The Art of Persuasion

December 16, 2023

By Ross Bonander

The art of persuasion represents the history of shrewd but diplomatic manipulation — getting people over the fence and onto your side without the use of force. Its ultimate goal is basic, but difficult: To convince your audience to internalize your argument, then embrace it as a part of their core belief system.

life hacks

In his book, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini defines six weapons of influence: reciprocation, commitment/consistency, authority, social validation, scarcity, and liking/friendship. Below, we’ll look at a number of persuasive techniques and how some of Cialdini’s “weapons” can be applied, along with some hints from Aristotle and one rather innovative technique offered up by two guys with distinctly Hollywood backgrounds.

Manufacture a need
Attempting to persuade others to believe you when you lack an identifiable urgency is pointless. If the thing you want — support, money, approval — isn’t obvious, you’ll need to make it obvious by manufacturing a profound need and lacing it with urgency. Cialdini’s weapon of scarcity comes into play. He writes, “People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare or dwindling in availability.”

Advertisers rely on first creating a need for you (Nothing else can dehydrate your food like a Ronco Food Dehydrator), then on creating the notion of scarcity (and you have five minutes to buy one at this amazing price). In the professional world, you have two such agents on your persuasive side: time, and the indeterminate actions of your competitor. In order to get your audience on your side, you have to convince them of a need they may not be aware they had. For example, you need to get a program off the ground immediately because now is the only time it can be implemented with the best possible results.

Use loaded words
Politicians and advertisers use loaded words every day. Consider the commonly used phrases “war on terror,” “defending democracy” or “all natural.” What precisely do they mean? Not even an effectively drawn-out response could deliver the connection and the true meaning of these terms. In the desire to persuade, meaning itself is often secondary when loaded words are used.

For example, Warren Buffet rarely fails to refer to his investors as “partners,” though they do not meet this definition. He knows, however, that doing so instills a sense of equality and fraternity in them without his having to give up a single thing. Cialdini’s ideas of both reciprocation (“People are more willing to comply with requests from those who have provided such things first”) and liking/friendship (“People prefer to say yes to those they know and like”) can be seen in Buffett’s simple, but loaded, choice of words.

Speak their language
Again, “People prefer to say yes to those they know and like.” To that end, a basic means of persuasion involves not only using jargon they understand and recognize, but simply using the name(s) of your audience. It’s as fundamental as meeting someone for the first time; if later on you’re able to remember their name, you’re bound to make a far better impression. It massages the ego and convinces the listener both that somebody has remembered their name, and that they proved worthy of having their name remembered.

The next three techniques — ethos, pathos and logos — appear as modes of persuasion in Aristotle’s On Rhetoric. Combining all three modes properly has the potential to craft an extremely persuasive argument.

Appeal to authority (ethos)
Of authority, Cialdini writes, “People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise.”

An appeal to authority is meant to satisfy your audience that you come from a position of power, whether you are demonstrating your own in-depth knowledge on the topic; your own qualifications; a display of your own interest of commitment in the matter; or you’re introducing the words or work of an individual who is an established authority in order to align their views with your own.

Appeal to emotion (pathos)

Too often, people incorrectly assume that the business world is only concerned with facts. While numbers have their place and should never be ignored entirely, an appeal to emotions can prove especially effective in a business setting.

The key is to evoke an emotional response by using metaphors or appealing to a sense of risk and adventure — without overdoing it.

Appeal to reason (logos)
Appealing to reason is the application of unimpeachable facts and figures to influence your audience. For many in the professional world, there may be no better form of persuasion. In conjunction with ethos, using reason and logic will help to convey the impression of authority, in part because you appear supremely prepared.

Tell a story
Finally, former Hollywood consultants Robert Dickman and Richard Maxwell, the authors of The Elements of Persuasion, warn not to overlook the persuasive power of storytelling. They believe that we organize our thought processes according to stories and argue that “every great leader is a storyteller.” To them, a story is “a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels an action, which transforms our world,” and as such, can be utilized as a technique in persuasion.

They outline the five elements of a successful story: The story is told with passion, through the eyes of a hero, one who first encounters an antagonist, then experiences an awareness, and this awareness leads to the ultimate transformation.

The point, then, is to dress your presentation to persuade in the skin of a story. Position what you’re chiefly trying to persuade (a financial opportunity) as the hero; known obstacles as the antagonist (risk of financial loss); insert your primary argument as the awareness (reasons risk is reduced); and the ultimate transformation as your perceived outcome (financial reward). And, of course, tell it with passion.

well-planned wiles
The art of persuasion is loaded with numerous techniques in addition to the ones listed here. Some are less than ethical (such as deliberate deception), but they all work toward the same goal: To convince your audience to internalize your argument, then embrace it as a part of their core belief system.


Link this article to your favorite Social Network! Thanks!These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • blogmarks
  • co.mments
  • digg
  • Fark
  • Ma.gnolia
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • scuttle
  • Simpy
  • Spurl
  • YahooMyWeb


Got something to say?

Mp3sparks vpn