A Guide to Persuasive Skills, Including Examples

Job Interview Man and Woman
••• Copyright Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Persuasion in the workplace (or other environments) entails convincing others to follow a course of action, to agree to a commitment, or to purchase a product or service. Employers especially value persuasive skills because they impact so many aspects of the workplace resulting in increased productivity. However, persuasion techniques are also used in political and fundraising campaigns, legal procedures, and other areas.

Persuasive skills are used to influence many different stakeholders. These stakeholders include customers; co-workers; bosses; business partners; subordinates; donors; funding sources; judges;  juries; consumers; voters, and prospective employees. 

The Persuasion Process

The process of persuasion typically involves the following stages: 

1.  Assessing the preferences, needs, and predispositions of a targeted individual or group.  

2.  Establishing a rapport with targeted stakeholders.  

3.  Clearly articulating the benefits of accepting a proposed agenda or course of action. 

4.  Actively listening to the concerns of stakeholders and uncovering any objections to a proposal. 

5.  Presenting counterpoints in order to overcome any objections. 

6.  Recognizing any legitimate limitations to a proposal. 

7.  Modifying a proposal as needed in order to find a common ground with stakeholders. 

8.  Clarifying the terms of any final agreement.

9. Conducting follow-up in order to determine if any stakeholders have lingering doubts about a proposal.​

Examples of Persuasive Skills 

A - M

  • Analyzing a job and custom-tailoring a cover letter so that it's in sync with the key qualifications of a position. 
  • Articulating the benefits of working for an employer as part of a recruiting information event held on campus.
  • Asking a customer how her son or daughter is faring in college as part of building a relationship with the student and their family. 
  • Complimenting an employee on the successful completion of a task.
  • Composing a letter or email to prospective donors on behalf of a school's fundraising effort.
  • Convincing opposing parties in a divorce mediation to accept a fair proposal. 
  • Designing an incentive program for a sales team.
  • Developing a campaign slogan for a political candidate.
  • Encouraging a patient to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
  • Meeting with a staff member to assess his or her reaction to a proposed restructuring of the company.

N - Z

  • Negotiating a salary increase.
  • Praising someone after they have completed an especially rigorous stage of their workout program.
  • Presenting an argument to a judge for a motion during a trial or pre-trial proceeding.
  • Presenting a rationale to upper management in order to expand a departmental budget.
  • Offering a proposal to hire an assistant for the lead salesperson in a company who has indicated that he or she might leave due to concerns about their workload.
  • Recruiting volunteers for a community service project.
  • Securing signatures for a petition.
  • Securing and writing a celebrity testimonial as part of a commercial for a product or service.
  • Tailoring advertising copy to the preferences of a target demographic group.
  • Writing the script for a telephone fundraising pitch in order to raise money for a charitable organization.