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Defining Persuasion:

Process aimed at changing a person’s or a group’s attitude or behavior toward some idea, object, event or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them.

Persuasion is a form of influence. It is the way to get people to agree with an idea, attitude, or action by rational and emotional means. It is a problem-solving strategy and relies on “appeals” rather than force.

Key elements of Persuasion:

According to Harvard Business Review, the key elements of Persuasion are as follows:

  1. Credibility. The more trust you earn and the more expertise you accumulate, the more credible you and your ideas become.
  2. An understanding of the audience. This includes identifying decision makers, key stakeholders, and influencers; analyzing your audience’s likely level of receptivity; and determining how the people you aim to persuade will make the decisions you hope to influence.
  3. A solid argument that is logical, consistent, and fact-based. Your argument should favorably address the interests of those you hope to persuade, eliminate or neutralize competing alternatives, and recognize the politics of the situation. Ideally, your argument should also be endorsed by objective and authoritative third parties.
  4. Effective communication. You should communicate your position clearly and succinctly in a way that demonstrates your credibility and takes into account your audience and their specific needs.

Several methods of persuasion include:

  1. Evidence: Evidence is something that is used to support an argument. It gives examples of why something is true.
  2. Logic: Logic is the philosophical study of reasoning. Logic helps people decide whether something is true or false. A popular example of a syllogism given by Aristotle:
  • All men are mortal
  • Socrates is a man
  • Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
  1. Rhetoric: Rhetoric is the art of convincing and persuading people by language through public speaking or writing.
  2. Scientific method: A scientist gathers empirical and measurable evidence and uses sound reasoning. New knowledge often needs adjusting, or fitting into, previous knowledge.
  3. Advertising: Advertisers influence our emotions by techniques that include stereotyping and targeting the audience according to who we are. Emotions are influenced by things such as this our occupation, beliefs, personality, self-esteem, lifestyle, relationships, friends, how we look and what we wear. Advertisers use methods that attract attention.
  4. Faith: Faith or religion is a set of belief system held by a person or group of persons. Faith influences our behavior and attitudes. People can be persuaded to act in a particular manner according to the faith they follow.
  5. Propaganda: Propaganda is a form of communication to distribute information. It is always biased. The information is designed to make people feel a certain way or to believe a certain thing. The information is often political. It is hard to tell whether the information is true or false. Very often, the information is confusing and unfair.
  6. Culture and tradition: People have been following certain traditions for a long period of time. It is easy to convince them as per their culture and tradition.

Note: It is more important to give wings to your imagination than to mug up these theories. Think on how you can apply the principles in practical conditions.

Note down some examples where civil servants have successfully persuaded people to conform with the government’s rules and policies.

Six principles of persuasion given by Robert Cialdini:

In his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, psychologist Robert Cialdini describes six principles of persuasion. They are as follows:

  1. Reciprocity

Do something for a person with no conditions or expectation of a return favor, and they are more likely to do something for you.

Reciprocity is not a quid-pro-quo exchange, but rather a situation where one person gives something or provides a favor to another person with no requirement in return.

  1. Commitment/Consistency

People unconsciously want to behave in a manner that is consistent with past behavior.

Experiments have shown that if a person performs even a trivial favor for someone, she is far more likely to perform a bigger one later.

  1. Social Proof

People pay attention to what other people are doing, both consciously and unconsciously. They will choose the crowded restaurant over the nearly empty one, even though they’ll be served more slowly. That’s why bloggers trumpet their popularity when they ask you to subscribe. It is to provide social proof that they are delivering information of great value.

  1. Authority

People defer to those in authority — officials, professors, doctors, and experts in a field.

Consciously, they may follow the direction of an authority figure. At a non-conscious level, they will tend to weight the opinion of an authority more highly than that of others.

Authority seems a bit like social proof, but it’s based not on numbers but on perceived expertise, status, or power.

  1. Liking

People we like more easily persuade us. According to Cialdini, a key element of liking is having things in common with each other.

  1. Scarcity

The fewer there are of something, the more people like and want them. Usually, they are quite unaware of their preference for scarcity. Just like SUPER 50 batch at BrainyIAS

Aristotle on “Modes of Persuasion”: Ethos. Pathos and Logos

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds:

Ethos: First, Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech was so spoken as to make us think him credible.

Pathos: Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions.

Logos: Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth (Logic) or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.