Six Core Secrets Of Persuasion

    April 8, 2003

Have you ever had the feeling you just don’t have what it takes to influence anyone you come in contact with? I know I once felt that way until I started studying persuasion and influence. The truth is, we all have persuasion power, and it builds on core mechanisms of how our minds work. This article has some key aspects of influence that anyone can access immediately.

Secret #1: Rapport: The key to all influence and persuasion!

What does it mean to have rapport? Simply put, it is a relationship, especially one of mutual trust or emotional affinity. There are entire courses on developing rapport, but it but can in it’s simplest form be as simple as listening to what the other person is saying. And you don’t need to agree with what is being said, but just be a good listener. When you are in rapport it is almost as if something magical happens. Because when others feel listened to, and heard. Then that person will develop a comfortable feeling of ‘This person thinks like I do, I can relax.’

A bond is formed, and people are motivated to follow the influence of someone with whom they have bonded. Rapport is one of the most important keys to influence, and this is why it is a foundation of the Ultimate Persuasion series and also of Conversational Jujitsu.

Secret #2: You can persuade people if they think you have reward power

Once this is pointed out is seems obvious. Fact is that people can be persuaded to do something if they feel that they will receive a reward. This even works with the most stubborn of children! Many people work at jobs they dislike simply because reward power is motivating them. Reward power is the fastest way to persuade. The problem with it is that it is the most expensive method of persuasion. There is also a diminishing return. Every time you reward someone the value of that reward decreases. You must either up the amount, or eventually the person will not be motivated to do as you request.

Since the purpose of persuasion is to develop skills to influence people without a high over head, let us consider the next core secret

Secret #3: You can persuade people if they think you have the power to punish

This of course is the opposite of reward, but it has a power all it’s own. In fact it’s power stems from a basic and primal instinct of fear. Our fears are very powerful motivators, even the most subtle of them. If an employee is of the belief they must work overtime or lose their job, it will be fear that persuades them to put in the extra work. Children are often persuaded to behave a certain way or face being grounded.

Punish power and fear are very powerful persuasion tools. Due to the negative aspects of fear it is not a good motivator. As your persuasion skills develop, punish power should rarely if ever be utilized. But it is good to understand it so you can recognize when it is being applied to you.

Secret #4: Your influence is even stronger if you combine reward and punish together.

Parents are some of the most skilled at using this effective combination for persuading the family. “If you eat your spinach, you can have some pie.” “If you don’t do your homework, you can’t go outside and play.” In the adult world this is sometimes referred to as the carrot & stick approach. Most people will use one or the other method by itself, but their true power comes from the understanding of using them together. This is the ultimate in persuasion.

I have actually used this with my martial arts. When confronted in a situation that it would be wrong for me to injure the other party (drunks at a party), I give them the subtle implication of punishment (they will get hurt should they act aggressively) with the reward of letting them save face. I will look them in their eye with a steel gaze that implies a very bad outcome for them as I say loud enough for everyone to hear, “I do not wish to get hurt, you will probably win.” This way they can exit gracefully and brag about the fight that didn’t happen. I have never had them choose to fight.

Secret #5: Perceived expertise allows you to persuade people.

If you can convince someone you are an expert on a topic, you can persuade them with respect to that topic. Doctors, Lawyers, and Politicians project expertise power. Doctors and Lawyers go as far as to use a specialized language that most of us do not understand. This reinforces the perception of them having expertise, and thus we tend to be influenced by them.

This power among doctors can be so strong a mis-diagnosis will cause a person to become sick simply because they believe the expertise of the doctor. There is a whole branch of hypnotherapy dedicated to healing those who have had this experience. That is how powerful expertise power can influence a person. If you want to know more, read Answer Cancer by Steven Parkhill.

Secret #6: When a person has limited options, they can be persuaded.

This can be thought of as situation power. If the other person realizes they just don’t have any options, and that they will lose no matter what they choose. They become the one who is being persuaded by default. Employers often have situation power over people. This is one that we can all relate to I am sure.

However there are times when an individual has situation power over a large organization. My father once got an expensive power tool for a gift. When he opened the box, one of the clasps on the case was broken. The saw was fine, but he wanted the case for storage so he took it back. The store could have said no, since the saw was working, but they knew he did a lot of business there and it was in the best interest of the relationship to exchange it with no fuss. So my father had situation power over the giant national corporate store.

When you have situational power, it is a bad idea to rub it in. Instead by being polite, people will feel better about what you ask them to do for you.

Conclusion: I hope that by simply reading these secrets of persuasion, you are already thinking about all the times in your life when one of these has been used in a situation in which you were involved. Now you can recognize when these are being used on you, and even better you have added new persuasion skills to your success skill.

Craig Eubanks is an Author, Trainer, and Communication Skills Specialist and is one of the Founders of Act Now International LLC. Sign up for the FREE Success Skills Digest newsletter at the Act Now website.