Convincing People to Act through Persuasive Communication

Sharmila Gautama, Founder of EnglishCoach Services

Good examples of persuasive communication are the advertisements we see every day and the editorials that we read. When the Dove soap advertisement came out, I remember they didn’t have models telling us how moisturized their skin felt after using Dove. They had women from different households speaking to us. It was relatable and an instant connection was formed. We too wanted to have the soap that made these women fall in love with their skin.

When we try to persuade a client or our colleagues, we need to keep in mind the fact that people choose based on their values and culture. Dove became a popular household soap not only because of the advertisement but also because the soap looked international in its packaging. We love that, don’t we?

Similarly, speaking or writing persuasively doesn’t just mean a good argument. Have you touched a chord? Does the person feel the choice he is making sits well with his values? As a dog lover and caretaker of dogs in my locality, I find that most people in my neighbourhood who want to connect with me start the conversation with a doggie story. It may be about a dog they had, or how they too love dogs or a remark about the dogs on the street that they like or dislike! It sure gets a response from me because it fits into my values. If you want to persuade someone, look at what they hold close to their heart and use the same language.

Robert Cialdini speaks about the six principles of persuasion. One that I like the most is ‘likeability’. You are more likely to listen and do something if you like the person. Sometimes, you do things even if it doesn’t appeal to you. Most of us have been in that situation where we have done favours for those we like even if it meant pushing ourselves a bit. According to Cialdini, three factors influence the principle of liking. We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals. Can you try to make someone like you professionally? Yes, it’s all about how you manage your interpersonal relationships at work. See how all of this is interconnected?

One of the most influential speeches of modern times is Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have a Dream. The beauty of the speech lies in the imagery, metaphor, rhetoric and passion that moves one every time you listen to it. While Martin Luther’s speech is a passionate cry for justice, Mr. Jaishankar, Foreign Minister of India, uses logic and facts to influence. He asserts himself with clarity and conciseness. His sentences are short, clipped and he states facts in a matter-of-fact way. To quote Mr. Jaishankar, “India has made a decision on the S-400 and we have discussed that with the U.S. government. I am reasonably convinced of the powers of my persuasion”. His style coupled with authority is a great example of influence in international politics.

How do you influence people? Use some of these examples to build your style.

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