The Power of Persuasion Essay

I. “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” These are wise words spoken by Benjamin Franklin, whom we all know for his roles in American History as a writer, scientist and politician. II. In this quote, Benjamin Franklin speaks of how to persuade. But why would it be important to know how to persuade? III. I always have to ask my child to pick up his toys after he done playing with them and my husband to take out the trash.

Of course, they never want to do it so I must persuade them into doing so. At some point in life, we all have to persuade someone into doing something.

IV. Tonight, I will tell you about the how powerful persuasion is, techniques for persuasion, how to not be persuaded.


I. One could say that most of the things that people do, they do them on their own free will. Up to certain point this is true; many individuals act and do things based upon their needs and wants, others need to be persuaded, or if you will, motivated into doing something.

a.Persuasion is a skill that most business people such as, marketers, salespeople and advertisers must have or acquire in order to succeed in today’s business world. b.For example, a company like launches a new line of hair care products that promise to do wonders for your hair, but you have been using a type of shampoo and conditioner for as long as you can remember, because it works for your hair. c. You have developed brand loyalty for these products and probably you wouldn’t think of changing to a new line of products. d. But this company’s campaign and offers of free samples for you to try are so alluring that you decide to try and after trying you decide to switch. e.You have not only been persuaded to change products, but your perception of the products you used for years has also changed.

(Transition: This case illustrates one of the “six basic tendencies of human behavior that Robert B. Cialdini mentions In his article “The Science of Persuasion”, published in the Scientific America: Mind magazine in 2001.)

II. The following tendencies play an important role in the decision making process of an individual and lead to the use of persuasion techniques based on each of them are:

a.Reciprocation: one could also refer to this as “quid pro quo” or “this for that.” Most individuals agree to do or contribute to a number of things if they see a profit or a benefit from it in most cases, in other cases they might do it just for goodwill.

Technique: Free samples at food stores, free at home inspections from exterminators, free workout sessions with gym membership. Customers are exposed to the product or service and also indebted.

b.Consistency: “public commitments, even seemingly minor ones, direct future actions.” Technique: Restaurants ask customers who make reservations to call and cancel if they have a change of plans. This simple request asks the customers to make a public commitment.

c.Social validation: society has also an impact on an individual’s actions and decisions, because actions and tendencies that have a positive impact in society are most likely to be replicated. Technique: A fund raiser shows home owners a list of the neighbors that contributed to the building of a new library; the longer the list, the greater the effect.

d.Liking: “people prefer to say yes to those they like” Whether a product, an individual or an organization, individuals tend to act and make decisions upon what they like. Technique: Companies that offer at home parties like Tupperware, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef are a success because people buy from a familiar person “a liked friend” rather than an unknown salesperson.

e.Authority: “we usually want the opinions of true authorities. Their insights help us choose quickly and well.” One could say that this tendency goes hand to hand with social validation and recognition. The opinions of those who have dedicated years to study and explore a specific filed often influence an individual’s decision. Technique: Phrases like “Four out of five doctors recommend…” “Dentists’ favorite toothpaste…” attempt to harness the power of authority.

f.Scarcity: “a great deal of evidence shows that items and opportunities become more desirable to us as they become unavailable” Technique: Often in store one sees “limited time” and “limited supplies” offers but in most of these occasions, this is nothing more than a marketing strategy.

(Transition: These tendencies and techniques can persuade individual into doing or acquiring a number of things.)

II. Unfortunately, there are some people who use unethical persuasion techniques. Some of these are:

a. The “by all means necessary” approach to obtain the results they want; they usually violate businesses ethic codes. b.An example of these are the well known pyramid scheme, vapor advertising (advertising of a product that does not exist) and scams, all of these are based upon making individuals buy or commit to do things they wouldn’t normally buy or do. c.Another well known form of persuasion is “peer pressure.” d.It is possible that at some point in one’s life, one has done something due to peer pressure. e.This is commonly seen among high school and college students where one of the needs of the students is to be liked and socially recognized on campus. f.It can also be seen within organization; among employees. g.A moderate amount of peer pressure can be beneficiary for an individual when it motivates the individuals to act toward becoming a better student, employee, or just a better person in general. h.Peer pressure can be dangerous when the only goal is to be socially accepted; in this case most individuals would do “whatever it takes” to be accepted.


Persuasion is a powerful tool that can be used to motivate individuals to do good things for society and for themselves, but it can also be used to do harm. Based on the tendencies upon which people act and make decisions, it is up to the individual to determine when and how they allow themselves to be persuaded, because as strong and powerful as persuasion can be, there is also another powerful tool that individuals tend to lean on when they have to make a decision and that is intuition.

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