The art of #persuasion can help anyone seal deals and climb status ladders faster. This article shares 10 scientifically-backed strategies used by corporate leaders to gain easy-wins.

First published on Entrepreneur Magazine

Negotiation skills make you stand apart, no matter which industry you’re from or what position you hold. Today’s education and exposure produces armies of technically competitive human capital. How can you steal an advantage, and have things go your way? Here are 10 tools to become a charismatic diplomat and wield more influence:


Diplomacy is NOT about cheating or lying. It is about re-packaging truth in a more persuasive, attractive hamper.

Whatever you need to say, can be designed in a manner that REACHES people more deeply, taking into account their feelings and personal reactions.

Sticking to facts and being truthful is supremely important, since TRUST is crucial to diplomacy. Untrustworthiness gains short-term advantage, but loses the game in the long run.

2) SETTING IS EVERYTHING: Manipulate timing and environment.

A good diplomat remains alert to the ‘right moments’, to ‘make hay while the sun shines.’ A good example is Elon Musk meeting the Chinese Vice-President Wang Quishan recently, as American tariffs loom. This is his strategy to prevent diplomatic power from festering with the government alone, and shifting some power to non-governmental agencies such as technology empires (securing his business, needless to say). Leverage current affairs (not just big world affairs, but also INSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION), to know when to make your move.

The other aspect of ‘setting’ is choosing the right ambience for your talk. The European Journal of Social Psychology says that this simple act can impact your negotiation outcome by 40%! Choose what emotions you want to convey during that deal:

A formal oval-office setting makes a more intimidating impression of power (works best for wall-street style deals, lawyers etc.)

An elegant dinner environment spells sophistication and openness to interaction (new-client wins, fashion & luxury markets etc.)

A relaxing coffee-talk in a cafe works best to induce comfort, ease stiffness and makes you appear more friendly (works well for creative ventures such as advertising design, coaching & training topics etc.)


All people have an emotional side as well as a rational side. Neuroscience reveals that some people are more left-brained (analytical) while others are right-brained (emotional decision-makers).

So your pitch needs to have NUMBERS & PROJECTIONS, as well as concepts that TRIGGER ANTICIPATION, EXCITEMENT AND INSTANT GRATIFICATION. Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation – exclaims that stronger emotions, like temptation (for money, fame, pleasure) and alarm (fear of loss & distress, by creating urgency through deadlines etc.) can culminate in quick closure of deals.


Control your emotions and avoid impulsive reactions. A diplomat does not bark out orders, but inspires others to action instead. Blaming and shaming doesn’t work. Dale Carnegie said,

Arouse people with what THEY want, not with what you want.’

Encourage people to talk about themselves and make them feel important. Use the person’s name often, and hold eye-contact. Read people and contemplate what it’s like to stand in their shoes. A good doze of intuition, empathy, politeness, integrity and maturity defines a diplomat.


Clear, smart vocabulary can change your game. For example, let’s say your boss has been micro-managing you, and you require more freedom to function. Start by saying: “I appreciate all your support. Your inputs are insightful. I have been thinking about shouldering more responsibility, however. That way, we can both free up creative space for efficiency!” This is a lot more effective than getting spiteful with your manager! Ego needs to take a step back. You can have your way without compromising self-esteem, just by shifting vocabulary and tone of voice.


A negotiation should create a WIN-WIN situation for both sides. Hear the other side out with genuine interest. There is always a middle-path that satisfies everyone. This ensures on-going business association. Toughness and resilience are also required. You can’t be overly submissive either! Negotiation is a give-and-take process. Too much ‘niceness’- nodding too often, constant silly smiling to please people, fear to voice your opinions etc. are proven psychologically to take your power away. Prepare for the conversation beforehand, and stay engaged.


Sometimes, direct attack doesn’t work. We may have to address the issue INDIRECTLY. For example, if you are not happy with a certain new plan at work regarding budget distribution, gather facts to divert attention. You can create a convincing presentation showing how profits/employee-retention/customer-satisfaction is being adversely affected by undertaking that new plan. So you are shifting focus deliberately from budget to another topic such as employee retention. This will help people see differently, by leveraging a wider range of facts and emotions. It is like changing topics in a conversation that is not going your way.


Edward Slingerland, professor of Embodied Cognition at the University of British Columbia, has conducted extensive research that shows- the harder you try, the more needy you are, lesser your charisma. Desperation is profoundly counter-productive. Oren Klaff, a true wolf of Wall Street, even suggests, “Just when people are expecting you to chase after them, WITHDRAW. Give them a fear of losing you.” Confidently use humour, playfulness and unorthodoxy for a more pleasurable conversation. It creates positive neural associations, making the other persons more agreeable.

9) DRAMATIZE: Story-telling!

Convert your ideas to stories which people can relate to and VISUALIZE. For example, don’t stick to boring talks such as: “According to survey, it has been proven that ABC advertisements can have XYZ impact.” Instead, say: “Imagine you are passing Wonder Bridge, and you suddenly see this flash of colours overhead! You gaze up, and there’s a new LCD in the shape of a guitar...”

Giving visual cues are scientifically proven to grab more interest!


This is about long-term image and reputation management. Build an on-going rapport with people. Be known across hierarchies for excellence, dependability and talent. According to Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford, author of Power: Why Some People Have It and Some People Don’t, self-promotion raises your social status, and increases professional rewards. By sharing opportunities with people – giving them access to contacts, information, strategic tools, work support etc. builds loyalty and over time, raises your reputation.

Introverted persons usually have a problem with self-promotion. But as Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, states, there are numerous ways introverts can showcase their wins, made even more easy with tools like social media. Don’t be afraid to get noticed.


Thoughtless business leaders create toxic work environments. They lack emotional intelligence and don’t understand the negative impact that their behaviour causes to individuals, teams and to the organization. Diplomacy is all about managing personal and collective interests tactfully, reducing toxic interactions at work. It is a super-power that can sky-rocket your career.

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