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Learn How to Persuade Anyone

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

You’ve made the most decadent chocolate cake in the world. At three tiers tall, it rivals the most beautiful of wedding cakes.

And your secret ingredient? Pureed vegetables.

Does chocolate cake get any better than that?! Gorgeous, richly delicious, and healthy to boot.

You can’t wait to serve it up to all the children at your kid’s birthday party! They’ll dig the look and flavor; you’ll delight in their extra helpings of veggies (because the pizza they picked at doesn’t count).

​To get them to dig in, do you:

A.    Tell them there are vegetables in it, extoll its health benefits for the next 20 minutes, and end with telling them they’ll thank you in 30 years while they stare blankly at you?
​B.     Show them the great tower of chocolaty goodness, light up the birthday candles, start the rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday,’ and ask who’s ready for yummy cake?

If you chose ‘B,’ you understand the importance of packaging and presentation. There’s a way to champion people to your cause and a way not to.

​Persuasion is an important life skill–from gaining financial buy-in from investors as an entrepreneur to getting a classroom full of kids on board with class rules as a teacher. We’ll give you some psychology-backed steps to help you persuade with more ease…because not every “sell" will be as easy as cake.


Caution: Use Your Power for Good

People shy away from learning the art of persuasion. Why? It could be because they’ve been manipulated in past relationships or by pushy salespeople.

Let’s be clear: you will learn powerful techniques here. We can’t police you, but we hope you use your newfound power for good.

Manipulation is a type of persuasion in which you’re the only winner. Not only is that poor behavior, it’s also a path to future failure. You may fool people once, but it’ll come back to bite you.

Now that you’ve been warned and know the difference between manipulation and all other types of persuasion, let’s look at building persuasive techniques like building that (veggie) cake tower.

​First, let’s discuss the tools and ingredients.


Persuasion Ingredients:


You can’t get a message across without some form of communication. Your tools are verbal language, nonverbal cues, and written words.

​Your audience is communicating with you, too. Look for their nonverbal cues and listen to their concerns to create impactful messages that effectively persuade them.



You must understand your audience–what motivates them and their viewpoints. You’ll do that through active listening.

When you listen well, you show your audience that you respect them. You come across as patient and level-headed. (That’ll be important for a later ingredient.)

​Your audience will feel valued and will be more open to your suggestions. Good listening establishes mutual trust and allows you to prepare a more persuasive message.


Emotional Intelligence

Curate appropriate persuasion tactics and responses to your listeners. Tune into their tone of voice, body language, and overall mood to do this more effectively.


Reasoning and Logic

Help listeners understand why they should adopt your idea. Use facts, data, evidence, charts, and graphs to validate your ideas.



Establish yourself as a credible authority. That level-headedness we spoke of in the tools/ingredients list (Listening) comes into play here.

In addition, your past successes and accomplishments make you more credible. So does being a good friend to those you’re trying to persuade.

​Time to put it all together.


Persuasion Instructions:

Create or Buy Credibility

You need 1. a relationship with your audience and 2. established expertise.

Your listeners must trust you. They should see you as a person of integrity with a history of sound judgment. You need a proven track record of good decisions and performance. You must demonstrate honesty and stability. You should have others’ interests at heart, not just your own. You must show that you are well-informed on your subject matter.

Need stronger relationships with your listeners? Meet with key individuals you’re trying to persuade. Your mission is to build a good rapport with some or all of your listeners and fully understand their views. In place of building rapport (when you don’t have enough time), consider pulling in co-workers or influencers who have the established rapport and are on board with your plan.

​Need more expertise? Consider formal or informal education (i.e., college courses or on-the-job training). In lieu of educating yourself, hire a consultant on the matter (this is the “buy” it part). Use external data from trials and research to back up your argument.


Find Common Ground

Use your communication and listening skills to describe your position in terms that highlight the advantages for your listeners. You must understand their desires and fears, not just assume you know them.

​This is where you accentuate the positive aspects of your proposition. You’ll use your active listening skills to find the parts of your proposal you agree on. Come to the table ready to collaborate–you might need to give a little to get buy-in.


Compile and Present Your Evidence

Bring the facts. Use numerical data, anecdotal stories, and examples.


Appeal to Their Emotions

Presenting logical facts and evidence isn’t enough. Make your audience care on an emotional level.

Use metaphors and analogies. For example, look at what Budweiser did with their ads featuring Clydesdale horses and parts of Americana in the early 2000s or Progressive’s comical insurance commercials about not turning into your parents.

​Adjust your tone to fit your audience, showing the right amount of passion (which can be more difficult than it sounds). Persuasive pieces eliciting hopeful emotions are typically better received than doom and gloom (for now).


Achieve Your Goals

You can achieve more of your goals when you know how to inspire groups of people to help you. This inspiration is called persuasion.

We all use persuasion daily, from the time we’re little kids. However, most of us never put much thought into effectively persuading others.

Numerous free and low-cost educational materials can teach you more about effective persuasion. Listen to podcasts or take courses on the subject to keep the information fresh in your mind.

Read self-help material. Check out books by Elsie Lincoln Benedict. This great persuasive orator and author managed to gain male support for the suffragist movement in the early 1900s. We can all learn a thing or two from her.

​In addition to her writings, read other books about success to develop your leadership skills (which is what persuasion is). Consider joining an online book club about success to help you better pace yourself and absorb what you learn.


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