Convince With Style

How personal style helps persuade opponents

5 min read
Convince With Style

You know the problem. You had an idea that you would like to implement and now "only" have to convince your colleagues of it. Unfortunately, you are aware that among them there is a passionate critic and another who will reject your proposal simply because it comes from you. Although the facts speak for you, it is likely that these two will badmouth your project and reduce the acceptance of your idea among the other colleagues towards zero.

But how can you win these two over to your idea? A little tip in advance: It's not because of the facts or your arguments.

Be Sympathetic

More important than the thoughtful presentation or coherent argumentation of your idea is your attitude towards those you are trying to convince.

Become aware of your charisma. You know you're going to face headwinds, and you shouldn't let that show on your face. If you enter into a conversation with doubts, this emotion is reflected in your posture. You seem nervous or even tense.

Stand up straight, straighten your back and pull your shoulders back slightly. Show that you are passionate about your idea in order to infect others with your enthusiasm.

You can't appear candid if you stand stock still in front of your co-workers with your hands in your pockets or if you cross your arms. In order to achieve the maximum degree of authenticity, gestures and facial expressions must match your words.

Stand relaxed, smile, and support your words visually with your hands without waving wildly.

As an additional note, people tend to trust someone they show deference or even respect. So you can achieve a lot with your personal style alone.

Stay Factual

You have now presented your idea and supported it with a maximum of three arguments. Providing more than three arguments raises skepticism in your audience, as Suzanne Shu of the Anderson School of Business and Kurt Carlson of Georgetown University found in their study "When Three Charms But Four Alarms." During your explanations you have already seen from the facial expressions how possible points of criticism are put together in the heads of the two complainers.

But no matter how personal the criticism that comes your way may be: stay factual! If you react emotionally now, you quickly have an aggressive posture and can say goodbye to the desire to appear credible and convincing.

Instead, openly question whether individual points of your suggestion might be in need of improvement. Ask the critic to specify their concerns and to propose solutions for the problem they have raised.

Find A Common Ground Of Interest

If your proposal is nevertheless rejected with a coherent argument, you should not simply look for counter-arguments. Otherwise it can quickly happen that you find yourself in a spiral of arguments with your colleagues. Everyone tries to refute every argument with their own and yet nobody is satisfied.

Instead, you should try to build on a common interest. Let's assume that we propose to our work colleagues a new structuring of the filing cabinets. With the previously chaotic sorting, it takes quite a long time to find a specific file. So saving time when searching for the required file would definitely be in our common interest. Who likes to spend ages looking for a file?

Consider this goal together and don't divide yourselves into the extreme positions pro and contra. Instead, you discuss a solution together how to sort the files in order to save time when searching.

This approach is similar to the principle of the Harvard Concept, which states that you should represent your interest and not your position.

Be Open To Criticism

Everyone knows these wretched complainers, naysayers and pessimists. But you shouldn't pigeonhole everyone who criticizes you.

Criticism makes you think. This will make you aware of weaknesses in your own proposal and you can think about how to fix them. It would be even better to involve your listeners and thus find other ways. This creates a solution that is supported by everyone.

The ICE Method

There is also a method called ICE on the subject of convincing other people. This offers a very insightful approach.

Abbildung 2: Die ICE-Methode


Change your point of view and put yourself in the position of your target group or target person. Think about what topics they are interested in.

In order to create the desire to implement your suggestion out of self-interest, you should address the connections between your idea and the interests of your target group.

In a gardening company, for example, the purchase of a motorized scarifier can be linked to the fact that your employees no longer have to use as much force to pull the hand scarifier and do not tire as quickly. An interest of employees and supervisors at the same time.


While you're about to put yourself in the shoes of your audience, consider what concerns and doubts they might have. This does not only have to be related to your proposal, but also to the implementation of it.

Older employees may fear not understanding the new device and embarrassing themselves. Reference this in your speech by bringing up a workshop to learn about the new device. This way you show that you have thought of them and increase the acceptance of your suggestion.


Before you make your suggestion, you should find out how the mood among your listeners is. You don't have the full attention of others if your boss had a dispute with your colleagues beforehand. It would also be inappropriate to present your proposal after an accident at work, when everyone present is still stressed out from the event.

In discussions with your work colleagues, check in advance whether they are receptive to a new idea. If not, you'd be better off waiting for another day when you can be sure of her attention.


Of course, it's not easy to convince other people of your idea and get them excited. But you can drastically increase the probability through your personal style, the right time and some empathy.

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