Persuasion Tip #6: All you need to Know

I just recently finished reading Dale Carnegie’s book “How to win friends and influence people”. I know, the titel is terrible. I almost felt ashamed and embarassed reading it, and the title alone may be one of the reasons I have never read this book (and my pride). However, it is a terrific book!

I read the updated version, because the poriginal was written way back in about 1920. Apparently the new version has been updated with more current examples but not current or wordly enough in my mind (There are an awful lot of Rockefeller, Lincoln, and other american presidents examples).

However, I nearly read the book cover to cover! It is full of interesting little stories that demonstrate each of the principles in a simple, commonsense way. Some of these principles go against some of my basic beliefs, but I can see why and how they may have affected my relations in the past and I reckon Carnegie is very right in what he has said and myself very wrong (refer principle 3 in how to win people to your way of thinking).

The principles are as follows – I hope with some deep inflection they help you be a better person.

How to handle people

1. Don’t criticise, condemn or complain

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

How to make people like you

1. Become genuinely interested in other people

2. Smile

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

5. Talk in terms of the other persons interests.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

How to win people to your way of thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”

3. If your wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

4. Begin in a friendly way

5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

10. Appeal to the nobler motives.

11. Dramatize your ideas.

12. Throw down a challenge.

How to be a leader

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly

3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person

4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

5. Let the other person save face

6. Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

7. Give the person a fine reputation to live up to.

8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Persuasion tip #5: Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Back to Aristotle via the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). It makes sense that if this guy spent his time debating his theories in public and many of those theories went on to be very popular, that he knew something about being persuasive.

Apparently Aristotle identified three main streams of persuasive speech or rhetoric – Ethos, Logos and Pathos.

Ethos is an appeal to the audience on the character of the speaker. Something akin to the appeal to authority we discussed in persuasion tip #4. An example would be the RPI about us page which states that they have been around for 2 centuries  providing education of “undisputed intellectual rigor”. Something tells me that this would have limited effect unless the audience already has some knowledge of the speakers credibility. This post appeals to the authority of Aristotle in order to persuade you that these points are actually facts and are helpful and useful!

Logos is an appeal based on logic or reason. Not something we see much of these days! The more typical public arguments are dressed up as logic or reason but are far from it. For example, Andrew Forrester (major shareholder and creator of Fortescue Metals) has been aggressively lobbying against the mining tax proposed by the labour government on the grounds it will cripple the mining industry. Apparent logic behind his argument is that the increased tax burden will cause a huge dent in private investment. Yet an AFR article has found Forrester hasn’t paid a red cent in corporate tax in the last 16 years.

Pathos is an appeal to emotions and is consistent with Persuasion tip #3 to empathise with your audience. However, appealing to emotion can run much deeper than just getting the audience to like you, it could appeal to your sense of desire, your sense of insecurity or fear, your sense of sympathy and any other emotional triggers you can think of. For example, George Bush II, John Howard and Tony Blair appealed to the their respective citizens fear of weapons of mass destruction and hatred of the Taliban after September 11 in order to obtain approval for the war on Iraq.

Persuasion Tip #3 & #4

Still plundering the Wikihow site for tips, these two pretty much exhausts the most useful tips:

Persuasion tip #3
Empathise and relate to your audience. By making your audience feel like you understand them and are concerned about them they are more likely to listen and possibly trust what you say. Its hard not to like someone who is concerned about you. Follow this up be explaining what you want to achieve in terms they can relate to so they feel like they will achieving something by helping you.

Persuasuion tip #4
Wikihow refers to “six weapons of influence” which were apparently originally defined by Dr Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Or maybe it was his other book: “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive” written with Dr. Noah Goldstein and Steve J. Martin. I dont know because I haven’t read them and Wikipedia is not clear.

The Six weapons of influence are:
By appealing to authority (name dropping) you can associate your argument with someone the audience may like, trust, admire or respect. By doing this its probable that some of the positive influece will rub off on what your trying to achieve.

Commitment & Consistency.
Apparently once you have obtained a commitment from someone, they are more likely to extend or stretch that commitment to include other obligations than they are to agree to those obligations outright. Kinda scary really. Fries with that anyone?

You scratch my back, i’ll scratch yours. Simple, but not really persuasive, more like bartering. However, it can be used more subtly, like with free marketing samples or by just being plain nice to someone you are going to need something from at some point in the future.

If you make someone either feel sorry for you, or like you, they will probably do something for you. Simple as that.

If something is rare or in limited supply, we typically covet it and value it higher. Therefore if you create a sense that someone will miss out if they don’t agree to what you propose now, its more likely people will become involved. In a game of musical chairs no one wants to be the person still standing when the music stops.

Social proof.
Otherwise known as conformity or peer group pressure. It would seem that people are fundamentally like cattle (sheep in particular). We copy and follow what other people do (I certainly do on the dancefloor!). Therefore, get one person to follow you and it will be a lot easier to get more to follow.

Persuasiveness Tip #2

Hit pay dirt with this one, although it still leaves me feeling kinda dissapointed.

Aristotle noticed that using logic (logos) is perhaps the worst way to persuade someone. Arousing a strong emotional bond to your point of view or fear and doom to the opposing views (pathos) and tying your position to deeply-rooted, commonly-held beliefs (ethos) is the key to success.”

This little gem cam from the folks (besides Aristotle) at:

They have a 9 step program for becomming persuasive that looks worth a shot but I still get the feeling that after it your going to smell and sound like a politician. I’ll keep looking.


I’ve recently started taking more notice of how other people persuade me. I used to think that I was pretty immune to peer group pressure and certainly wasn’t interested in pleasing people for the sake of it or popularity. Self centered is probably a fair description of me most of the time. However, recently I’ve felt that a few people have had some kind of persuasive grip on me, and it has a wierd love/hate feel to it. I want to please these people because I admire them (either for the wrong or right reasons) but then the ingrained skeptic in me politely niggles away at my recently earned satisfaction by pointing out I was just persuaded to do something which had little or no benefit to myself – not even the warm inner glow of philanthropy.

I admire persuasive people. They get stuff done. So, i’m determined to brush up on what makes people persuasive so that:
1. I can be more persuasive and get more stuff done
2. I can tell when someone is trying to be persuasive with me, call them on it and see what happens.

Persuasive Tip #1.

I did some research. The first site I landed on was this one: Its terrible. It really pissed me off because it was like reading a climate deniers handbook on how to deal with hard facts. Don’t listen to anything they say, trust me and wait for Persuasive Tip #2, I’ll find something much better than this site!