Four Steps to Influence People

Persuasion Tools

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)

As promised last month, in this article on how to influence others, I’m going to show you the core elements of a persuasion strategy. I will share with you a four-step model called “SWAY”©. I have called it “SWAY”© because when you have good persuasion skills, you will be able to sway people’s opinion in your direction! You will be able to do that because you will first figure your audience out and then be able to give them what they want.Let’s kick off!

‘S’ is for ‘Significance‘ because you need to find out the person’s interest in the matter you plan to try and influence them on. Find out if they have a particular need as meeting this need will be a great way to bring them onboard. How do you find out what’s going on for someone? By asking them questions of course. There is an art to asking the right questions, the ones which will unlock meaning and this is beyond the scope of this article but let me encourage you to ask both questions that clarify, that dig into someone’s meaning, as well as questions which elaborate. The main risk is around assumptions: you assume that you know what the person wants and so don’t ask enough questions or you assume that they use words in the same way you do. So don’t hesitate to probe. People love talking about themselves, their ideas and views so don’t be bashful!

‘W’ is for ‘Way’ as in the person’s way of being, what makes them tick. We don’t all function in the same fashion so pay attention to what people say. Most of us unconsciously translate others’ words into our own, a mental process we don’t notice and which sustains our erroneous impression that other people are like us. But don’t fall into that trap. Really listen to the other person’s vocabulary. Some people are the “glass half empty” kind while others the “glass half full” kind. Some people love details, others just want the big picture. Some like time to reflect while others love to decide quickly. Because of their different styles, it is unlikely that all of these people will respond well to a single style of communication and yet this is what most of us do: we rarely adjust to our audience.

‘A’ is for ‘Adapt‘ because, having found out how to best approach your audience, it is now time to adjust your memo, your presentation, whatever mode of communication you’re using to your target audience. When you use the same kind of language as someone else and echo their thoughts, they are likely to notice and appreciate which creates a good rapport and will facilitate your capacity to get the person to respond as you wish. This is a short description but this stage is possibly the most challenging step in that process of changing oneself to improve our influence capabilities.

Finally, ‘Y’ is for ‘get readY‘ – yes I know it’s a stretch but that’s me being creative!  This last part is about the various activities around getting your message ready. For example, the possible use of stories instead of abstract messages in order to facilitate a connection with the person(s) you are addressing. How to construct your communication depending on the outcome you want. How to prepare for questions and how to invite the kind of questions you want. Possibly even more importantly, how to anticipate objections: one of my tricks was to mention a few myself. And, a final, nice touch: how to show appreciation for your audience’s time and attention. These are a few of the kinds of activities needed in this step. The challenge here is to cover enough — if not all — bases so that your communication is full of impact.

So there you have it: “SWAY©. It’s quite a high-level description to keep this article a reasonable length. Have a go, see what you can make of it and don’t hesitate to let me know how you get on by emailing me directly at

And for other Career Acceleration Tips, why don’t you check out the categories box by scrolling up a bit: it will be on the right hand side and you can search for Tips on topics that interest you, like interview skills or building up your self-confidence. To your career success!

Select Your Coaching Tip:

Popular Coaching Tips

You will greatly benefit if