Bringing People to Your Side

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In the previous module, we discussed the different ways you can increase your influence over other people, and set the stage for persuasion. We will continue on that thread in this module, and discuss the ways you can bring people to your side. Particularly, we will discuss the persuasive techniques of appealing to a person’s emotions and reason.

A Dash of Emotion

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Emotions have always been a driving force for people’s behavior. Advertisers appeal to emotions all the time; they tell you that so-and-so beauty product can make you feel confident around the opposite sex, while so-and-so theme park can make you forget all your worries. There are those who begin a relationship based solely on how the other person made them feel. More so, advocacies, political campaigns, and even wars are waged, based on a collective sense of anger, contempt, or injustice. 

Thus, you can never underestimate emotions as a way of influencing and persuading other people. 

Why are emotions powerful? For one, emotions heavily influence a person’s sense of comfort and general state of well-being. Positive emotions make us feel good, while negative emotions drive us to do something to make us feel good.  But more so, emotions connect all of us to the “human” side of ourselves — almost all emotions are universal and can cross race, religion, age, and social status.

How can you add a “dash of emotion” to your communication?

  • Focus on positive emotions as benefits. If you want to bring a person to your side, tell them how good the proposal will make them feel. For example: if you want to convince your spouse to take you on that dream vacation, describe how relaxing a day you’ll have. If he can picture it in his mind, then you’ve succeeded.
  • Focus on a negative emotion, and then add a call to action. Negative emotions are powerful in influencing behavior because they bring about a sense of dissonance in a person. All people want to feel good, which is why anger, sadness, shock, or indignation doesn’t sit well with most. An example of using a negative emotion to bring people to your side is describing the horror of an accident in order to convince people to wear their seat belts.
  • Show that it’s personal. Instead of focusing on the other person’s emotions, you can focus on communicating your own. An effective way to persuade others is to show that your conviction is borne of a personal experience, and that you are emotionally attached to an idea. For example, showing your excitement verbally and non-verbally while explaining an ideal can show that you really believe in what you are pitching. 

To be able to communicate emotion in your communication, you must use one of the influencing skills discussed earlier: seeing the other side. If you know how the other person looks at the situation, you will know what emotions will appeal to them.  

Emotions can be communicated through body language (e.g. raising a fist to show that you are angry), variations in voice pitch, intonation and emphasis, directly saying what you feel or what you want the other person to feel, and painting a picture of situations where an emotional response is expected.

And don’t forget: to use emotions effectively, use the appropriate amount. Less can be more, so don’t overdo it!

Plenty of Facts

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While emotions are a powerful influence to people’s behavior, we all know that people are not just a bundle of emotions. Some situations require an appeal to the mind instead of the heart. An effective communication must make sense. More so, it must have basis in facts.

Facts create persuasive arguments because there is no way to dispute facts. If something is true, real, or verified by research, it has to be accepted. More so, presenting facts in communication show the extent that you have studied a subject, which in turn shows that you are serious in what you are saying. 

There are two skills that can help in the use of facts during communication.

  • The first skill is the ability to separate fact from opinion. Facts are objective data, and can be verified by credible procedures such as empirical research or expert opinion. It is considered true on the basis of actual evidence. An opinion, however, is a subjective statement that may be based on personal interpretation.
  • The second skill is the ability to create logical arguments from facts. Facts can’t be disputed, but you also have to use them properly in order to give them impact. Arguments from facts have to follow the rules of deductive or inductive reasoning. For example, from the research finding that watching TV increases attention deficiency among toddlers, “we should reduce TV time for toddlers” is a more valid conclusion than “attention deficiency doesn’t exist in adults.”

The following is an example of a communication that uses facts “I believe I deserve this promotion because I was able to increase the department’s productivity by 12% since I held office last year.”

Bringing It All Together

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For best results, use both emotion and facts to influence people. After all, people use both their heart and mind in their daily lives, and addressing both is a more holistic approach to take. 

The key is in being consistent, so that there isn’t a dissonance between the emotional and the rational side of your communication. Done correctly, appeals to emotion can balance the coldness of reason, and facts can temper strong emotions. 

Here is an example of a communication that has emotions and facts together: 

“You should get that wedding dress! It makes you look like a princess — think of how well it will flow when you walk down the aisle, the lights behind you. Plus, it’s on sale — 30% off.  It fits your budget perfectly, leaving you with some extra cash to spend on accessories.”

Case Study

Leo was attempting to convince his manager Conrad that the office needed to make some changes. Leo had been with Conrad’s company for a few years, having recently switched from a similar job he had been at for close to ten years. He was explaining to Conrad that his old office was more efficient due to several easy-to-make changes. He continued, showing Conrad a chart that showed the changes would increase productivity by 20%. Conrad was still unconvinced, so Leo tried an emotional appeal; He told Conrad that he would be more relaxed if the office ran smoother, and he would have less hassle to deal with in his daily routine. This helped Conrad get on board with Leo’s plan.