Three Essential Steps to Being More Convincing



Unless you’re dead, which would make your reading this much more interesting, there is likely something you want, and often you have to convince someone to give it to you or help you get it. Social transactions happen all the time. The mechanics behind these agreements are the same, from asking a friend for a simple favour to brokering international peace treaties.

Understand that these three steps are not the only prerequisites to being more persuasive, nor are they easy to take. I will admit that these are probably the three more challenging approaches to persuasion.

  • Knowing how people think

How people think is more important than what they think. Two people can be offered the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions. Similarly, two people can face the same problem and attempt to resolve it in different, often contradictory ways. These differences in conclusions and approaches to life show you how people think about themselves and their environment. As I said before, it is not easy to understand how people think – their thinking is affected by past life experiences and current circumstances. However, we tend to reveal how we feel subconsciously through our language.

Pay attention to the words people use for their relationship to events, ideas, and other people. For example: if your friend says that he “feels” that something is wrong or that she feels that something should be a particular way, they are likely thinking emotionally. Physical gestures, or what people love to call body language, is critical to figuring out a person’s thinking baseline. If your interlocutor touches their chest or abdomen when talking about a pertinent issue, it may imply that they have strong feelings about that issue.

DISCLAIMER: these cues of emotion and their meaning can change from person to person. Even the words we use to describe how something affects us depend on personal and historical context. One word or one gesture is not enough to determine a baseline – clusters of cues are always necessary.

How a person structures statements or questions can also reveal their thinking patterns. Someone asking “How does persuasion work?” is thinking about the mechanisms behind the process, while someone asking “why does persuasion work on me?” might be worried about being vulnerable to external influences.

Understanding how someone thinks is not easy, but if you pay attention to their behaviour and use yours to elicit the proper reactions, you can get a good idea of how they arrive at conclusions.

It is a good exercise in developing emotional intelligence to practise asking good questions that reflect how you think. Pay close attention to the feedback you receive from others.


  • Understanding that logic is subjective

While the definition of logic presents some of us with the notions of proper reasoning and straight-thinking, it is bound by the context surrounding the person entertaining it. Remember that two people can arrive at different results after observing the same evidence or deal with the same problem differently. Logic and reasoning are dependent on the data available to the individual and their interpretation of it. This last year has seen a resurgence in conspiracy theories and what I call denialism. The only logical conclusion based on sensory information is that the earth is flat to the most committed of the so-called Truthers.

Because it is subjective, logic is affected by emotion more than anything else. Critical thinking is not natural to humans. Critical thinking starts with an attitudinal shift from wanting things to be true to wanting to know the truth despite how we feel about it.

  • Using the way people think about life and how they approach logic to formulate your approach to persuasion


I will leave this last part for you to investigate and practise.

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