You may have clicked on this title because you were curious about the art of persuasion, or because you know me, or because you want to know something about what I write on my blog. Today I want to discuss how powerful WORDS are. Words, with their underlying meanings and the tone with which they are delivered. If you know how to craft words in the proper way, you can become very persuasive. Before I give you any tips on this particular skill, notice how the title of this post is about the ‘art’ of persuasion, which probably eliminated any negative connotation you could have had if it was titled differently. For example, do you think you would have been more or less likely to read if the word ‘persuasion’ was replaced with ‘manipulation,’ ‘convincing,’ or ‘conning?’ See how the words themselves have connotation and layers of meaning behind them?
Lately I’ve been reading this book called “Lexicon,” by Max Barry that I recommended on my 10 Ten Summer Reads and its got me thinking about the way words are strung together to convey ideas and emotions (The book itself is a fictional story, but the concept behind it is what motivated this post).
Yesterday I was at Target and as I was paying the cashier asked me if I wanted to sign up for a Target card. Immediately I said no, because I have conditioned myself to bristle against any kind of credit anything. In my mind I have determined that anyone trying to get me to open up a new card is trying to talk me into spending money that I shouldn’t spend. I don’t want to accumulate any credit card debt if I don’t have to, so I always say no when they ask me.
I’ve probably been pitched this same Target Card thirty times by thirty different people, but I put up a wall as soon as I heard ‘credit card,’ which is funny, because they didn’t even say credit card- they said Target Card. If I would have LISTENED better, I would have realized that it’s not a credit card at all. It’s just a card acts like a debit card and saves you 5% each time you use it.
It made me realize how if you have a preconceived notion about something, how difficult it can be to break it down. When trying to persuade someone, you have to watch out for words that create automatic walls, because as soon as that happens you don’t stand a chance. The hard part is that each person will have different “wall words” than the next. If you hit a wall, it will be like trying to sell meat to a vegetarian (me!) and you won’t get far.
Here are a few tip’s on the Art of Persuasion:
- Timing– I learned this concept as a young girl- in fact I got so good at it, my grandpa had a talk with me about not manipulating my parents. I figured out that I was much more likely to get what I wanted if I made my request when my parents were happy and not stressed. As an adult that now has to persuade my kids, I would add that you will have better success if they are full and not overtired (read: I have a toddler.)
- Side by Side. If you want your significant other/kids to weed the garden, do the dishes or take out the trash, do one part yourself and then ask if they would mind helping you. I’ve noticed I get a much better response if I’m contributing along side them.
- Figure out if they are a Positively Motivated or a Negatively Motivated Person. My husband and I are totally opposite on this one. I am much more likely to do something if there is something fun or exciting at the end of it- positive motivation. My husband is much more driven by negative motivation- If he doesn’t get something done in time there will be some dire consequence. He’s great under pressure. Me- not so much. Figure out their motivation.
- Downgrade– This is a trick your kids use all the time! They ask you to take them to get a new puppy and you say ‘no way,’ then when they ask you to take them to the park, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. You can use that same logic in reverse. Watch out kiddos- we’ve got your number!
- People love to be in the majority– If you want to change someone’s perspective on something, give them evidence to show how people around them are already having success doing what you’re suggesting. This is very effective in a work setting.
- Have a good attitude– People are drawn to the ideas of people who are happy and passionate. Know what you want. Be passionate about it and people will see it in you and want it for themselves.
- Showcase the FEELING instead of something tangible– People are much more motivated by their emotions than logic. No I don’t want to spend $350 to purchase a new Blendtec blender. BUT do I want to FEEL like I can create healthy options for me an my kids to eat? Do I want to feel like I have control over the nutritional value of what I’m eating? You better believe it.
- Challenge- Everyone loves a good challenge. If you’re anything like me, just tell me I can’t do it and I’ll work at it until I prove you wrong. Tell your teenagers you bet they can’t read three books this summer. Who knows, maybe it will work! (If you try this, check out this list of favorite young adult books I featured on July 4th on my Facebook Page!)
As listeners there are three underlying motivators that come into effect: Ethos, Pathos & Logos. Each can work individually, but if you employ all three, you will have a much more effective argument.
Ethos- The appeal to authority. Basically if I’m a qualified expert on what I’m talking to you about, you are much more likely to accept what I’m saying. This is why people are always introduced before a big speech- that audience needs to know WHY they should trust the presenter.
Pathos- The appeal to emotion. If I give an impassioned speech, or show you a video about the need for clean water for orphaned children remote villages, you are much more likely to identify on an emotional level.
Logos- The appeal to logic. Data, a direct correlation between point A to point B & C.
So to sum up, you will become even better at the art of persuasion if you:
- Know your audience- What motivates them, what they value and what things will cause them to put up a wall.
- Timing is everything.
- Know what you’re talking about- let them know WHY they should listen to you.
- Be passionate about what you want.
As you’re going through the next few days, notice the way things are phrased, see if you have any walls you haven’t notice before. Try some of these suggestions and see if they help. I’m not talking about conning anyone into something… I’m hoping you will use these tips for POSITIVE things. Let me know how it goes!
See ya Friday!