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The Art of Persuasion Essay

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Abstract

Persuasion is one of the essential managerial tools in the contemporary business setting. Importantly, persuasion seeks to influence the attitude or perception of an individual or group through the delivery of information regarding a particular product, service, event, or idea. The art of persuasion requires an individual to possess several virtues and skills, including curiosity, honesty, confidence, empathy, exceptional communication skills, and the identification of common interest. Several types of persuasion such as low-balling, foot-in-the-door, door-in-the-face, and scarcity have seen a considerable application in today’s business environment. The development of theories, for instance, the elaboration likelihood model (ELM), the social judgment/involvement theory, and the information integration theory guides the various persuasion approaches that are applied in the business setting.

Introduction

In the business context, persuasion refers to the process that is geared towards the alteration of individuals or a groups’ attitude or behavior regarding an idea, product, service, event, or another party through the application of written or spoken words to deliver a particular feeling, reasoning, or information. Persuasion requires one to establish credibility, the development of frames for the attainment of a common good, the provision of profound evidence, and the creation of emotional connection (Dillard & Shen, 2013).

Axiomatically, persuasion is a crucial managerial tool since it fosters the efficiency of a corporate organization in an array of ways. Notably, the art of persuasion assists in the acquisition of new clients, the hiring of the most talented employees, and the creation of new relationships in the dynamic business settings. As such, persuasion denotes the extent to which an organization places the needs of others above its own. Thus, the concept of persuasion is influential to the extent that it wins the admiration of the influenced parties in a way, which bolsters the productivity of an organization (Fisher & Gonzalez, 2013). Therefore, this paper explores the art of persuasion by examining the different types and theories that have been embraced to address the concept.

Review of Literature

In the contemporary business surroundings, the increasing rivalry and demands prompt organizations to integrate the art of persuasion as an important managerial skill that fosters the attainment of the set goals and objectives. Importantly, Fisher and Gonzalez (2013) argue that persuasion helps an organization to influence parties, including clients, employees, and potential investors. The possession of the concept of persuasion is integral in acquiring the relevant knowledge to drive positive outcomes in the business setting. Notably, persuasion and influence are the main aspects of management since they influence managers, workers under their span of control, and the organization they serve (Shaw & Elger, 2013).

The art of persuasion influences the productivity and performance of managers positively. Managers streamline the activities in an organization through the integration of functions, as well as the coordination of different departments in an organization. Managers who apply the art of persuasion influence their juniors positively in a way that fosters the realization of the desirable goals and objectives (Shrum, Liu, Nespoli, & Lowrey, 2012). Since managers link workers under their supervision to the shared goals of the organization by assuming leadership roles, they need to possess the necessary skills required for effective persuasion and influence. The relevant persuasion skills have seen managers in industries such as automotive, banking, utilities, and telecommunications perform exceptionally well by affecting junior employees, as well as customers and other relevant stakeholders (Dillard & Shen, 2013). Thus, applying the art of management is vital for enhancing the performance of managers in the competitive and demanding nature of contemporary industries.

Curiosity is one of the attributes that managers should possess to enhance their application of the art of persuasion in business engagements (Fisher & Gonzalez, 2013). The skill assists them (managers) to understand the needs and expectations of others before convincing them about a particular idea, product, service, or event. By so doing, managers streamline their physical and emotional connection between them and the recipient, in most cases, the client or employee. The curiosity aspect helps managers to open the persuasion strategy by creating open-ended discussions that provide avenues for managers to influence the perceptions of others (Boush, Friestad, & Wright, 2015). Thus, the art of persuasion requires the manager to employ curiosity as a skill that influences other parties positively.

Further, Dillard and Shen (2013) assert that the art of persuasion requires one to possess exceptional communication skills that help to deliver the right message to the clients, workers, and the executive among other recipients. Notably, effective communication is an integral aspect of business operations since it influences decision-making processes in an organization. Particularly, the art of persuasion requires one to be a keen listener. Shrum et al. (2012) argue that effective listening ensures that one gives full attention to the parties they wish to persuade. One shows how the listening party values the recipient’s opinion and interests. Since persuasion requires managers or leaders to win the trust of others, effective communication is an essential factor for bolstering the realization of the desired ends.

Additionally, the efficiency of one’s voice while persuading others improves the communication process. Besides maintaining clarity and audibility, the rate of speaking needs to embrace a slow pace. In this case, varying the pitch while speaking to other people with the aim of persuading them is crucial since it enables the persuader to underscore key points (Fisher & Gonzalez, 2013). The avoidance of interjections and filler words is also essential for improving the communication aspect of the art of persuasion. Moreover, planning what to say helps the persuader to convey the message with confidence and conviction.

In the subject of persuasion, honesty is essential for influencing the perceptions and attitudes of others. When persuading an individual in the organizational or business setting, one promises to deliver a particular result if the other party decides to abide by the established agreement (Shaw & Elger, 2013). Therefore, it is necessary for managers to embrace honesty as a crucial virtue in persuasion since it fosters their professional reputation in a way that enhances their ability to influence others positively. Dishonesty in the corporate world leads to destructiveness because it usually misleads the recipients of a particular piece of information, reasoning, or feeling. In this light, for the sake of influencing others positively to meet objectives that are meaningful to the involved parties, upholding honest is essential while persuading others.

Shaw and Elger (2013) emphasize that the art of persuasion requires the depiction of confidence in all situations. In this case, portraying the degree to which people believe in their idea or reasoning is relevant when persuading a colleague or client. Importantly, persuasion requires managers or leaders in an organization to avoid showing signs of anxiety or self-doubt since such revelations undermine the trust of the persuaded parties. Therefore, when speaking to a customer, colleague, or potential partner, clarity and straightforwardness are critical in building the confidence required to reach the set targets. Moreover, the provision of information regarding a particular idea, product, service, or initiative strengthens the confidence of the persuader.

According to Boush et al. (2015), the art of persuasion in business also requires one to depict empathy by understanding the problems and needs experienced by others. In this regard, through empathy, businesspeople can demonstrate the extent to which a product or service they offer can meet the needs or solve the problems encountered by an individual who is regarded as a potential client. The approach is crucial in persuasion since it enables one to gain a comprehension of the other person’s feeling, motives, and situation. The empathetic approach also provides an opportunity for individuals to relate a similar experience they had before when convincing the other party to make a decision. Empathy enhances the establishment of trust and connections that are significant for business growth.

The identification of a common ground streamlines the persuasion process in business. The creation of a common ground fosters the relationship-building and bonding aspects after meeting a new individual to persuade (Dillard & Shen, 2013). As such, the establishment of rapport is integral in knowing the persons that a manager or employee needs to convince since it offers the persuader the relevant information for convincing them about a product, service, or idea. Further, finding a common ground enables the persuader to unearth the likes and dislikes of the party persuaded before trying to convince them to make a particular decision. In this regard, the establishment of a commonality streamlines the persuasion experience.

Moreover, persuasion relies on several techniques, including the bandwagon, glittering generalities, testimonials, and citing statistics. The bandwagon technique tries to influence individuals that they need to make a choice because each person is doing it. Further, the glittering generalities technique seeks the application of the core values of persuasion. Besides, organizations now apply the testimonial strategy, which endorses celebrities or credible sources to alter the perceptions of the persuaded individuals (Shrum et al., 2012).

Types of Persuasion

The art of persuasion can realize its effectiveness through different techniques. As such, persuasion models, including law-balling, foot-in-the-door, door-in-the-face, and scarcity offer a range of benefits to the persuader who represents a given organization.

Low-Balling

The low-balling approach is applied in the aspect of pricing in marketing strategies where a businessperson charges an item lower compared to the intended price. After persuading the clients in a way that wins their preference of the product or service, the dealer can adjust the price upwards without the clients changing their attitudes and perceptions (Boush et al., 2015). This type of persuasion could also apply in other business contexts besides marketing where an organization influences the audience before hiking the cost of acquiring products or services.

Foot-in-the-Door

The foot-in-the-door approach to persuasion starts with securing small requests from the audiences before convincing them to comply with greater requests. As such, dealers or individuals who adopt this type of persuasion seek to acquire approval while interacting with an audience (Boush et al., 2015). The persuaders apply consistency in justifying the agreement of the individual or group they aim to influence.

Door-in-the-Face

The door-in-the-face approach to persuasion starts with a request or offer that is usually enormous and unreasonable in most cases with the aim of securing the audience’s agreement with a smaller bid or request (Shaw & Elger, 2013). The main objective in this type of persuasion is to influence the decision of the audience to consider the second choice, which seems realistic. Importantly, the second offer gives the audience a chance to eliminate the guilt developed after refusing the initial offer.

Scarcity

The scarcity type of persuasion approaches the audiences by informing them about the competitiveness in the market that would limit the availability or accessibility of a particular product or service within a given timeframe. The approach is used in advertising an array of goods and services offered by a company (Shaw & Elger, 2013). The rarity/limitations prompt the audience to consider acquiring the item before it runs out of offer or before time elapses.

The Different Theories of Persuasion

Various approaches seek to foster an understanding of the way individuals convey influential messages to an audience. Importantly, the theories of persuasion focus on the key aspects of communication during the persuasion process, including the source of information, the message, and the audience. Therefore, examining the different theories of persuasion is relevant in the context of this paper.

Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)

Founded by Petty and Cacioppo, the ELM theory of persuasion regards the central and peripheral routes as the two paths that facilitate the efficiency of communicating a particular message to influence an audience. The central path upholds the profound and thoughtful arguments conveyed by the message (Shrum et al., 2012). The central route encourages the participation of the parties involved in the arguments, as they are required to process the opinions before making their contributions. As such, two fundamentals, namely, motivation and the ability to develop thoughts regarding the message conveyed, are essential for the effectiveness of the persuasion process.

The motivational aspect influences the audience to process the message centrally before making a decision. Therefore, it is crucial for the audience to gain motivation to view the message conveyed as important. In this light, it is necessary to avoid disruptions to capture the concentration of the audiences before they engage in central processing (Boush et al., 2015). On the other hand, the peripheral path to persuasion transpires in instances where the audience considers other signals besides the profoundness of the message delivered before making a decision. In this case, the various arguments presented have the capacity to influence the audiences even if they (audiences) have limited information regarding the issue discussed. Thus, the audiences in the peripheral path usually have no time to process the information conveyed to them since they regard the arguments presented as valid (Shaw & Elger, 2013). The audience in peripheral processing is passive compared to the one engaged in central processing.

The attitudes influenced by the arguments presented via the central route have a greater temporal persistence, behavior prediction, and opposition to persuasion compared to attitude alterations that are driven through the peripheral path (Boush et al., 2015). However, the persuader needs to consider the impact that his or her arguments have on the behavior of the audiences. Therefore, understanding the two routes through which the audiences process the information is crucial since it fosters the efficiency of the persuasion process.

The ELM holds that three factors, namely, involvement and cognitive responses, argument quality, and argument quantity, influence the effectiveness of persuasion. The involvement of the audience influences the volume of thoughts generated by the listeners, thus enhancing the possibility of changing their perceptions to embrace the new idea. As a result, the persuader also improves the salience, relevance, and significance of the message delivered to the audience (Fisher & Gonzalez, 2013). As such, the engagement of the receiver through multiple arguments motivates him or her to engage his or her cognition before delivering any response. Therefore, by creating an environment that engages the recipients in a way that provides them with an opportunity to think, the persuader enhances the chances of persuading the audience.

The strength and quality of the arguments presented by the persuader also play a considerable role in influencing the decisions of the audience. Notably, strong arguments have a greater capability to result in the generation of favorable thoughts compared to weak opinions. In this regard, the ELM theory holds that strong arguments have greater chances of success in persuading others compared to weak ones (Fisher & Gonzalez, 2013). Furthermore, the quality of the arguments facilitates the involvement aspect of persuasion, thus leading to the development of likable positive responses from the audience.

Moreover, Shrum et al. (2012) highlight that the quantity of the arguments also plays a considerable role in facilitating the generation of cognitive responses from the audience. In this case, the presentation of several arguments triggers the responses of the audience, unlike in the case of few arguments. The attitude alteration caused by the quantity of the argument is essential for the effective delivery of the intended idea, reasoning, or information.

The Social Judgment/Involvement Theory

Initially established by Muzafer Sherif and Carl Hovland before its further development by Carolyn Sherif, the social judgment theory of persuasion focuses on the interpretation of the messages conveyed to the audience. In this respect, the audiences are allowed to judge the information delivered to them depending on the extent to which it agrees or disagrees with their attitude. Additionally, Dillard and Shen (2013) assert that the involvement theory considers the participation of the audience after the delivery of the persuasive message since it depicts the degree of importance to the receivers. Therefore, the involvement of the audiences is a key element for attitude change in the persuasion process.

The listeners’ attitude forms their anchor point in the persuasion experience. Nonetheless, the flexibility and rationality of individuals provide room for the toleration of slight disagreements. As such, the audiences’ attitude towards a particular persuasive message depends on three latitudes that include acceptance, non-commitment, and rejection. The latitude of acceptance represents the most satisfying position, as well as other viewpoints that the audiences consider acceptable to a given extent. In this case, the center of the latitude denotes the listeners’ anchor point.

The latitude of non-commitment stands at either side of the opportunity of acceptance. Non-commitment indicates the reasonable disagreements of the audiences with their anchor or attitude towards a particular idea. As such, the audiences demonstrate a degree of flexibility in accepting the disagreements since they make sense to some extent. Therefore, at this point, the audiences find themselves in a position where they do not regard it as either objectionable or acceptable (Fisher & Gonzalez, 2013). As such, the audiences embrace a neutral position that balances their attitude towards the message delivered by the persuader. Moreover, the rejection opportunity is usually outside the other two latitudes. This (rejection) opportunity represents the objectionable attitude developed by the audience (Dillard & Shen, 2013). As such, the audience applies the rejection autonomy to disagree with the message presented. The opportunity also regards other positions as refutable. Thus, the audiences have no room to accept the delivered message.

Therefore, the audiences’ attitude, which is regarded as the anchor, their latitude of acceptance, non-commitment, and rejection significantly sway the perception or judgment of the messages. Notably, audiences’ anchor is always attached to their attitude of acceptance. Thus, changes in attitude can result in similar shifts in the attitude of acceptance embraced by the audience. Similarly, the latitudes of non-commitment also change as the individuals or groups modify their attitudes towards a particular message delivered by the persuader.

The Information Integration Theory

Since 1971 up to 1991, Norman Anderson carried out an array of experiments to investigate the formation and alteration of attitudes through the incorporation of new information into the current thoughts or cognition. The theory regards two aspects of information, namely, the value and weight, as integral in persuasive messages. As such, the evaluation of the information delivered to the audience denotes its value whereas its perceived significance represents the weight aspect (Boush et al., 2015). Therefore, the information integration theory holds that the acquisition of new information, especially through persuasive means influences one’s attitudes towards a particular idea, reasoning, or feeling.

The obtained information does not influence the replacement of one’s prevailing attitudes. Nonetheless, the acquisition of positive information facilitates the abandonment of negative attitudes regarding a particular issue. As such, positive attitudes also become constructive, thanks to the encouraging information conveyed by the persuader. Therefore, for effective persuasion of an audience, the delivery of positive information is crucial. In this light, the theory suggests six approaches that change the perceptions of others significantly. First, the persuader can heighten the favorability or value of the information shared to support the preferred attitude.

Second, adding weight to the piece of information conveyed is also vital in fostering compatibility with the attitude of the audience. Third, reducing the value or favorability of the message that conflicts the attitude of the recipient is also strategic in persuasion. Fourth, a reduction of the weight of information that contradicts the preferred attitude is also strategic for enhancing the compatibility of the thoughts of the audience with the conveyed message. Moreover, the provision of information that is favorable to the audience also boosts the success of the persuasion experience (Boush et al., 2015). Finally, providing information that reminds the audiences about key ideas or concepts is imperative in influencing their attitudes positively. By so doing, one creates a streamlined persuasion that bolsters the realization of set objectives.

Conclusion

The art of persuasion aims at fostering the efficiency of the influencing the attitudes and perceptions of different individuals in the contemporary world. Persuasion needs the application of effective communication skills coupled with attributes such as honesty, empathy, and confidence to influence people successfully. Therefore, through the integration of the different theoretical approaches of persuasion, managers can bolster their efficiency in influencing other people towards the attainment of shared goals and objectives within the organization.

References

Boush, D. M., Friestad, M., & Wright, P. (2015). Deception in the marketplace: The psychology of deceptive persuasion and consumer self-protection. London: Routledge.

Dillard, J. P., & Shen, L. (2013). The sage handbook of persuasion. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Fisher, E., & Gonzalez, Y. S. (2013). The art of influencing and persuasion: How managers can put ‘square pegs’ into ’round holes’. Journal of Management Research, 5(4), 1-14.

Shaw, D., & Elger, B. (2013). Evidence-based persuasion: An ethical imperative. Jama, 309(16), 1689-1690.

Shrum, L. J., Liu, M., Nespoli, M., & Lowrey, T. M. (2012). Persuasion in the marketplace: How theories of persuasion apply to marketing and advertising. The Persuasion Handbook, 1(1), 314-30.

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