The Power of Persuasion: What is Persuasion And How Does It Work?

Want to know what is persuasion and how does it work? Then you’re in the right place.

Persuasion is actually used by each of us every day – it is used by parents when they try to persuade their children to do something, but also by various salesmen and advertisers. In the simplest sense, persuasion is about convincing others to make their own points – but what kind of statements or techniques can be considered persuasive? Learn the difference between persuasion and manipulation, what persuasion is and what linguistic persuasion is.

Persuasion is a word that is derived from Latin – it comes from “persuasio”, which can be translated as speaking, persuading or convincing. Generally speaking, persuasion can be classified as a wide range of techniques for influencing other people, but what are the characteristics of persuasion itself?

What is persuasion?

Persuasion is intended to persuade another person or a group of people to agree with a person who is using persuasion. Basically, each of us – in various situations – uses persuasion, but not everyone really manages to convince interlocutor to his views.

Some people persuade better, others worse, which is connected with the laws that rule over persuasion.

In the case of this technique of influencing others, several different factors are important, which they are:

  • Social confirmation: it is easier to convince a person to opinions and statements which are professed by a larger group of people (one can say that then a given thought or idea seems to be “socially right”).
  • Authorities: it is easiest to persuade someone to do something, using an authority – whether it is one’s own (connected e.g. with a job, prestigious profession or high education) or someone’s authority (e.g. it is possible to convince others to be right by showing that significant people – e.g. some eminent scientists – present an analogous position).
  • Principle of reciprocity: people are more susceptible to persuasion of those people who are guilty of something, or whom they are grateful for something.
  • Principle of liking: in general, people are the most susceptible to persuasion by those who like them and those whom they are similar to.

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Types of persuasion – there are three types of it.

  • Convincing persuasion – we use it in everyday life – we use it when we simply want to convince someone that we are right.
  • An inducement persuasion (also called propaganda) is addressed to a community and its aim is to gather as many people as possible to support a given idea or view.
  • Stimulating persuasion (i.e. agitation), which is also supposed to convince individuals and groups to a given view, although its aim is also to show the expected behaviour of the recipient.

Language persuasion

We are not really aware of this, but the language of persuasion simply surrounds us. For persuasive character are words such as “must”, “should” or “must”. – their inclusion in the speech shows that something really needs to be done or a particular view should be expressed.

It is also persuasive to address the interlocutor using a plural. When the interlocutor says ‘we must’, ‘we will do’ or ‘we think’ to us, he or she has – whatever the rest of the sentence – an easy way of convincing us that we actually think like him or her or do like him or her.

You can also persuade by showing your interlocutors that an idea, a view or a sentence is the only right thing to do. Here you can mention, for example, saying that there is no other way: “there is no other way out”, “it’s the only option”.

Persuasion and manipulation

Theoretically, we could think that manipulation and persuasion are identical terms, but in practice it is completely different. Well, manipulation is considered rather a negative and unethical technique of exerting influence on others.

A person who uses manipulation expects to gain some benefits for himself, while a person who is manipulated – if manipulated – may lose something from it.

Persuasion is distinguished from manipulation by the fact that the person who uses it does not do so in order to gain any benefits at the expense of harming another person.

However, there are also similarities between the two techniques of influencing, especially that similar psychological mechanisms can be used in the case of persuasion and manipulation (such as the principles of reciprocity and preference mentioned earlier).

Persuasion on a daily basis

Persuasion is unlikely to be escaped. It is used by parents when they try to convince a child to do something.

They can persuade the child, for example, that he has to eat enough (“eat, or else you will not grow up”). – here parents can convince the toddler that food is the only way to grow), they can also convince their child to stay close to their parents (e.g. “we must stick together, because in another situation you are in danger”).

Persuasion is used at home, but also at school – teachers persuade children, who are reluctant to learn, that learning is essential for them (e.g. “children should learn, because it is the only chance to achieve success in the future”).

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Persuasion in advertising, commerce and business

Persuasion, which is not surprising, is often used by salespeople. It is very easy to come across advertisements for various products, which are supposed to convince you that the given thing is the best – we can mention here, for example, advertisements for cleaning agents, which “should be in every home” or “are the only so effective preparations”.

Traders make various attempts at persuasion – they can persuade customers to buy their products by using the principle of reciprocity. Product tastings in hypermarkets have such an expected goal – a customer who has received something for free, guided by the principle of reciprocity, is definitely more willing to reach for a product whose sample he has received free of charge.

It is also persuasive to use different authorities in advertising – when a person known or considered to be an authority in his field convinces to buy a product, the customer is much more willing to agree that the product is really valuable.

Persuasion, which has been stressed many times before, is one of the techniques of influencing – but should we be afraid of it? Not necessarily. Just as manipulation can harm us most, so doing harm to us is definitely not the aim of persuasion.

Common sense – particularly in the case of persuasive advertising or other commercial activities – is certainly capable of preventing the possible, though generally unprecedented, negative effects of succumbing to someone’s persuasion.

Thank you for reading this article about what is persuasion and I really hope that you take action my advice. I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here