The Art of Persuasion

20 05 2011

“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her, once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game”.

Interaction between people is happening every day at work and of course in our private life.

James Borg has written the book: Persuasion and the art of influencing people. This book is a nice piece of work. When the author is talking about persuasion, his intentions are for use in good purposes.

Borg illustrates persuasion skills with good magicians who are masters in loosely called people skills. Why ? They had to ‘persuade’ their audience. First the audience’s attention, second they would use the ‘right’ words, listen carefully to any volunteers and make them remember the things they wanted them to remember. The magician would work out the type of person they were dealing with, and observe the body language and get the trust from the audience. All this is designed to do one thing: persuade the audience. This is a good demonstration of people skills in action.

In organizations you need to understand people and they need to understand you and your point of view. Equally, you need to understand their point of view.

“Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking”.

Da Vinci gives us a reminder about the human race, and the importance of giving your full attention when you are dealing with people.

Professor Richard Wiseman say: “We like people who help us, and we help people we like. However, in terms of favours, it is surprising how little it takes for us to like a person, and how much we give on the basis of so little. It seems that if you want to help yourself, you should help others first”. From his book:” 59 seconds, think a little, change a lot”.

When Borg refers to Aristotle, he points out that, to be persuasive, Aristotle’s spoke of three different types of proof that were used by persuasive speakers: Ethos ( ethical – character and reputation ), Pathos ( emotional appeal ) and Logos ( logical ).

A blending of all three in order to achieve the goal of moving people from A to B, will be the best persuasive messages. When persuasive speakers blend all of the three types to achieve the goal, we need to take a closer look into what ethos, pathos and logos tells us.

Ethos, as mentioned above, relates to the speakers character through his or her communication. Here we are talking about the trustworthiness the speaker has in the eyes of the audience.

Pathos, relates to emotional appeal, how the emotions was felt by the audience. As Aristotle put it, “Persuasion may come through the hearers when the speech stirs their emotions”.

The choice of words used by the speaker refers to Logos and gives the audience your point of view.

This is interesting, and next time you are listening to a presentation, you can observe other people and how they use the three elements.

When communicating with people, we also need to know we are dealing with various types. Jung is well-known for his major contribution by the concept of introversion and extraversion. Even if these attitudes are opposites, each person possesses both according to Jung. It depends on which one of them are the most dominant. To avoid misunderstandings because of different personality types, show your interest into a person’s style and their ways of thinking.

When Borg is talking about empathy he provides this definition: ” Empathy is the ability to identify and, understand the other person’s feelings, ideas and situation”. “It’s listening with your heart as well as your head”.

Being able to read emotions in others, and another person’s perspective is important. However, to develop empathy you need sincerity.

Empathy plus sincerity leads to good persuasion.

People who care about other people’s problems or concerns be it a friend, colleague leads to elevating yourself to a higher level. Which makes the conversations easier, and also makes the other person more receptive to your questions and opens up to tell you more. In return it helps you steer a discussion in your direction.

If you can listen emphatically to your colleagues, you are giving them signals that you are genuinely interested in what they are trying to tell you. Being a good listener is a challenge for most of us, some are good and others are poor listeners. Without any doubt, listening skills are of a huge importance if you want to build good relations. When the writer is talking about the poor listeners, they are often unaware of this major failing which can lose them friends, colleagues and business clients. ” Since all communication between individuals essentially moves the relationship either forwards or backwards, or keeps it the same, the way you listen and respond to other people is paramount in promoting the relationship”.

“His thoughts were slow, his words were few, and never made to glisten, but he was a joy wherever he went you should have heard him listen”. Very nice rhyme from an unknown writer.

Listening, as Borg points out, doesn’t mean that you are not saying anything while the other person is talking. “It’s deriving meaning from what’s said. And that’s what people find difficult”.

Inger Lise E. Greger/Master of Science in Change Management



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