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Ten Ways to Persuade Someone

Ten Ways to Persuade Someone

Ten Ways to Persuade Someone

Here's a summary of the 10 best ways to persuade:

  1. Direct sensory evidence of the facts.
  2. Logical reasoning.
  3. Consequences.
  4. Majority opinion.
  5. Intuition (gut feelings).
  6. Authority - social.
  7. Authority - knowledge.
  8. Appeal to faith.
  9. Tradition (time honoured practice).
  10. Repetition.

1. Direct sensory evidence of the facts.

The most fundamental claim to truth is direct sensory evidence; what you have personally seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled.

"I know it is true, because I saw it with my own eyes".

If you can claim knowledge, by reference to direct experience, then you should use it.

Of course, you and I know many things that are NOT capable of direct sensory experience. We may not have witnessed the events of World War I, but we do not doubt that the war took place.

How? By logical reasoning.

2. Logical reasoning.

The human mind has evolved to be capable of transcending our own personal experience, by means of reasoning. The human mind is the only brain capable of logical reasoning based upon abstracting from the sensory percepts to form concepts.

Concepts are abstract "mental objects", that are rooted in sense perception, but allow us to go far beyond what is directly perceivable.

We have developed concepts of physics, biology, chemistry, politics, mathematics, history, ethics, technology and every other branch of human knowledge.

If you can provide a logical proof, by reference to named principles, then you should use them.

Statements you make, that you cannot backup by reference to a logical proof, are likely to be disregarded by many people.

But not everyone will disregard illogical ideas. You and I know that people believe many illogical things. Many people are NOT moved by logic alone. They are more impressed by their own self-interest.

So, you should appeal to their own self-interest. How?

By appealing to pleasure pain consequences.

3. Pleasure / Pain Consequences.

Humans are not random creatures; whatever they do is purposeful. Human purpose is twofold:

  1. To minimise the threat of pain, and
  2. To maximise the chances of pleasure.

Everything you do, can be explained by that twin target.

Everything you do, you do because you think that it will either; reduce pain or increase pleasure.

So, if you can link the implementation of your idea to experiencing more pleasure or less pain, then you should do so.

Everyone wants to gain benefits, and everyone wants to reduce pain, so you should make use of that fact when you explain the consequences of your idea.

Of course, people are not completely self-centred. We have all evolved to be social animals, and we pay a lot of attention to other people.

So, you can persuade people, by appealing to the prevailing majority opinion.

4. Majority Opinion.

We have evolved as social animals and we pay a lot of attention to the opinion of the group.

Not many people like being in a minority. Most people (though all not), will change their mind when they discover that their opinion is in the minority.

If you can show that your idea is the majority view, then most people will lean towards it.

So, if your idea is also the majority view, then you may as well use that fact in your presentation of the idea.

Not everyone is persuaded by the majority, many people have more respect for intuition or "gut feelings".

5. Gut feelings.

Have you ever had the experience of having your mind split into two halves, with the logical half saying one thing, but your gut feelings saying the opposite?

When there is a clash between your logical mind and your emotional mind, who wins? Which do you go with your logic, or your gut feelings?

Many go with their gut feelings. In fact, they take more notice of their intuition than their sense of logic. You hear people say things like, "Trust your gut". "What do your feelings tell you?"

So, if you can make your idea sound as if it has been endorsed by gut feeling and intuition, then it will add force to your argument.

But not everyone is impressed with gut feelings, they are more impressed with authority.

6. Authority (based upon social standing).

When people don't know what to believe, they tend to believe in authorities. There are two types of authority - social and scientific.

Let us talk for a few moments about social authorities.

During the recent Brexit debate, many people were swayed by celebrities, such as actors and pop stars, (Hugh Grant and Bob Geldof) airing their Brexit views.

The idea is, "If Bob Geldof says it, it must be true".

Advertisers know that many people are swayed by celebrity endorsements, that is why they use them to endorse their products.

If you can point to famous people and show that they share your view, then you may want to use that too.

The other sort of authority is based, not upon celebrity but rather, upon scientific or technical knowledge.

7. Authority (based upon technical knowledge).

Most people will have faith in an "expert opinion", if the person offering the opinion is talking about the topic in which they are an expert.

You will probably believe your plumber if he tells you that you need a new washer on your tap.

You may believe the Governor of the Bank of England if he tells you to expect a recession.

If you can use the authority of an expert to back up your case, then you should do so.

The problem is that not everyone believes the "experts" anymore. We know that some plumbers make mistakes, or lie, and we know the Governor of BoE cannot predict the future of the markets, any more than anyone else.

So, if you cannot believe experts, who can you believe in?

Some people turn to religion.

8. Religious doctrine.

Most people have some element of religious belief.

Religion is not based upon science, but upon faith.

The holy scriptures of the Bible, Koran or Tora (et al) are all based upon faith and each has millions of followers.

If your idea is backed up by a statement in a religious text, then you may want to quote the text, in order to give your idea more weight.

For example, many people will be impressed if you quote a statement in the Bible that seems to correlate with your idea.

In a similar way, you can use tradition.

9. Tradition (time honoured practice).

We are creatures of habit. We do many strange things simply because we were bought up to do it that way.

These habits become our traditions. There are family traditions, local traditions, and national traditions.

Many people will do things simply because it is traditional to do them. They don't think about why we do them.

For example, schools in Britain have a seven-week holiday in the summer, when no academic work is done. Why? Because, traditionally the kids were needed on the farms to help get the harvest in.

in relation to learning theory, this seven-week break from study is bad practice, since the kids forget a lot in seven weeks. But still it continues. Tradition demands a seven-week holiday, so we will have a seven-week holiday!

If you can prove that your idea is in compliance with tradition, then many will find that argument convincing. On the other hand many people would find that argument wholly unconvincing.

So, you need to use a combination of the above, depending on the issue and depending on who you are talking to.

10. Repetition of a simple message.

How many times do you have to hear something before you remember it?

Information heard or seen only once, is soon forgotten.

Before you can believe or act on an idea, you must first be able to remember it.

And to remember it, you must be exposed to it multiple times.

Most people must hear something at least five times, before they remember it.

Therefore, in order to get an idea into the other persons mind and memory, you will almost certainly need to repeat it at least five times.

Notice how politicians and advertisers repeat simple slogans over and over. Some famous examples:

  • Crooked Hilary
  • Make America Great again
  • Take Back Control
  • Just do it
  • It's Fingerlickin' good.

Repetition is one of the tools you should use, to persuade people. They cannot act on an idea they cannot remember, so repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.


To get the best results, learn these different methods of persuading people, and select the one(s) that you think will be most appropriate to the person with whom you are talking.

Not one size fits all. Everyone responds differently to each method, so you will have to improvise and experiment within the framework I have given you.

Good luck with your experiments!

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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