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Is Vulnerability the Key to Persuasion?


People always roll their eyes when they hear that simply flashing a genuine smile is disarming (Part of it has to do with the brain and the release of oxytocin). But how else can you disarm someone to make them like you? Or make them feel like you’re their friend?

Chris Hadnagy shares a few ways you can not only disarm someone but position yourself in a place of power.

Using nonverbal communication to make someone comfortable

If you smile, tilt your head to expose your neck, and approach someone with your palms up, people will see you as inviting. Chris tends to speak loud and fast. And when he stands, he stands with his chest out. It comes across as authoritative, which is great when he’s teaching a class.

But if he’s interacting with an employee and needs them to perform better in their job, he can’t come across as authoritative and demanding. But if he smiles, tilts his head, and opens his hands, it’s more conversational and inviting. He’s inviting them to partner in the endeavor, and they’re comfortable in the conversation versus on edge.

Suspend your ego and embrace vulnerability

Who is one person in your life that you consider to be truly humble? When you are with that person, how do they make you feel? Comfortable, empowered, heard, seen?

Now, imagine if you were sitting somewhere and you heard people talking about you, and they used those words and feelings to describe you. Would you think, “I’m weak and pathetic?” No, right? You’d feel like a million dollars.

Yet the media, TV, and movies point to humility as a weakness. They only portray victims as humble and meek. The reality is that when you suspend your ego, you have to show vulnerability and humility. But how do you do it?

How can you show humility? Change the way you shake hands. People are taught that a quick, firm handshake exudes confidence. And it does.

But when Chris shakes someone’s hand, he offers his hand palm up. Why? Because when that person grabs your hand, theirs will be on top. Psychologically, it puts them in a position of power.

And when you‘re actively letting them have that position of power, you’re actually giving yourself the upper hand. Suspending your ego helps people feel comfortable and helps you win more deals.

Employ the 7 principles of elicitation

Once you’ve made the other part comfortable through nonverbal communication, suspending your ego, and embracing vulnerability, you can elicit information.

To properly elicit the information you need, you need to listen actively. And active listening means observing their body language and facial expressions. What is their body saying that their words aren’t telling you?

Once you learn to recognize their body language, you can drive the conversation forward in whatever direction you need to get the information you desire. The person should never suspect that you’ve just leveraged a conversation to gather information.

But how do you do that? Chris shares his seven-step process—and how it’s done—in episode #391 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast.