Posted by: Professor | on August 1, 2009
Using Persuasion Techniques
How to persuade someone to do your bidding
In politics, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.
If you don’t know any persuasion techniques, you simply won’t accomplish anything in life. Think of all the great inventors and iconoclasts. What do they all have in common? They were able to persuade someone to invest in their ideas. Those people in turn, were able to persuade the people to go out and buy this thing.
If you’re not very good at persuasion, then you’ll never get a great job or that big raise. You never get that hot girl or dreamy guy. You’ll never get the thing you really want because you aren’t well practiced with brilliant persuasion techniques.
There are tons of books on this subject that focus on real estate persuasion or selling persuasion, but in reality, there is only one kind of persuasion: Getting someone to do what you want. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling boats, or houses, or vacuum cleaners. It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re selling yourself to a hiring manager or selling yourself on a first date. One of the greatest books on this subject is How to be an Expert Persuader in 20 Days or Less. Seems like a crazy title, but author, Michael Lee really distills the whole art of persuasion techniques into easy to remember and implement ideas. If your goal is to achieve success in this world, you will devour this book as soon as it’s downloaded.
Getting someone to agree with you
The first and often easiest thing is to get someone on your side. You can always flat-out ask for their support, but sometimes it’s easier to gauge their level of support by asking leading questions. “You’re not actually interested in all that nonsense, are you?”
This question is loaded, biased and leading. You have stated they aren’t and then almost dared them to disagree with you. Many people instinctively want to agree with people to avoid conflict. This question has the added bonus of implying they agree that it’s nonsense if they agree. This is one of the most powerful persuasion techniques because it plays on a person’s fear of discomfort.
If a whole group disagrees with you, then you will do well to separate them so that they don’t ruminate amongst themselves, thus strengthening their position against you. If you put each one in a group who do agree with you this could even cause others’ views to rub off on them. It’s a subtle influence technique and doesn’t provoke opposition. Good old Divide and Conquer…
Planting people who support you
Along those same lines of persuasion techniques is what the call “the Plant” in the spy world. At certain plays and shows, producers will plant people in the audience to act as though they’re really enjoying themselves. This will then spread to the other members in the audience, even if only slightly. It follows the same psychology that makes you laugh out loud with a group of people in a theater, but you might not ever (or rarely) laugh at loud at your TV set.
The same will work in a board room or group of underlings at work. If you suspect that your followers are disillusioned, then a few strategically located believers can do a world of good for changing minds and influencing outcomes. Always keep a finger on the pulse of what people think about certain things, this way you can move them around and encourage them to chum it up with people who stand in your way. This will keep the herd mentality of persuasion and influence in full effect.
Another important ability for a leader is to be able to be able to sway an audience; to rally the troops and to convince them of your argument. There are several keys to good persuasion techniques.
In what seems like a counter-intuitive point, a persuasive argument will actually contain facts that go against the point you are trying to make. For example, if I were trying to sell you a miracle hair growth formula I would say, “I can guarantee that it will make your hair grow back over the course of a few weeks. I don’t know whether it’s right for you though, Sir as it does have a tendency to make you a bit itchy at night… it’s more for extreme cases. It really depends on how much you feel you need hair.”
That is a good way to convince the poor sap to buy the hair growth formula because he will not see a motive for you to tell him the negative aspects of such a wonder drug. The fact that you don’t even recommend he buy it means that you should have no reason to lie to him about its effectiveness. People want the things they can’t have. When you say your product or service is just not for someone, they’ll want it even more. Also, if all of your points support your argument then you will come off as trying to sell too hard.
People appreciate honesty. When you trash on the very thing you’re trying to sell, it endears your subject to your cause. This type of friendly persuasion goes a long way with a lot of people.
Appeal to facts and statistics
“The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who’s spending time investigating it.”
~ George Bush
…effectively using facts to support an argument, no idea what argument this was supposed to support. No one said the guy could speak…
In a crisis, he who is the most knowledgeable in the situation will rise to power. That is to say that if you’re lost in the desert with an Army Commando or someone who grew up in the there, chances are that he’ll take over. It stands to reason that to be in charge most often you must become the most knowledgeable in the most fields… or at least appear to be.
Knowing all the facts and stats of the problem at hand will give you a built in authority that most people will simply bow to. To put it plainly, smart people can take control provided have enough confidence. No one wants a weakling for a leader.
An alternative to appealing to facts is to bring in the higher authorities, “Yes it is time for bed! Your father says so! And the Queen! And God!”
Appealing to emotions
Some of the most effective persuasion techniques all center on playing with someone’s emotions. “You don’t want your family to all burn to a crisp, do you?… Then buy this $50,000 sprinkler system.” No one wants to have harm come upon them or their family and friends so any time you press these buttons, you’re using powerful persuasion strategies. There is a great article about using emotions to influence people that digs much deeper into the subject.
Argument as a persuasion technique
Often we need to sway the opinion of a someone and this can lead to heated debate. If their argument seems bulletproof then there are still ways to beat it down. Rather than attack an argument head on, you can question motive, question underlying assumptions and suppositions to break down people’s points.
A successful argument starts with a simple fact that everyone can agree on then follows a seemingly logical set of steps to lead to the eventual conclusion you want your audience to agree with, for example: “A pea is green, yes? The Hulk is green too, yes? We can all agree that the Hulk is strong, right?… So green things must be strong. Therefore, peas, are very strong. Obviously this is nonsense, but you might be able to find a way to use it to get someone into bed…
Compromise / Offering a peaceful solution
If you can’t bring them round to your way of thinking you may have to settle for a compromise or at least give just a little bit of leeway so that you don’t seem stubborn.
This is often where you use one of the oldest persuasion techniques: starting from a higher position that you really need to. This is the age-old notion of haggling. You’re asking $5 for an apple when you really only need $2 to make a profit. Someone offers you $1 (probably what it’s actually worth) and you counter by saying, “I couldn’t let it go for less than $3.50.” At this point they offer $2.50 and BAM! $.50 extra profit! You’ve satisfied their ego into thinking they got a great deal and you’ve satisfied your bottom line.
The subliminal persuasion technique of compromise works wonders on that one opponent who will not back down even if they know they’re beaten.
There are hundreds of more persuasion techniques and learning them all will definitely help you to achieve even your craziest dreams. This is why further reading is definitely essential. Start with How to be an Expert Persuader and then work your way into neurolinguistic programming to really discover how to crawl into someone’s mind.