A shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. – Henry B. Stendhal
Exploring the Psychology of Persuasion
Whether we realize it or not, we are being persuaded by our friends, family, colleagues, strangers, the government and the media on a daily basis. Most of this persuasion is very subtle and naturally stimulates our hidden needs, wants and motivations for a better and more fulfilling existence.
For the lucky few, the art of persuasion comes naturally and effortlessly. In fact, the world is their oyster and a canvas of their making. Yet for others, who have not mastered this fine psychological art the world is a daily struggle that leads them into ever deeper pits of emotional disappointment.
Today’s discussion will specifically focus on the fundamental aspects of persuasion and how you can use them to persuade others to your way of thinking.
First, we will identify the type of mindset that you must cultivate and the skills that need to be mastered in order to develop the fundamental credentials of persuasion. After which we will break down the psychological human motivators that must be stimulated in order to open the channels of persuasion. In addition to this, we will explore the generic process for persuasion that will help you get what you want, every time. And finally, we will break down a variety of obstacles to persuasion and discusses the fundamental laws that govern the art of persuading others to your way of thinking.
Your Persuasive Credentials
Within this section, we will identify the type of mindset that you must cultivate and the skills that need to be mastered in order to develop the fundamental credentials of persuasion.
The Persuasive Mindset
There are two key factors that will determine your level of persuasive ability. The first of these factors is your psychological mindset, and your ability to tap into this resource and use it to its greatest effect.
A persuasive person needs to cultivate a mindset that is built upon three fundamental layers.
- The first layer is built upon honor.
- The second layer is built on trust.
- The third layer is built upon presence
Each layer must be cultivated and practiced in order to enhance one’s ability to persuade others in a variety of social settings.
Methods for Gaining Honor
When others perceive you as being honorable, you ultimately win their respect and approval. They openly acknowledge you as a person and support your beliefs, values and the convictions and ideas you stand for.
In order to gain honor from others, you must cultivate the following qualities:
Show a Willingness to be Taught
Openly show a willingness to be taught by other people.
We cannot be an expert at everything, and we certainly do not know all that there is to know about a certain subject, person or topic.
When you open yourself up to be taught by others, you are unlocking a variety of new perspectives and ideas that will help you to clarify what you know, while potentially providing you with greater insights into areas you may not be familiar with.
Be consistent with thought, word, and action.
People are drawn to certainty. They want certainty in their lives. They want to know and be able to predict what will happen next, what a person will say or do, and what the world will look like tomorrow, next week, next month and so forth.
When you are consistent with thought, word, and action, others will see you as being someone who brings them comfort and certainty.
Display Unconditional Acceptance
Most people are tough on the exterior while at the same time very self-conscious on the interior. They want to feel that they are being accepted by others no matter what mistakes they may have made in the past or are making in the moment.
When you show unconditional acceptance of another person, you are automatically displaying a deep level of care and respect that makes the other person feel comfortable and secure within your presence.
Display a deep level of compassion for the problems and difficulties that other people are experiencing on a daily basis.
Everyone moves through difficult periods. During moments like these, we seek understanding and compassion from others. Yes, others may not know what we are going through, however, if they are able to understand and sympathize with us, then that makes us feel comfortable and secure in their presence.
This naturally leads to honor and a deep level of respect for the other person.
Show Genuine Interest and Support
Showing a genuine interest in other people and supporting their passions, ideas and ventures naturally brings you closer together and helps develop deep levels of rapport and respect.
Ask others about the good things in their lives, about the things that make them smile, or the things that bring a happy tear to their eye. It is these things that will stimulate a deep emotional bond between the two of you and will help grow the honor and respect they feel when in your presence.
Display Patience with People
Often people need time. Time to learn a new skill, to let go of an unresourceful habit, or simply time to open up and express their true feelings and needs.
When others feel that they are not being rushed, hurried or forced into something by others, this naturally brings about a feeling of comfort and calm within their body and mind.
It is, therefore, better to ask a person questions that will lead them to find their own motivation and answers, rather than to instruct or lecture them about the possible solutions.
People are naturally drawn to those who display a deep level of discipline in thought, word, and action.
Discipline brings about certainty. When they are certain that you are disciplined enough to follow through on what you say, then this naturally brings about a deep sense of confidence in your ability and a respect for the stability you bring forth into their lives.
Integrity is a spirit of being whole, complete and living consistently with your highest values.
When others have confidence that you will stay true to your beliefs and values, that you will keep your word and not stray off course onto unexpected and unpredicted paths, then they will consequently honor and respect you wholeheartedly for who you are completely and without question.
Cultivate a Solution Focused Attitude
Even though some people might find it difficult to admit this, they do actually appreciate being around those who live with optimism and cultivate a solution focused attitude.
We are all creatures who seek to experience deep levels of pleasure in our lives. We live on hope for a better future on a daily basis, even though some of us may completely disregard this fact.
If you are able to instill a little hope into your interactions with others; to help them see the solutions where they previously saw only problems and obstacles, then you will ultimately gain their respect and honor.
Methods for Gaining Trust
When others perceive you as being trusting, you naturally open up a channel of communication that will bring forth the other person’s deepest thoughts, feelings, opinions, values and beliefs into the open.
This channel of communication will provide you with deep insights and understandings that will allow you greater freedom to persuade this person to your way of thinking.
In order to gain trust from others, you must cultivate the following qualities:
Others must see you as being a credible person, one who doesn’t provide empty promises, incomplete facts, over exaggerated information and the like.
When you are seen as being credible in another person’s eyes, they naturally believe in you, in your ability, in the promises you make and in the actions you take.
Credibility can be acquired when people speak highly of you to others, and when your every word and action is consistent with all the facts, statistics and other information you present them with.
Once you have obtained credibility, you will have obtained another’s belief in you and in your abilities. And once this belief has been established, then trust is a natural outcropping of this outcome.
Congruence is a state of harmony that you naturally and consistently project out into the world.
When you are congruent, your thoughts, beliefs, values, words, emotions, decisions, actions and behaviors are all in harmony with one another. Hence, you will not say one thing and do something else, otherwise, this will break the congruent energy you project out into the world.
When people see you as being congruent, they are naturally drawn to you out of respect for this harmonious energy you are projecting. This likewise brings about deep levels of trust, as others realize that you have nothing to hide and that what you project is what they can expect.
People naturally have faith and hold trust in those that they see as being competent in their field of endeavor. Therefore, if you are presenting yourself as an expert in a certain subject area, then others expect you to be able to answer all their questions, to have a full grasp of the skills that are required to help and assist them to get the results they are after, and to have the tools and resources on hand to provide suitable solutions that they need.
Once you show to others that you are competent and capable, then this will naturally raise the trust factor and will allow you greater leverage in persuading them to your way of thinking.
People are naturally drawn to those who have a deep level of self-confidence in themselves, their ability and in their capacity to follow through on the promises they make.
Confidence naturally manifests into assurance, certainty, capability and above all trust. However, please don’t mistake confidence for cockiness or vanity. People are turned off by the latter two and you will lose all trust and credibility with others the moment you begin indulging in these qualities.
Display Strong Character
A person with a strong character is someone who doesn’t break down emotionally, who stands tall when obstacles and problems overwhelm others, and consistently projects who they are openly and expressively without ulterior motives or a hidden agenda.
Strong personalities such as this naturally draw others to them, while gaining the respect, confidence, and trust that is required to become a persuasive individual.
Methods for Gaining Presence
Presence is a state-of-being, acting and doing that builds confidence, belief and moves others emotionally to do things that they previously did not believe they were capable of.
With it, the world is your oyster. However, without it, you will struggle to even begin persuading others to your way of thinking.
In order to develop presence, you must display the following:
Present Powerful Goals and Vision
People are moved by powerful goals and visions of the future that brings about great pleasure and excitement.
It is important to consciously present people with a moving outlook that will excite and stimulate the logical and emotional centers of their brain.
To do this, simply talk about big ideas, dreams, and goals, while presenting fantastic visions of how you can help others feel better than they have ever felt before.
As a word of warning, please make sure that these goals and visions don’t contradict the qualities discussed above (you must follow through on the promises you make), otherwise you may have presence, however, you will lose trust and honor, which will significantly subdue your capacity to persuade others to your way of thinking.
Presence is also created through a sense of optimism.
People will only be persuaded by those who provide them with optimistic solutions, ideas and a sense of purpose that will drive and motivate them towards their personal goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, without optimism, you will find it very difficult to persuade others to your way of thinking.
Display Empathy Towards Others
When we empathize with others we naturally tap into their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that make up their psyche at any given moment in time.
Empathy is a powerful means of really getting to know another person at a deep level of understanding that will likewise help open doors to ever deeper insights into their hidden needs and the wants that they seek to satisfy.
Once you are aware of these motives you will have a greater capacity to persuade and influence people to your way of thinking.
Display Passion and Charisma
Charisma is defined as:
“A spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people”.
Charisma by itself is difficult to describe, as it is a natural outcropping of many different qualities and personality characteristics. It is something that is developed over time that requires discipline and patience.
To begin developing your charisma, start by cultivating the qualities discussed above.
Indispensable Skills of Persuasion
The second factor that determines the strength of your persuasive ability rests upon a dozen key fundamental skills that will assist you with enhancing your influence when interacting with others.
Let’s briefly go through each of these skills and identify their importance to the persuasive process:
Our ability to think effectively is an important element of the persuasive process.
There will always be numerous psychological and physical challenges that may very easily impede persuasion. As a consequence, we must be mentally prepared and ready for the obstacles that lie ahead.
The following are three fundamental personal skills that must be learned in order to enhance your persuasive abilities:
When we think critically we come to understand that what we see on the surface may indeed be very different to what lies beneath the still waters.
Critical thinking enables us to uncover a world of information and insight that at first glance may tell a different story. It also allows us to unlock a person’s true needs and motives, thusly enhancing our ability to persuade them.
Creative thinking is an important component of persuasion that enables us to persuade others in unique and clever ways.
When, for one reason or another, you are not making progress in persuading another person to your way of thinking, then creativity will become your greatest ally. An ally that will enable you to think outside the box, change your approach and consequently unlock deep insights about the situation or the psychology of the person you are attempting to persuade.
Ability to Solve Problems
The persuasive process is riddled with ever-changing and transforming challenges that can potentially stop you in your tracks. In such instances, your ability to solve problems in an effective and efficient manner will provide you with the necessary guidance to move you through the persuasive process with a far greater clarity of thought.
Effective persuasion involves a certain level of expertise in a number of social skill areas.
Each of these skills alone builds on different levels and aspects of persuasion that are essential to the persuasive process.
Let’s briefly take a look at each one of them and identify the levels of persuasion they are targeting:
Public speaking is a persuasive tool that is used to great effect when persuading groups of people through logical and emotional stories. It provides us with the confidence and the presence that is required to present our message effectively to more than one person at a time.
Public speaking teaches us how to effectively project our voice through a room, and how to present our message in a way that is understood by a variety of people with differing social, cultural and educational backgrounds.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the sales process.
When we are speaking in public we present our message to groups of people, however when it comes to selling, it often involves a one-on-one situation requiring a great deal of trust, respect, and honor. Listening also becomes a critical aspect of the sales process that progressively identifies and breaks down the other person’s deepest needs and wants.
With these three key elements in our pocket (trust, respect, and honor), we will be much more persuasive, enabling us to persuade others to our way of thinking far more readily.
Leadership is your ability to persuade another person to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve. As you can probably tell, this is no easy feat.
People are very resistant towards undertaking certain and specific tasks. Yet, as a leader, your objective is to persuade them through a sense of inspiration and honor to do something that is for their greater good and for the greater good of all others concerned — no matter how distasteful the task may seem in the moment.
Leadership is all about inspiration, and this can only come through a sense of honor, trust and respect for the leader.
Negotiation is a game of balance that requires open channels of communication and a steadfast problem-solving ability.
Your goal is to solve the other person’s problem while giving as little away as possible. Which is very much a game of chess. You realize at the beginning of the game that you must sacrifice a certain number of chess pieces in order to maneuver your opponent towards a suitable outcome that will support both of your goals. You, therefore, learn to play the balancing game of give-and-take, all the while trying to persuade the other person that what you are taking isn’t worth nearly as much as what you are giving away.
Again this requires your ability to establish honor and trust within the relationship.
Networking is an intricate game of relationship building. We build one-to-one relationships and work on establishing honor and trust throughout the networking process. We also seek to find common goals, values, objectives, and ideas that will allow us to bridge the gap between what is probable and what is definite and possible.
Networking teaches us the art of getting to know people at a deep level of understanding, then using this knowledge of their needs and wants to persuade them to accept our ideas or ways of thinking.
Rapport creation extends from networking and requires us to develop strong emotional ties with the people in our lives.
Once these emotional bonds have been locked away at a deep psychological level, we can use them to persuade other people to accept our ideas or ways of thinking.
Let’s now quickly take a look at the three key aspects of rapport creation that will help you build trust and honor:
Body Language Awareness
At any one moment in time, we are all communicating with others at two very different levels of awareness. The first level is verbal, while the second level can only be understood by observing a person’s body language.
Often the communication that is verbalized is only part of the message, while the deep insights can only be gained by observing the subtleties of the unconscious message that is being sent through a person’s body movements.
You are only as persuasive to the extent that you understand and identify with the message behind the words that a person is speaking.
Once you have gained clarity and fully comprehend this subtle message, you will be better able to adjust your persuasive approach accordingly in order to target this person’s underlying wants and needs.
Communication skills encompass the habits of effective listening and talking.
Understanding how best to use each of these skills is relatively simple. However, being consciously aware of them every time you are communicating with someone can be difficult at first, yet over time we can learn to slowly move away from our old ineffective communication habits, and enable ourselves to develop deeper levels of rapport with the people in our lives.
Finally, we have the art of seduction. A skill no doubt mastered by the great Don Juan’s of this world who sweep women off their feet and into a world of ecstasy and unbridled pleasure.
Yes, these are great stories of persuasive seduction. But do they really have any merit?
Human Motivators: What All People Want
Within this section, we will break down the psychological human motivators that must be stimulated in order to open the channels of persuasion.
The Six Critical Human Needs
The six human needs are an indispensable component of human motivation and behavior. Credit for their development can be attributed to Anthony Robbins and the great work he is doing around the world helping people improve their lives.
On one level or another, whether we know it or not we are all seeking to satisfy as many of the six human needs as possible to the greatest extent possible — unknowingly realizing that to experience them is to reach a state of true and lasting happiness and fulfillment.
These six human needs essentially dictate how we live our lives by influencing the decisions we make and actions we take on a daily basis.
As you read the short summary about each human need, keep in mind everything that we have discussed thus far, and how you could potentially apply this information to persuade others to your way of thinking.
For a more in-depth summary, please have a read of The Six Human Needs article.
The Need for Certainty
People have a natural desire to live with a feeling of certainty.
We do not want things to change, we seek comfort, we seek security, and we want to know that everything will work out just the way we imagined it. As a result, we tend to stay within our comfort zones experiencing the familiar and expected.
How can I persuade others by stimulating their need for certainty?
The Need for Uncertainty
When certainty becomes far too predictable or boring, then we consciously or subconsciously seek to create uncertainty in our lives. We naturally do this by stepping outside our comfort zones, or by undertaking activities that we would tend to avoid under normal circumstances.
Uncertainty creates the feeling of excitement and exhilaration that leads us towards the unknown. Of course the moment we tend to over-satisfy this human need, we experience high levels of stress, anxiety or fear. Hence, in such instances, we will naturally move back into our comfort zones seeking a sense of certainty and security.
How can I persuade others by stimulating their need for uncertainty?
The Need for Significance
As we go about our lives, we continuously seek to feel important, unique and significant in one way or another. We do this by seeking to obtain status, acknowledgment or praise for our efforts.
We also obtain significance by achieving our goals, by learning new things or by simply wearing the latest fashion styles and trends.
How can I persuade others by stimulating their need for significance?
The Need for Connection
While striving for a sense of significance, we are at the same time driven to connect with others, life, and society in general. This type of connection can come in many forms including a connection with God, with other people, with nature, with groups, with pets, or even through self-sacrifice that leads to caring for another person’s needs.
As we go about our days we attempt to manage a very delicate balance between our need for connection and our need for significance. The greater the balance between these two needs, than the greater sense of fulfillment and happiness we will experience in our lives.
How can I persuade others by stimulating their need for connection?
The Need for Growth
In one way or another, we are seeking to experience a sense of growth as we progress through life. This growth can be achieved by learning new things, developing skills and talents, striving for betterment or simply learning from our everyday experiences.
If we are not growing, then we will tend to stagnate and experience bouts of dissatisfaction at a deeply profound conscious or unconscious level of awareness.
How can I persuade others by stimulating their need for growth?
The Need for Contribution
In order to experience the pinnacle of fulfillment and satisfaction in life, we will need to satisfy the need for contribution.
We will naturally seek to fulfill this need by working towards a worthy cause that has benefit for others and to the wider society.
When the need for contribution has been obtained, then this naturally signifies that all the other five human needs have also been fulfilled to a high degree.
How can I persuade others by stimulating their need for contribution?
Pleasure Seeking Motivators
Pleasure is the most powerful emotional need that drives our behavior, decisions, and actions. It is an overwhelming force that motivates people to undergo temporary periods of pain for the eventual experience of pleasure that awaits them at the end of the tunnel. As such, using pleasure to persuade other people to your way of thinking is one of the most effective tools available in your arsenal.
The following presents a list of common human motivators you can stimulate throughout the persuasive process to persuade others to your ideas or ways of thinking.
As you read through this list, persistently ask yourself, how you could use this information to persuade another person to support your idea or accept your way of thinking?
A word of caution though. These are very powerful motivators that must be used for good 🙂 and not evil. :(. Please keep this in mind as you move through the persuasive process.
The following presents a list of personal pleasure-centered motivators that persuade people to make a decision or take a specific action:
People seek the feelings that are associated with perfect health. We want to be fit, healthy, look good and feel great every moment for as long as possible.
People desire personal freedom. We want to be able to do what we want, when we want, and for however long we want. And at the same time, we don’t want others to control our decisions or actions. Instead, we want to be the captains of our own ships, making our own decisions and taking actions that will support our highest values, goals, and objectives.
People want to experience a sense of personal power. They want to feel as though they are in control of events and circumstances, and they desire to experience this at a moment’s notice without repercussions.
People want certainty that they can and will obtain their most cherished goals and objectives as soon as possible. These are the goals that are aligned with their highest values and personal needs.
These people will be persuaded once you have cleared the obstacles in their path. These are the obstacles that are currently impeding their progress and the challenges that are draining the life-force from their souls and their goals.
People desire to experience financial success.
Almost everyone hopes that they will someday be rich, however, for most people, this is far beyond their current patterns of thinking and well beyond their strength of self-belief. As such, they will not be persuaded by the promise of riches. However, they will be persuaded by the promise of financial security and comfort. And this is the angle that an effective persuader must take.
Complete Creative Self-Expression
People want to be able to express themselves creatively without being ridiculed, judged or criticized. They seek to experience this at work, at home, and during play.
The more creative expression they have, the greater the joys of pleasure they experience and the more susceptible they become to persuasion.
Hope for a Better Future
People seek a better future. They hope that tomorrow will be better than today, that next week will be an improvement on last week, and that next year all their dreams will come true.
Yes, many of these hopes are unrealistic, however many others are closer to reality then they realize.
An effective persuader must stimulate the small and seemingly insignificant hopes that each person has and use these to build the bigger picture filled with positive emotions and fulfillment.
Peace of Mind
People desire to experience peace of mind throughout their days.
There is so much going on these days that most of us are running around like headless chickens. We stress, suffer from anxiety attacks and fear for what tomorrow may bring. If we are therefore given an opportunity to experience peace of mind, even for a short period of time, we will jump on that bandwagon and ride it all the way to the finish line.
Comfort and Security
People want to feel comfortable and secure within a familiar environment that supports all of their needs and wants. They don’t want to do things that raise their levels of anxiety. Instead, they just want to relax and feel secure in the knowledge that everything is under their control and will be taken care of at a moment’s notice.
The following presents a list of social pleasure-centered motivators that persuade people to make a decision or take a specific action:
Good Relationships with Family and Friends
There is probably nothing more stressful than a family in conflict. It eats at people’s souls one bite at a time until everything is eaten away. For this reason, people want to experience good, healthy, open and honest relationships with their family and friends.
A Sense of Roots
People want to feel grounded to mother earth, to their family history, social group, or cultural background. This gives them a sense of belonging and familiarity that provides a deep sense of security and comfort.
The Need to Follow Others
Most people have an undeniable need to follow those who inspire and motivate them into action. They seek to follow powerful leaders who have a presence, can be trusted and are honorable.
It’s however important to remember that some people are not followers and rather prefer to lead from the front. In order to persuade them you will need to stimulate their pride and need for accomplishment.
Cooperating with Others
People want to feel as though they are part of a group working together for a higher purpose and goal. This sense of cooperation they experience will naturally stimulate a plethora of other needs that a persuader can use to great effect.
Gaining Respect from Others
When a person enters a social setting, they want to feel confident that they will be respected by others, and that others will provide them with an opportunity to prove their true worth and value. All they ask is for an opportunity. And if they fail, they want more opportunities up until the moment they are fully integrated into the social setting and on-par with all other individuals.
People seek consistency and fairness, especially when their emotions and reputation is on the line. They want to feel secure that no matter what happens that they will be treated fairly and in accordance to past precedents.
Consistency provides them with certainty, and certainty rewards them with feelings of comfort.
The Acceptance of Others
People want to be accepted by others unconditionally no matter who they are, what they did, or what possible consequences may result from their current decisions or actions.
People seek acceptance in a number of varying ways. The following list provides a few variations that must be considered:
Meeting Other People’s Expectations
People seek to meet other people’s expectations of them in thought, word, decision, and action.
This need is so prevalent in our society today that most people tend to design their entire lives around the expectations of others. Whether they acknowledge this or not they are actually basing their decisions, behaviors, and action on what other people say and do; and this all occurs at an unconscious level of awareness.
A Persuader must stimulate this need very subtly, with an understanding that people will tend not to admit that this need ever existed.
Being Admired by Others
People seek to be admired by those around them. They want to be admired not only by their family and friends but also by passing strangers who judge them on first impressions.
The more admired we are by those around us, the greater confidence we have in ourselves, which opens up new doors to ever deeper levels of persuasion.
Other People’s Belief in Personal Ability
People want others to believe in their abilities no matter what the evidence is to the contrary.
People don’t care about evidence, all they want is for someone to believe in them, even if nothing ever eventuates from this belief. All they desire is a belief that will keep them sane while filling their heart with hope for better days. The results or outcomes don’t really matter — at least not in the moment.
An effective persuader will see this and use it to their advantage.
Gaining Praise and Recognition from Others
People seek praise and recognition from others for their accomplishments as-well-as for their near misses.
Praise builds their confidence and this raises the pleasure-gauge, which makes them even more susceptible to the psychological tactics of persuasion.
Gaining Approval from Others
Whether consciously or unconsciously, people naturally tend to seek approval from specific individuals in their lives. These individuals are like barometers that help them measure the effectiveness of their decision-making process and behaviors.
When approval isn’t received they tend to wilt away emotionally fighting through anger and self-doubt. However, when approval is given, they are like sunflowers radiating in the sunlight.
An effective persuader knows how to tap into this need and stimulates it to its full effect.
The following presents a list of emotional motivators that persuade people to make a decision or take an action that moves them towards pleasure:
People seek to be happy above all other emotions.
Happiness is a natural outcropping of love, confidence, joy, and fulfillment that brings about great satisfaction and makes the hard times easier to bear.
An effective persuader realizes the power of this emotion and stimulates it to its full extent.
People want to feel confident in themselves as a person and in their ability when directly compared with other people.
There are a great plethora of tools (many of which have been discussed above) that a persuader can use to stimulate the feelings of high self-esteem in a person.
People seek emotional security. Even if their world is spinning out of control, they want to have the full assurance that at least their emotions are in check. The moment they feel their emotions are in-check is the moment they believe that the rest of the world will eventually work itself out as well. Providing them with simple techniques and strategies will do the trick here.
Pain Avoiding Motivators
For some people, pain has a greater influence on their decision-making and actions than pleasure.
These types of people tend to make decisions and take actions that move them away from pain rather than towards pleasure.
These types of people are far more easily persuaded by using some of the following stimulants:
We are a society of fear phobics. We don’t like to be afraid and we will, therefore, do whatever it takes to avoid experiencing this powerful negative state.
Living in constant fear stresses the body, weakens the mind and leads to very undesirable consequences.
An effective persuader has the ability to stimulate this fear in short bursts while communicating with others. This is often followed by bursts of relief, joy or happiness which take the person on an emotional roller-coaster ride of peaks and valleys.
As a human species, we are very achievement-oriented. We are driven to reach goals and objectives on a daily basis, no matter how insignificant they may seem. This drive, however, has a dark side. If we do not obtain these goals we label ourselves as a failure. This often stems from the act of comparing ourselves with others.
An effective persuader understands that nobody wants to fail or be perceived as a failure by others. Hence they use this knowledge to their advantage and structure their persuasive message to stimulate this pain and move the person emotionally in the desired direction of their choosing.
People seek to fit-in and want to be accepted unconditionally by others. For this very reason, rejection is a powerful motivator that an effective persuader has in their arsenal of tools.
People fear losing something.
We become so emotionally attached to the physical possessions in our lives, or to the mental energy we give away, that the moment we lose our grasp is the moment we desperately push ourselves forward in an attempt to move away from the pain and take back some semblance of control.
An effective persuader sees a great opportunity here. They find out exactly what their victim is afraid of losing and they persuasively convince them that this is closer to reality than they ever imagined was possible. Shortly afterward a simple yet effective solution is presented that removes the pain and brings about relief and pleasure.
Criticism or Looking Foolish
People will do anything to avoid looking foolish or being criticized by others. For this very reason, people fear public speaking over death.
Given this fact, this could very well be the most powerful pain-related force that a persuader can use throughout the persuasion process.
People fear not knowing what to do, or not being able to predict what will happen next. This uncertainty keeps people within a comfort zone. Hence, when a persuader convinces others that their current decision or action will lead them down an unknown path of uncertainty, then this alone could very well be enough to persuade them to make a turn for the opposite direction.
The Fundamental Principles of Persuasion
Within this section, we will discuss a generic process for persuasion that will help you get what you want, every time. In addition, we will break down a variety of obstacles to persuasion and discusses the fundamental laws that govern the art of persuading others to your way of thinking.
Indispensable Laws of Persuasion
Within the following laws lay the foundational building blocks of persuasion and influence. Most of these laws were first presented by Robert B. Cialdini who dedicated years of his life towards researching the psychological triggers of persuasion. However, keep in mind that these laws are only complementary pieces to everything that has been discussed thus far. They are effective and comprehensive, however, if you don’t first reconfigure your mindset and develop the necessary skills of persuasion, then you will fail to fully capitalize on the power that these laws can bring forth into the persuasive process.
The following presents a quick overview of each law.
The word “victim” is used to represent the persuadee. This is intentional and is designed to awaken us to the reality of these techniques and the impact they have had on our lives from a victim’s perspective.
Law 1: Balance
Effective persuaders understand that their persuasive message must stimulate both the emotional and logical centers of their victim’s mind.
They stimulate positive and negative emotions by getting people involved in emotional stories that relate to aspects of their own life. Conversely, they stimulate logic by using statistics, examples, analogies, testimonials, graphs, charts, etc.
Law 2: Social Validation
Effective Persuaders understand the importance of building a sense “artificial popularity” around the message they are presenting to others. They show their Victim’s that what they are presenting them with is coveted by others who have similar interests, values, beliefs, attitudes, etc. They provide testimonials while presenting their product or service as being the fastest growing and best selling. Their underlying goal is to bridge the perceived psychological gap between their Victim’s Needs and the Needs of others who are just like them.
Law 3: Dissonance
Effective persuaders clearly recognize that people will seek to maintain consistency with their past decisions, values, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs under most circumstances. They use this to their advantage by initially making small requests of their victims in order to encourage affirmative responses.
These small “yes” responses and steps create dissonance.
The persuader eventually begins making ever-larger requests of their victim until their outcome has been achieved.
Under most circumstances, people will continue to agree to the persuader’s offerings, as they seek to maintain consistency with their past responses and avoid the feelings of dissonance.
Law 4: Contrast
Effective persuaders present their victim with a contrast of choices. Their goal is to convince their victim to purchase product E, which is a higher ticket item that may be slightly outside their victim’s price range. However, instead of showing them product E to begin with, they instead show them products A through D. They inform their victim that product A, B, C, and D have several undesirable options that don’t quite match their victim’s needs. They eventually work their way up to product E that meets their victim’s needs perfectly.
The law can also be used effectively by initially making a large request that you know with certainty will be negated by your victim. Follow this up immediately with your desired smaller request and measure the result. Under most circumstances people are more likely to say “yes” to the second request if it is preceded by the larger request.
Law 5: Obligation
Effective persuaders realize that by giving away free samples, extra services, inside knowledge or gifts, will create a state of psychological debt within their victim’s minds. This debt will create a void that the victim will seek to satisfy through reciprocation. This could be in the form of an agreement, with knowledge or anything else for that matter that will wipe out this psychological debt from their consciousness.
Law 6: Expectation
Effective persuaders understand that people normally behave according to the expectations set by others. They will use this to their advantage by unconsciously sending persuasive signals of expectation towards their victim, which are based on their psychological desires and wants. Moreover, they use the expectations and opinions of others (people with psychological influence over their victim’s lives) to maneuver their victim into a decisive frame-of-mind.
Law 7: Self-Esteem
Effective persuaders do all they can to build their victim’s level of self-esteem. They clearly understand that the more recognition, praise, acceptance and genuine compliments they pay their victim, that the more likely they are to persuade them to their ideas or ways of thinking.
Law 8: Involvement
Effective persuaders realize that by involving their victim’s in specific activities related to their idea, product or service will effectively open them up to the forces of persuasion.
The greater the emotional involvement the victim experiences, the more susceptible they will become to the persuasive process.
Law 9: Association
Effective persuaders use methods of association to trigger and stimulate deep reservoirs of emotion within their victim’s minds. These triggers can include pleasant music, colors, symbols, sounds, celebrities, etc.
The victim naturally associates each trigger to a specific feeling or emotion based on past experience. Therefore, when these triggers are associated and coupled together with a specific product, idea or service, then the victim begins to associate these same feelings and emotions to these stimuli as well, and the persuasive process runs it’s full course.
Law 10: Scarcity
Effective persuaders clearly understand that at times their victim’s will use every trick in the book to postpone making a decision. As a result, the persuader seeks to create urgency by limiting availability, price, time, supply, access, opportunity or by presenting them with a deadline by which they must make a decision. These tactics play on the law of scarcity, which stimulates the pain and pleasure emotional centers of the brain and forces the victim to make a decision.
Law 11: Connectivity
The final law of the persuasive process is the law of connectivity. Within this law lie sound and fundamental principles that enable you to open the channels of communication between you and your victim.
Guidelines for Persuasion
Having gone through the laws of persuasion, it is now important to spend a little time covering some general guidelines that will wrap things up and prepare your mind to begin implementing the psychology of persuasion in your interactions with others.
Triggering Persuasion through Pain and Pleasure
When it comes down to it, persuasion is all about reaching an intricate balance between the forces of pain and pleasure. We have already discussed this to a degree in a section. Here we will finalize this discussion by briefly pointing out how you can target both the pain and pleasure receptors to persuade others to your way of thinking.
Targeting the Pleasure Receptors
When seeking to stimulate a person’s pleasure receptors you must trigger their emotional brain, which is motivated by inspiration and when you talk about personal gains.
Targeting the Pain Receptors
When seeking to stimulate a person’s pain receptors you must effectively trigger their logical thinking brain, which is motivated by desperation and when you talk about potential losses.
The Generic Process of Persuasion
The persuasive process doesn’t necessarily follow a structured design. Instead, it is something that must be adjusted and adapted to the situation and psychological characteristics of the people or person you are attempting to persuade. Although, having said that, we can however loosely piece together a standard method of persuasion that is commonly used.
Keep in mind that these seven steps are only rough guidelines to help provide some structure and guidance as you venture through the psychological tactics of persuasion.
Step 1: Identify People’s Problem
Your first step in the persuasive process is to identify a problem that the person you are attempting to persuade is experiencing.
Without first identifying a problem you will simply have nothing to leverage, and therefore the persuasive process will flicker out before it even begins.
The best way to identify a problem is simply through a means of asking effective questions.
Keep in mind that at times people may not be aware of their problems on a conscious level. In such instances, your first goal will be to bring this problem into their conscious awareness and work on expanding the consequences of the problem from there.
As a final thought, make sure that the problem you have identified is more than just a minor inconvenience or at least make it appear to be more than this. Otherwise, your victim will have very little motivation to change, and will, therefore, close themselves off to your persuasive methods.
Step 2: Trigger Imagination of Life without Problem
Having established an emotional problem, your goal now is to stimulate your victim’s imagination.
Present them with an ideal picture, or a beautiful canvas of how their life will become when they never experience this problem again.
The key here is to keep asking questions. Don’t tell them how things will be, instead ask them questions that will help them reveal the answers for themselves.
Step 3: Provide Knowledge through Logic and Emotion
At this stage, your goal is to present your victim with a logical and emotional solution to the problem, which involves introducing them to the product, service or knowledge you are offering.
Your solution must emotionally, logically and effectively resolve the problem once and for all.
Step 4: Maximize Gains and Minimize Losses
Here your goal is to maximize the positive aspects of what you’re offering while at the same time minimizing any undesirable consequences that may result from this decision.
You must also subdue any resistance or doubt that may be lingering in your victim’s mind. Using a few laws of persuasion at this point may help you to gain the leverage you need to jump-start the persuasive process.
Step 5: Trigger Human Motivators
Your major objective here is to trigger a handful of key human motivators discussed in a previous section. The more thoroughly this step is undertaken the greater your persuasive powers will become.
Step 6: Stimulate Future Imaginings of Fulfillment
This stage is all about stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain.
Make your victim feel secure in the knowledge that they are making the right decision and that this will solve all their problems and lead them to a life of happiness and fulfillment. Or something along those lines…
Step 7: Provide a Powerful Guarantee
Conclude the persuasive process by providing your victim with a powerful guarantee that will give them security and peace of mind.
Our Human Capacity to Resist Persuasion
Sometimes no matter how effective we are at persuading others to our ideas or ways of thinking, every now and then we always seem to come across a handful of common obstacles that impede our progress and unfortunately drag the persuasive process beyond our control.
The following presents a list of common ways people resist persuasion. Keep in mind that these are only minor obstacles and that the solutions to these challenges can be found in this article post.
Fear of Change or the Unknown
People resist persuasion because they’re afraid of change and the unknown. This resistance can be effectively dealt with by helping the individual find certainty and moving them towards pleasure-centered motivators.
Don’t Trust or Like You
People resist persuasion because they simply don’t trust or like you. This resistance can be effectively dealt with by cultivating the qualities of honor and trust discussed at the beginning of this article post.
No Urgency or Need
People resist persuasion because they don’t have a need or there is no urgency motivating their behavior.
In such circumstances, you must go back to the drawing board and identify a deeper underlying emotional problem that will stimulate this person to take action. Otherwise, you may like to use the law of scarcity to move your victim towards a decisive decision.
Lack of Resources, Knowledge or Finances
People resist persuasion because they are lacking resources, knowledge or finances. In such instances, you must spend time educating them about your idea and product, or provide them with a different perspective or potential alternative options that will help them make a definite decision.
People resist persuasion because they don’t have any authority to make a decision. The simple solution is to speak with the person who has the authority to make this decision.
Doubtful and Skeptic
People resist persuasion because they are doubtful or skeptical about the offer you are making. Here you have not provided them with enough information, or they simply do not trust you.
There is little doubt that our ability to persuade others to our way of thinking is one of the most important and indispensable skills that we must learn and master. With it, we can climb the corporate ladder, win sales, accelerate our business forward, and convince our romantic partner and kids to our way of thinking. 😉 Conversely without it, we are mere leaves blowing haphazardly in the wind completely at the mercy of external forces people and events that control our every decision and action like puppets on a string.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 6 Scientific Principles Behind Influence and Persuasion @ Inc.
- 9 Secret Ways to Persuade & Influence @ Dumb Little Man
- Free Persuasion Articles @ Selling & Persuasion Techniques
- General Persuasion Techniques @ Changing Minds
- How to Use 10 Psychological Theories to Persuade People @ Fast Company
- Persuasion Techniques and How to Influence People @ Psyblog
- The Six Principles of Persuasion @ Psychology Today
- The Six Principles of Persuasion and How to Use them @ The Telegraph