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Persuasion :The Art and Science

May 17, 2008

We humans are persuaded and persuade perhaps at every point of time. If you follow a certain set of moral epithets, then somebody was incredibly successful in selling it to you at some point of time. If you think stealing, murdering is bad, somebody persuaded in following a list of dos and donts.

In business, marketing and other areas considers good persuaders a huge plus point. Nay! not a plus point but almost a weapon in the arsenal. We call them ace-marketers too.

But the art of persuading has been much studied since time immemorial. Aristotle posited that trust, logic and emotion are the important cogwheels in the wheel called persuasion. Trust forms an important factor, parents for their inherent position can be fantastic salesmen, good teachers can be fantastic persuaders. And if you are neither of them, and you are trying to sell, then evoke the best and the most positive imagery.

Although I am not a huge fan of this, yet, logic at times can help you to sell. But only when the logic is thrown around to show to the other person how it will benefit him rather than us. IMHO, to successfully sell, the quarry has to be kept as far away from his logical alter ego. Its far easier to appeal to the emotional alter ego, than the logical alter ego. And this brings to emotion. Appeal, positively, heart tuggingly to the emotional ego.

Why emotional? Because man inherently makes decision primarily and solely by his emotional needs and desires. Yet, he justifies it by citing logical reasons. After all, man is not as rational as we think him out to be.
So shut off his, logical reasoning part of his brain, appeal and sell to the emotional side of his, and he will take care to sell it to his logical reasoning side.

Our economics assumptions is inherently skewed as we imagine, an agent which is Homo Economicus, a mythical individual who desires to maximize his economic payoffs by making a decision at any cost. But socio-economics targets at that root the most vehemently for it argues that, we as humans are not logical but emotional decision makers in nature. Recently Dan Ariely, socio-economist from MIT wrote his book, Predicting Irrationality, a brief of whose can be found here, and it does again discuss how we make our even day to day economic decisions under the tricks our mind plays on us.
Give that piece a read. Its good.

Note to myself: Now read “Predicting Irrationality”

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