‘At the end of reasons comes persuasion’ – Ludwig Wittgenstein
We’re all born with curiosity and human curiosity is what had led to great discoveries and inventions. One of the first things we learn once we learn how to talk fluently is how to consistently talk to people about themselves. It is a well-established fact that when we get people to open up about themselves, it creates trust and a much greater openness to what we have to say.
So, where does persuasion come into the picture? And what does it mean?
Persuasion is the process of presenting an idea that does have the ability to change and provide
motivation towards doing it. It is important to get the other person’s attention, ensure the message is processed in the way it is intended to be; and that it appeals to them in terms of their goals, motivations, and interests! Human curiosity enhances the way people approach ideas they’re not entirely comfortable with.
There are two ways in which we process a message – spontaneously and thoughtfully.
Spontaneous Processing is quick, direct, and often involves immediate action on the message;
Thoughtful Processing is more controlled and involves a careful cognitive detailing of the meaning of the message.
In Spontaneous Message Processing, we often focus on what is enjoyable, attractive, or even has a feel-good effect, rather than on the message itself! We tend to like things more when we are in a good mood and persuasion is particularly effective when people are happy!
On the other hand, Thoughtful Message Processing has the ability to change attitudes and behavior on a long-term basis. It occurs when we think carefully about how the message resonates with our own beliefs and values. It involves a more meticulous consideration of the validity of the persuasion attempt. The greatest upside of thoughtful processing of a message is that it bolsters strong attitudes, which can be resistant to counter-persuasion.
The route that we need to take to deliver a message that is persuasive needs to be chosen on the
desired final outcome. That is to understand whether we want our audience to feel good and act in the moment; or whether we need them to make deliberate choices that can change deep-seated
attitudes and behavior.
Can you persuade people using influence?
According to Robert Cialdini, the author of ‘Influence’, humans are hardwired toward reciprocity. It is compelling for us to want to do something for others when they have done something for us! It is an inherent part of our evolutionary DNA to help each other out to be able to survive as a species. This idea can be leveraged by providing small gestures of consideration towards others, where they may be compelled to return the favor. We in turn can build our circle of influence by adding value to people in many ways, big or small.
The other factors that create influence and do have the ability to persuade people are by way of
consistency and persistence. When we deliver consistently in a way that matches people’s
expectations or even exceeds them, there is trust that is created in our abilities. People like to work with those who are reliable.
Flexibility in Approach
Being flexible in our approach and behavior also makes people favorable towards us. The greater our repertoire of behaviors, the more power of persuasion we can possess. We should have the ability to infuse energy in people with our behaviors to be able to motivate and invigorate them. It could be through simple eye contact, energetic verbal responses, or even active listening.
Simplicity in communication is also at the heart of the art of persuasion. We must be able to explain our concept or point of view to a young child, who can then communicate it effectively to an adult. If we believe in what we do, we will be able to persuade others to do what is good for them as well. The human brain is designed to respond to others’ opinions if said confidently, when making decisions. Remember, influence is our inner ability to lift people up to our perspective, and as author Laurie Buchanan said, “Never underestimate the influence you have on others”.