Gentle Persuasion: Subtle Ways To Get What You Want

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 11, 2022

Gentle persuasion is an art form. It is how people get the things they want without coming off as demanding, needy, or self-centered. Lots of "experts" will try to tell you that you can influence someone by the way you stand or the way you look, but here are 13 simple practices of gentle persuasion that can be used in any situation and why they can help you.

Know What You Want

Getting What You Need Requires Communication And Being Yourself

Before you can get what you want, you have to know exactly what it is you desire. The more defined your end-goal is, the easier it will be to argue your case or achieve something. This area of persuasion is often the one that takes the most time and planning. You should narrow down your expectations to the options that best fit you while thinking about how flexible you are willing to be when all is said and done. If you can walk into a negotiation or challenge with a clear mind, you are already one step ahead of the game.

Be Kind

The popular phrase, "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar" is especially true when it comes to persuasion. Thanks to basic psychology, we know people are more likely to find solutions when they're treated with respect, value, and a smile. If what you want requires the help of others, this is key. Careful though, you do not want to come off as insincere. Show the same level of kindness you would go to your friends and family,so your natural personality shines through.

Do Your Research

The more information you have,the better prepared you will be to get what you want. Whether you're after a job or educational opportunityor perhaps the chance to be a part of a large project, at some point during talks someone will likely ask you, "why do you think you deserve this?"

This is a chance to wow them with your dedication to your end-goal. You can discuss how you relate to the history of a particular company or story, present facts or statistics about why you're the best fit, or how you can play a role in some anticipated future.

A job candidate who walks into an interview saying, "I want this promotion because the market projectsa 43% increase within 10 years, and I want to be at the forefront of that change and direct that growth," will fare better than one who simply says, "I want to grow my career."


Mirroring is a technique often used in sales industries. It is when one person subtly takes on the qualities of another. For example, if a client you're working with is a fast talker and laughs a lot, it is in your best interest to take on their mannerisms and to pace to form a connection with them.

Avoid copying their communication style and gestures too much though. You want to show you have qualities in common, not that you do not have your personality. You are more likely to get what you want from someone else if they can identify with you.

Act The Part

Sometimes, acting as if you already have the thing you want, is a great tool for gentle persuasion. For example, if you want a senior position in management, it helps to dress, talk, and act like you already fill your desired role.

In the corporate world, a phrase is often tossed around. "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." This logic can be applied to many situations. The more others can associate you with the thing you would like to have or the thing you want to be, the more open they will be to give it to you.

Show Confidence

When someone has strong confidence, it radiates from them from the way they carry their body to theway they shake someone's hand. Having confidence opens a lot of doors because it leads others to believe you know what you're doing. Often, simply believing you can get the thing you want is enough to push others out of your way.

Use Eye Contact

A person's level of eye contact can tell us a lot about them. Someone who looks away from others too much is often seen as shy and insecure, while someone whose gaze bears into others is typically thought of as abrupt and demanding. With the right amount of eye contact, you can show that you are competent and believable, making it easy to sell your ideas or beliefs to someone else.

Be Proactive

If there is something you want out there, it is important actually togo after it. If you wait for others to give it to you, you could potentially have to wait a very long time (or it may never happen). Pushing yourself to take the first step is hard, but it is what sets the gears in motion.

When you want something, make immediate changes in your life to make that thing more attainable. These changes can be physical, mental, emotional, or social. Some may even take more time to happen than others. If other people can see you are setting yourself up for success, they will be more likely to take a chance on giving you what you need to get there.

Be Direct

Gentle persuasion is not all about finding sly ways to influence people. Sometimes it's about getting the thingyou desire with the least amount of effort. There is no better way to get right to the point than to come out and ask for what you want simply. You never know what the answer will be until you ask the question.

If you choose to use this tactic, make sure you ask the right person at the right time. Be prepared with facts about why you deserve what you're asking for, and have the knowledge to answer any follow-up questions that might come your way. Your boldnessand noticeable preparation will come across as honest and confident.

Sell Yourself

Another technique often used in the sales industry, is to create a problem and then sell the solution to that problem. For example, if you were trying to sell a bike to someone who commutes with a car every day, your angle might be, "How would you get to work if your car broke down?" You could then launch into a lengthy presentation about why bikes are more reliable, have fewer mechanical issues than cars, and are less expensive to fix.

Try to think about why going without the thing you want is a problem for you and the person you're negotiating with. Make a case for why they need you to have the thing you are asking for or why you are the solution to a problem they haven't yet seen. The better you are at creating a benefits-based (in their favor) presentation for yourself, the more likely it is they will see the value in meeting in your needs.

Follow Up

Sometimes you do not get an immediate answer when you ask for the thing you want. In this case, it is important to set future expectations. Let the person you are talking to know when you will followup with them. For example, if you are waiting to hear back on a job opportunity, let your interviewer know, "I will touch base with you next Friday if I don't hear from you before then." Doing this puts responsibility back on the person you are negotiating with to uphold their end of the deal and meet your expectations.

It never hurts to get personal with someone else either. Do what you can to learn about the person you are asking something from. Send them personalized thank you letters or ask about projects they are working on. You can even inquire about friends or family they mention during your conversations if appropriate. Knowing they matter to you outside of your request will make them more willing to help you.

Be Flexible

Getting What You Need Requires Communication And Being Yourself

While you probably have an idea of exactly what it is you want, it is always wise to have an acceptable range that goes along with that. If you want to have a lead role in a movie, follow that dream, but don't turn away supporting cast roles just because you are too set on one idea. Sometimes, the things we want are impossible to get on the timeline we desire,but we should always keep working toward them. Decide what will be sufficient enough for you to be happy if your ideal goal can't happen yet. Your patience will one day be rewarded.

Don't Waiver

Last but not least, when you ask for what you want, be clear and don't waiver unless their counteroffer falls within your acceptable guidelines. As hard as it will be to walk away from a chance to get something you have dreamed about, you want to make sure it is the best time to receive what you're being offered. Advocate for yourself and don't let others take advantage of you because you appear unsure or too passive.

Gentle persuasion doesn'thave to be some trick of psychology. Often, we can get the things we need by simply doing our part to get what we want, showing kindness and confidence, and showing up for ourselves. If you want to build your skills in any of these areas to reach the next step toward your future, contact a professional through BetterHelp. Our licensed mental health professionals can give you guidance for any situation, especially those which require you to connect with others to get what you need.


For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.