step up and organize the group as a whole, says Post. Write out who is responsible for what, including the deadlines. Then e-mail the schedule to the group and schedule regular follow-up meetings so you can check in with one another. "This way you have something actionable to turn to, and everyone will be accountable," Post says. If and when the boss asks what happened, you have the written proof of exactly what is going on.


"How to Win People Over"