Can you be persuaded?

Persuasion is defined as influencing a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivation, and behavior and plays an essential role in personal relationships. When two people get together, they will inevitably try to persuade one another on political, health, parenting, or economic issues. One might even use persuasion to get another to behave in a certain manner. With the art of persuasion, there are no winners or losers. Convincing others to do what you want them to do is not utilizing force, threats, or coercion. Persuasion is the opposite of mandates. If the argument is compelling, and the one attempting to persuade has expertise in the area of influence, one could be convinced to change their mind and do something the persuader is encouraging them to do.

How is it that some intuitively know how to persuade or influence others? What are the essential elements involved in the art of persuasion? Primarily, one must spend time with those we are trying to persuade. Time promotes trust. Respecting the individual who is attempting to influence us is imperative. No one will be influenced without first respecting the would-be persuader. An influencer must be likable and accommodating. People are not convinced by people they dislike  or mistrust. Influencers must be kind, gentle, not angry, argumentative, or manipulative.  

Additionally, those who are trying to influence others must have a positive reputation in the public square. A positive reputation includes honesty, integrity, and essential character traits. They must be believable and highly informed in the subject of their persuasion efforts. The art of persuasion includes a high degree of emotional intelligence, listening skills and knowing what is important to the one they are attempting to influence. 

Once convinced to do something different, the persuader will be more successful in their efforts if they get a verbal commitment from those they are attempting to influence.  A verbal commitment is a public declaration to act.  According to studies, when individuals make a verbal commitment or affirmation, they are more likely to feel obligated to follow through on their commitments. To cement the verbal commitment, the persuader should, according to Psychology Today, invoke the psychological principle of reciprocity allowing themselves to be persuaded to do something different as well. 

Finally, an artful persuader allows those they are trying to influence maintain their power, rights, and dignity, increasing the element of controlling their own decisions and life. Maintaining individual choice is an essential element of persuasion. Those who feel like they are losing power, control and choices over their lives resist change and dig their heals in to not be persuaded. A leader who desires to influence social change needs to be mindful of these elements of persuasion and not become a tyrant by mandating the change that they are seeking.

The choice is clear, influencing behavior is more effective based on the art of persuasion rather than on mandates and rules. Let’s be committed to learning the skills it takes to be an influencer, leader, and persuader for the public good and social change. joneen@myrelationshipcenter.org