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Be Persuasive By Being Certain

01-08-09
Creative Commons License photo credit: sally9258

One of the most charismatic and persuasive personal qualities that you can possess is certainty.  Having an unshakable belief in yourself and in what you do is an extremely attractive quality mainly because there is so little certainty in the world.  Things are constantly changing and the world seems more chaotic every day.  This scares us.  A person who possesses certainty will attract a following because it has a calming effect on others.  Being certain takes some experience and some risk, but there are things you can do to become more certain.

Being Certain Involves Knowing What You Do Well and Doing It

One of the first steps to certainty is to identify and acknowledge personal qualities that you are very skilled at (or have the potential to become very skilled at.  Frankly, this involves a lot of trial and error and some self reflection.  These questions may help direct your thoughts.

  • Do you already know the things that you do well?
  • Have you received feedback from others on skills or personal qualities that you excel at?
  • Do you suspect that you can do something really well if you tried it?
  • What things do you love to do or have a strong desire to try?

Take some risks and start experimenting with things that you think you have some potential in or that you’ve already received favorable feedback on.  Here’s a hint:  you probably really enjoy doing them already or have a desire to try them.  These experiments will build self confidence and confidence tends to build upon itself once you get rolling.  Also, certainty is transferable to many different situations.  Building confidence in one area can impact a completely different area of your life.  However, always keep your strengths in mind as you have new experiences.

The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.  – William Jennings Bryan

Certainty is Communicated Through Body Language

The more that I go through life the more I believe that body language is the only true form of communication.  You can manipulate what comes out of your mouth much easier than what is being communicated through your body.  Here’s the cool thing about certainty – if you really have it, it’s communicated practically automatically through your body language.  But, for those of us who still have to fake it sometimes here’s a rundown of body language that communicates certainty.

  • Eye Contact – Maintaining eye contact is key to communicating certainty.  Looking down or away from the individual or group you are addressing tends to communicate that you are not confident in what you are saying or doing.
  • Posture– Particularly when you are presenting in front of a group, good posture with a straight spine and shoulders back communicates that you know what you are talking about and aren’t afraid of challenging questions.  Your body language is backing up the claim that you are knowledgeable about your subject.
  • No Fidgeting –  Tapping your feet, lots of gesturing, hands in pockets.  Your limbs should also tend to be straight and in a resting position.
  • Tone of Voice – This is a big one.  Generally, you want to keep a steady tone of voice.  You need to project without being really loud, the pace of your speech should be slightly on the slow side, and you want to keep the tone of your voice even, without a lot of pitch changes.

What do you think?  Did I miss any?  These four body language tips have helped me in my professional life when I have given presentations or had meetings with people who are higher up the ladder than myself (which is almost everyone!).  I needed to be able to communicate, rather quickly, that I am a capable, self confident person.  Since this is written from my own perspective, I understand that this body language advice is from an American/Western perspective and that appropriate body language is not the same the world over.

Certainty Will Make You a Leader

When I am at work, I often hear the phrase “Lead from where you sit,” which basically means that you can be a leader without formal authority.  It also means that there is something at which we can all be leaders.  Something that we love to do and something that we do well, something that is unique to us.

  • What is it that you possess certainty about?
  • Is there something that others always seem to look to you for leadership on?
  • Even if you don’t have formal authority, in what area do you believe you can be a leader?

Certainty or self belief is what you have when you don’t have anything else.  Find that thing that you have unshakable belief in and your certainty will persuade others to follow you.

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.  – Johann von Goethe

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Lance July 3, 2008, 1:27 pm

    Great quotes to go along with this Amanda. When I am certain (really certain), I’m not afraid to state my case and be bold. When I’m less certain on something, I’ll tend to not speak up (and avoid eye contact – body language, heh). We’re never going to be certain on everything, but I like you point that we can be certain (and persuasive) on things which matter to us. It sounds so easy reading it here!!

  • Amanda Linehan July 3, 2008, 7:09 pm

    Lance – “Bold” is a great word to describe the way that you act when you are really certain. I absolutely believe that there is something that everybody is certain about, but, you’re right, it’s not that easy!

  • Bene July 3, 2008, 8:49 pm

    Hey Amanda,
    This is Off-Topic. I am an INFP too! I’ll be following your blog to check out what you have to say and if it resonates with me. I got here thru Tina Su’s site.
    Just curious… have you ever taken the multiple intelligences test to see what your strengths are? Here is a great test: http://mypersonality.info … it takes less than 30 seconds to sign up.
    regards,
    Bene

  • Amanda Linehan July 5, 2008, 6:23 pm

    Bene – Thanks a lot for stopping by. I’m very glad to hear from another INFP! I will definitely check out the site you recommended – I love personality tests. 😉

    Hope you enjoy my blog.

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