The Art and Science of Persuasion


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by Jayaram V

People have their own beliefs and values which they form over time. Hence, it is difficult to change their thinking and make them agree with you.  However, with some effort you can persuade them to say yes or see your point of view, at least partially.

Research in human behavior and social psychology proves that in specific circumstances people change their opinions and responses, even if they seem to contradict their inner conditioning and established patterns of behavior. By knowing it, you can improve your effectiveness and likability.

The following suggestions are based on actual research done in this field. You can use them in your real life as well as your business to improve your persuasive skills and your chances of influencing people and changing their minds.

1. Let them know how your ideas worked in the past and how people found them useful or effective in similar circumstances. Research shows that people tend to follow other people's behavior especially if they are more like them. We are conditioned to accept majority opinion and follow what others find useful, convenient, profitable and beneficial. This herd mentality is very noticeable in what people do, the products they purchase, the clothes they wear, the movies they watch and the trends they follow.

2. Do not offer too many choices or options, when you are trying to resolve a problem. Research shows that when more options are offered to people, it tends to have a damaging effect upon them, as it subjects them to confusion and discourages them from making timely and effective decisions. With too many choices people feel overwhelmed, suffer from anxiety, uncertainty and frustration and withhold their decision.

3. Be careful about what you offer for free. Offering free products and services as part of a marketing strategy is a normal practice. However, research proves that offering free gifts to push your ideas or promote your products may not be a good idea if it is done carelessly without letting the customers know the value they are getting for free. Studies in this regard show that when free gifts are offered, their value declines in the minds of the people as they may think that since it has been offered for free it must be cheap or useless. Therefore, if you want to give away a product or service for free, make sure that they know its value or price in clear terms.

4. Offer the more expensive or difficult option first. If you want to push an idea, product or service, offer a more expensive or difficult one first and present the one you want to push as the alternative. Research shows that an option looks more attractive and economical, even if it is expensive, when it is justexposed with a more expensive or difficult one and people tend to feel comfortable choosing the less expensive one as a compromise even if it is somewhat overpriced.

5. Avoid invoking fear and anxiety. Do not try to use fear to persuade people unless the threat is real. If at all you have to speak about the threats and risks involved and invoke fear as part of your presentation, give them a solution to deal with it or feel less threatened. Research proves that people block out fear producing messages if they have not been provided with effective remedial measures or specific plans to deal with them. In other words, if you want to warn others about some imminent threat or danger in doing or not doing something, you must combine your message with a specific action plan to deal with it. Otherwise, your message will be ignored or repudiated as people may block out the message altogether or act as if it may not happen.

6. Cultivate a helping attitude. By helping others you generate immense goodwill and create favorable impressions in their minds about your or your business. Being generous and helpful by going the extra mile brings you rich rewards in the long run. People tend to reciprocate the good done to them. It rarely goes unnoticed. By helping people especially those who make a difference to you or your business, you increase your zone of influence and create more favorable opinions about yourself and your business in their minds.

In the present day world, persuasive skills are very important since you have to deal with many people and seek their help and cooperation in various aspects of your life. If you are in business or leadership positions, you need these skills even more. We know that we cannot influence everyone we meet in our lives or change their opinions. However, with effort and following suggestions such as the above, we can make our way through the maze of human relationships and interactions.

Source: Reproduced partially from the book Think Success by Jayaram V. You may purchase this book from our online store

Suggestions for Further Reading

About Think Success: In 44 well written articles presented in this books, you are introduced to a treasure trove of transformational wisdom. By following the suggestions given in this book, you can achieve success and happiness and live. It is written by Jayaram V, author of several books and hundreds of essays about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Spirituality and Self-help. This book is currently available at our Online Store (for residents of USA, Canada, UK and some other countries only).

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