The Power of Influence

Unfortunately, too often in life we are persuaded by the power of position.  The power of position is simply someone else making demands or requirements on you by the standing of their position in relationship to you. There are several serious drawbacks with this type of persuasion. First of all normally the person using the power of their position is egotistical in their motivations and desires. In other words what it is that they want from you is going to benefit them but it is not necessarily going to be good for you. Another problem with the power of position is that it is usually temporary and conditional. Once their position of power over you is gone then their influence over you to do what it is they what no long has much meaning and may even result in you resenting their artificial persuasion over you thus having an opposite effect in the long run. 

The alternative to the power of position is the power of influence. The power of positon is based on a person’s status, control or even worst, acts of force or threats. The power of influence on the other hand is based on the individual themselves. Their influence is based on their personal credibility, knowledge and empathy. And this type of power is not temporary or conditional but rather can be permanent and even life changing. Another virtue of the power of influence is that by using this form of persuasion you cannot help but be altruistic in your approach towards others. This is because the power of influence requires you to establish positive rapport with the other person and the elements of rapport building include trust, empathy and credibility which by their nature are altruistic.

So, on one side we have the power of position that usually is self-serving, temporary and conditional and can even be abusive and counterproductive. And then on the other side we have the power of influence that is normally mutually beneficial, lasting, unconditional and honorable as well as effective.

Confucius made the statement that “It does not matter if you have a high position in life, it only matters if you are worthy of a high position in life.”  So ask yourself, which would rather have, a power based on your position in life or the power of influence based on who and what you are.

Now, you are probably asking yourself how I get this power of influence. What exactly is it and how do I obtain it? Well the answer is the same as it is for most things in life. The power of influence is something that needs to be studied and then practiced. The program that I have developed titled the Secret Art of Persuasion is designed to do just that, provide you with the research and learning materials to study how to develop your own power of influence and then provides you with practical exercises for you to perfect your ability to put what you have learned to practice.  

If you choose not to go with my program then at least let me give you a guide to some of the topics of study that will help you get started on your journey. They are: Rapport Building, Good Questioning Techniques to include Socratic Questioning, Good Listening Skills, Elicitation, The Art of Rhetoric to include Pathos, Ethos and Logos, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Critical Thinking and finally The Powers of Persuasion.

If there is one thing that I hope you have gain from this article it is the idea that the powers of persuasion when used correctly can be a positive tool to influence others in such a way that it will  be mutually of benefit to them as well as yourself. And when confronted by others who try to use the power of their position over you, you will be at least aware of their misguided efforts and be able to better defend yourself from their artificial persuasive methods.

Robert Ishoy

Robert is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of the Art of Persuasion. 

His background and credentials
as a subject matter expert includes:

BA in History from California State University Fresno (Cum Laude),
AA in Social Sciences from Merced College,
AS in Intelligence Operations from Cochise College (High Honors).
Member of The Military Intelligence Corps (awarded in 1989),
Former Army Interrogator and veteran of Desert Storm,
Corporate Director of Security and Loss Prevention,
Former Church Missionary,
Master instructor of Human Intelligence for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense.

Additional Training includes; The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation, Joint Interrogation Certification Course, Joint Senior Interrogation Course, Advanced Cognitive Interviewing and Forensic Statement Analysis, U.S. Army Intelligence Center (USAIC) Instructor Training Course, USAIC Small Group Instructor Training Course, USAIC Advanced Instructional Methods Course, Socratic Questioning Workshop. 

Awards and Honors include: Department of Defense Human Intelligence Award 2011, Instructor of the Quarter Award 2012 from HUMINT Training Joint Center of Excellence (HTJCOE). 

The Secret Art of Persuasion


Have you ever wondered how leaders in business, politics and even religion are able to get others do what they want them to do? Are you able to influence others in your life the way you would like to? What are the secrets of persuasion? How can you use the powers of persuasion to improve your life?   

In this booklet you will discover the secrets to the art of persuasion. The Secret Art of Persuasion presents material that has been used and perfected over thousands of years, but does so in a succinct, contemporary, and practical manner. This booklet is written as a compliment to the audio sessions and online activities of this program. The suggested order of study is to first read a session of the booklet, listen to the associated audio, and then do the accompanying reading and exercises for that session. If you do choose to read ahead that is ok but be sure to reread the materials for each session when you begin that session. After completing a session you are asked to share your learning experience in written form on the available website. This way you and others following this program will increase your learning experience by not only reading and listen to the materials I have prepared but also from your own experiences and vicariously from the experience of others. In addition to the comments made of the website there would be a weekly live audio conducted by myself, that all participates can join in on. In these live audio sessions anyone will be able to ask questions, share their own learning experiences and even become a teacher of the art of persuasion yourself. Group dynamics greatly enhances any learning experience.

 I will use three basic tools in this booklet to make my clarifications on each aspect of the art of persuasion. First, I will write the proposition itself; second, I will provide an example or demonstration of the proposition; and third, I will offer practical exercises that you the reader can then practice to acquire each skill for yourself. The practical exercises are the aspect of this program that makes the learning experience complete. As Mahatma Gandhi put it “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

But before we begin let me first tell you what I will and will not cover in this program. There are many forms of persuasion, some very crude, others highly progressive. The Hierarchy of Persuasive Methods (HOPM) parallels somewhat to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from the most basic to the more advanced.

In Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs you will learn that every individual has their own sensitivity of what their immediate and long term needs are. To mistake what a person’s own perception is of what is needed can lead to errors in judgment when attempting to persuade that person. Gaining an understanding of the Hierarchy of Needs will enhance your ability to translate those needs to the art of persuasion.

Hierarchy of Persuasive Methods Table


The Hierarchy of Persuasive Methods is from the bottom up: Force, Threats, Coercion, Negotiation, Tangible Incentives, Nontangible Incentives and Conversion.   

Force is the most based of all. Slavery fits into this form of persuasion. The lower forms of persuasion are considered cruder due to the fact that they are ethically questionable, usually temporary and based solely on external conditions. But even force as a form of persuasion is sometimes needed, for example, when a police officer uses force to stop someone from injuring or killing another person.

Threats are only persuasive while the threat exists from an external source. Take away the threat and all persuasive power ends. Force and/or threats as persuasive methods also can be counterproductive since it is not uncommon for the other person or persons to end up becoming an adversary.

Law enforcement is based on this form of persuasion. Break the law and you will be punished. Another common use of a threat is “do your job right or get fired”.  

The next form of persuasion in the hierarchy is coercion. Coercion is more subtle than a direct threat, but still a form of a threat. For example a supervisor interviewing an employee for theft says “cooperate in this investigation and we will not involve the police.  

Negotiations also typically include compromise or some form of give and take. Not what I consider a very desirable form of persuasion. If you are interested in learning more about this form of persuasion there are many courses of study available on the development of negotiation skills. In the business world there are many consultants and consulting firms that teach negotiation skills. Though more advanced than the lower forms of persuasion negotiations still are based on external conditions and are usually temporary as well.

Tangible incentives are another form of persuasion that also rely on external conditions and are temporary. Parents use this form of persuasion when they tell their child “clean your room and I will buy you an ice cream”. Often, the tangible incentive is combined with a threat, which debases this form of persuasion back to the level of the direct threat. This combination of tangible incentives and a direct threat is often described as the carrot and the stick concept. For example, the United States Government often uses this crude form of persuasion in its foreign affairs. Support our efforts against the war on terror and the United States will give you financial aid, don’t support us and we will put economic sanctions on your country and list you as a rogue nation.

Force, threats, coercion are all lower forms of persuasion and are not part of this program. Negotiation and tangible incentives are common forms of persuasion but also are not part of this program. In this program you will learn the more advanced principles of persuasion using nontangible incentives and more importantly conversion.

With nontangible incentives and conversion the results tend to be more permanent and the persuasive influence internalized. Examples of a nontangible incentives are; the feelings of self-esteem, eternal salvation or respect and admiration from others.

Conversion is the total acceptance by the other person to what it is you are pervading.    

The propositions included in this course of study are broken into four separate main topics; Preparation for Success, Assessing Your Objective, The Persuasion Strategy and finally The Realization Plan. The four main topics are broken into eight sessions of study. It is suggested that you do one session per week for a total of 8 weeks. This gives ample time to digest what you have studies, conduct the practical exercises and participate in the group learning online and the weekly live audio discussions.

So let us get started.

The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 1

Preparation for Success Part 1

Like everything else in life worth doing, the art of persuasion requires good planning and preparation. In the words of Confucius, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” The primary way to prepare you for becoming a successful persuasive individual is by obtaining knowledge. The kind of knowledge varies based on your preferences and on your objectives. But first, let me explain why it is so important to have knowledge when perfecting you persuasive skills. We all have heard the famous quote by Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is Power”. Let me add to that by saying “knowledge is power and power is influence”. To gain persuasive influence over someone else you are first going to have to build positive rapport (this will be explained in greater detail in session 2) with that person. And a key component to building positive rapport is being able to engage that person in good conversation. What topics are you currently able to converse about in an intelligence manner? What happens if your targeted person favors a topic that you have absolutely no knowledge about? A Loss of positive rapport is what usually happens as a result from a lack of knowledge and understanding. Now I am certainly not suggesting that anyone of us can know everything there is about every possible topic. So let’s simplify this and first break knowledge down into two categories; general knowledge and specific knowledge. General knowledge is the understanding of some aspects of a topic without being an expert on the subject matter of that topic. Specific knowledge on the other hand is the understanding enough about a topic to be considered as an expert on the subject matter of that topic. To carry on a good conversation with someone on a topic, that they perhaps are an expert on, you do not need specific knowledge yourself, but rather just a general knowledge of the subject. Let me give you an example.

   You are talking to your targeted individual and you learn that she is a lover of good wines. So much so that she has taken the time to attend multiple wine tasting events and even has studied the art of wine making. You however are a beer drinker. Let’s first demonstrate the wrong way to approach this.

She starts by saying “I have a real passion for good wine myself, what about you, what wines do you like?”

You reply by saying “I don’t like wine, I drink beer.”

Or even worse, you lie by saying “Oh, I like the red ones.”

With making the first error, by stating “I don’t like wine, I drink beer”, you have basically ended the conversation. With the second error, you have now put yourself in the predicament of being discovered as a phony and will lose all credibility and positive rapport.

On the other hand, with some general knowledge about wine you could have replied by saying “You know, I don’t really drink much wine and have never learned much about it. But I have heard people talking about how good Cabernet Sauvignon is. It is a particularly dry red, right?”

With this reply, or something similar, you have demonstrated honesty and, therefore, gaining the trust,  and, at the same time, opening the way for your target to carry on with the conversation on a topic that she is passionate about. She will more than likely enjoy the opportunity to share her knowledge about wine with you. You have been successful in several key aspects. First, you have built positive rapport by gaining her trust and allowing her to teach you what she knows about wine. Second, you have engaged your target in good conversation, thus providing the opportunity to make a better assessment of her (this will become more apparent in the next section “Assessing your Objective”).

I can’t stress enough the importance in the continued process of increasing your knowledge base. In practical terms Benjamin Franklin summed it up by saying “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Practical Exercise; Session 1

So as your first assignment as a practical exercise pick someone that you anticipate talking to in the near future and think of some topics that you believe they might be interested in and do some reading. Not too much though on any single topic. Read up just enough to gain a general knowledge on several likely topics rather than spend a lot of time on just one possible topic. Then the next time you are able to engage this person in a conversation practice using your new knowledge if one of the topics you prepared for comes up. You may need to lead the conversation to a topic that you decide on if they do not direct the conversation in any constructive way. You will find that you usually only need to make one or two intelligent comments on any given topic for the other person to respond in a positive way. If the individual demonstrates a passion for it, allow them to become your teacher. This will help build positive rapport with them.

Recommended Reading; Session 1

The study of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is your first reading assignment.


The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 2

Preparation for Success Part 2

I have mentioned the term positive rapport several times already. Positive rapport is one of the essentials to the art of persuasion. So let me clarify just what positive rapport is and what some of the basic methods are to obtain and maintain positive rapport. In my opinion you will not find a proper definition of rapport in a standard dictionary. Let me start with a definition from the medical field. “Confidence of a subject in the operator… with willingness to cooperate.” Confidence based on trust and credibility and a willingness to cooperate based of mutual agreement. To gain trust and credibility one needs a strong character. Aristotle stated that “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” Rapport does not necessarily mean friendship or even liking the other person. You may not particularly like a teacher that you have but if the teacher has credibility with you and can gain your trust and cooperation then that teacher has positive rapport. So if you desire to learn the art of persuasion start with developing your character as a trustworthy and respected person. Another important aspect of rapport is empathy. For the definition of empathy we can turn to a standard dictionary as in Merriam-Webster. “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past of present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” put in To more simplistic terms, act interested in what the other person has to say without being overly judgmental.

On the other hand rapport can be quickly lost by being too agreeable or too congenial. Al Pacino once said “The hardest thing about being famous is that people are always nice to you. You’re in a conversation and everybody’s agreeing with what you’re saying – even if you say something totally crazy. You need people who can tell you what you don’t want to hear.” When thinking of a particular person who you hope to influence also think on what type of rapport you plan to develop with them. This may be over a long period of time or in some circumstances extremely short. Some common types of rapport are; teacher/student, parental, friendship, professional, comrade, and charisma.

The teacher/student relationship can work both ways, the teacher can become the student and the student can become the teacher. If this type of rapport is developed you must allow yourself to be taught first and then in turn influence your teacher.

The parental type of rapport is especially powerful when attempting to influence someone’s behavior. A parent can be firm and even critical when the child is confident that the parent only has the child’s best interest in mind and still maintain positive rapport. Age is not necessarily a factor in developing a parental role with someone. You may be younger than the other person but more experience in some way.

Friendship is obvious enough.

When trying to build rapport with a new person or even a complete stranger it is a good idea to start off initially establishing professional rapport. Think of a time in your own life when you first met a teacher, lawyer, doctor or some other professional person. By that person acting neutral yet courteously towards you they initially established a professional rapport. From a professional stance that person could easily then transition to another rapport type if the circumstances call for it.

A comrade relationship can be a very powerful rapport building tool. Kids are often cautioned on peer pressure. And as adults were are all subject to the same influential powers of other. I am confident that military personnel will agree that comradery is a powerful form of persuasion. 

And then there is charisma. Wikipedia defines charisma as “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others, and/or a divinely conferred power or talent.” You either have it or you don’t. Can you develop charisma? Yes you can. The best way to become charismatic is by sincerely being interested in the other person. We are naturally flattered when someone acts genuinely interested in us. If you use flattery to build charismatic rapport, be cautious. First make sure the flattery you use is appropriate for the relationship you are trying to develop, that it is well received by the other person and don’t overdo it.  Too much may cause the other person to become suspicious and uncomfortable with you which will damage rapport rather than enhance it.

Practical Exercise; Session 2

Developing positive rapport with others does take practice. So as your next assignment think of someone that you know you disagree with on a particular subject. Get them in a conversation about the selected subject and use empathy when questioning them on their opinions and feelings about the subject. Prepare yourself by studying up on the topic and thinking of as many pros and cons as you can for both side of the argument. Try to include in the conversation not agreeing on some of their points but at the same time demonstrating understanding and empathy for their point of view. Also plan ahead for what type of rapport you anticipate developing with this person. This is a challenging assignment but once you master the ability to use these techniques you are well on the way of knowing how to build positive rapport with just about anyone.

Recommended Reading; Session 2

The Art of Connecting: How to Overcome Differences, Build Rapport, and Communicate Effectively with Anyone, by Claire Raines and Lara Ewing

The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 3

Assessing Your Objective Part 1

There are two parts to the assessment process. First assessing what it truly is that you want from the other person. And secondly assessing the other person’s motivations values and believes regarding your own objective. “Let one who wants to move and convince others first be convinced and moved themselves. If a person speaks with genuine earnestness the thoughts, the emotion and the actual condition of their own heart, others will listen because we all are knit together by the tie of sympathy.” In this quote by Thomas Carlyle we are brought to realize that in order to truly be persuasive with others we first must be honest with ourselves.

Don’t try to sell something you yourself would not buy.  And be sure that what you ask for is what you truly want.

For example; you decide to use your persuasive powers to gain a promotion at your job. The promotion is awarded to you however it requires that you relocate to a new city. You did not anticipate the need to relocate and this fact causes a great deal of conflict with your spouse and his or her job.

Along with the practical aspects of making sure you know what it is that you truly want there are the ethical aspects. The powers of persuasion are more powerful than any might of any other kind. There are myriads of examples in history of the persuasive powers being used by great historical figures only to lead them and their followers to destruction, Adolf Hitler being the best example of them all. In his own words Hitler admitted to this fact when he said “The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.” The powers of persuasion have been and are used by political, religious and business leaders every day and more often than not incorrectly. Without the considerations for the ethical aspects of this power the improper use of persuasion will usually result in a negative outcome for at least one of the parties involved. For this reason I must spend a sufficient amount of effort throughout this training on the topic of ethical use of the powers of persuasion. For now let me summarize by saying again don’t try to sell something you yourself would not buy.  And be sure that what you ask for is what you truly want.

 Once you have used introspection to determine what it truly is that you want from the other person now it is time to assess that other person. An in-depth assessment into another person’s motivations, desires, values and believes is critical to the success of any persuasive strategy. And for many who try to be persuasive this is the step that they fail to do right. First of all one must remember that the assessment process is ongoing from the time that you first select a targeted person and well after the persuasive strategy has been realized. Now there have been multiple studies on the different methods of questioning and an array of various processes that have been developed and promoted over the years regarding questioning someone for the purpose of gathering intelligence and/or assessing their motivations values and beliefs.   But most of these studies and processes tend to make one flawed error. They tend to focus on the subject as a science rather than an art form.  It is not my intent to develop or promote a systematic process that one must adhere to. But rather to share with you the principles of persuasion that you can then use to develop your own unique application of those principles. Let’s compare the art of persuasion to acting. You can attend all the acting classes you like but that does not mean that you will ever be able to act like Al Pacino. Only Al Pacino can act like Al Pacino does. You can however learn the principles of acting from others and combined with your own experiences develop yourself as a great actor in your own right.

 I will now share with you several key skills to successfully conduct a full assessment of another person. The skills include the ability to engage in directed conversation (elicitation), good listening skills, monitoring verbal and nonverbal communication, proper questioning principles and positive rapport.

A true artesian of persuasion will actually use all of the above skills continuously during the assessment process. But if I was to put them in order it would be as shown:



To engage in directed conversation means several things. First of all it goes back to what I talked about earlier regarding having the knowledge base to intelligently discuss the topics at hand. This is where additional preparation can pay off.  When dealing with a specific person you can research that person to better prepare you specific knowledge on topics that you know they are interested in. With the internet age upon us this is often too easy to accomplish. Researching open source intelligence provides many opportunities to get to know a person. Social networking sites, personal blogs and other online sites often will provide you with not only factual data about the person but insight into what they care about and value as well. This can greatly enhance your preparation to engage in good conversation with this person. Talk about what they are interested in first and then transition the conversation to the topic or topics that meet your objectives. In preparation you should actually plan on possible transition strategies from one topic to another based on logical links. When the conversation is engaged use these transition strategies to lead the conversation in a logical manner to the topic or topics that meet your objective. If they seem hesitant to talk about a specific topic revert back to a topic that they seem comfortable with and then try a different transition to your selected topic. Do not stay on a single topic too long. And don’t make your questioning on any specific topic too direct or intrusive. And finally try not to end the conversation on the topic that meets your objective but rather end it on a neutral topic that the other person is very interested in.

For example; let’s say that the topic that meets your object is to find out how the other person thinks and feels about hiring you to babysitting for him. This assessment will help you determine a persuasion strategy to persuade them to hire you in the near future. In preparation you have previous learned that the person does have children of their own. You also heard that this person recently obtained a new job that requires travel. And finally you also discovered that one of his children is involved in soccer. You begin the conversation asking the individual about their new job. When the discussion leads to the required travel you transition from his job to who watches the children when he is away. And you ask questions about what qualifications he looks for in a good babysitter. You then transition to the topic of soccer and engage him in a conversation about his child who plays soccer. You find that he has a passion for the game himself. From there you return to the babysitting topic and ask how his children like their current babysitter. You then transition the conversation back to soccer and the World Cup and end the conversation on that topic.

The example above was a simplified example of what the intelligence community refers to has elicitation. Otherwise, engaging in directed conversation based on the other person interest but at the same time guiding the conversation with smooth transitions to topics that meet your object without ever making it obvious to the other person of what your objects are. Upon completion of this assessment you now have a better idea of what persuasive strategy might get you the job.

Practical Exercise; Session 3

So for this practical exercise you are assigned to prepare for and engage in a conversation using the principles of good conversation and elicitation. Prepare by selecting your target, your object and what it is you want to learn regarding their feelings on the subject. Plan ahead for possible other topics of interest to the other person that can allow for a smooth transition to your selected topic. After the conversation you will need to ask your target what they think the primary topic of your discussion was. Using the example above if he replied that it was about soccer and at the same time you were able to get some feedback on his thoughts about him being a babysitter than you were successful. Remember to utilize the skills you developed from the first two exercises as well. It will become clear as you go on through the training that each exercise builds on the previous ones.

Recommended Reading; Session 3

The Human Skills: Elicitation and Interviewing, by Frank Stopa

The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 4

Assessing Your Objective Part 2

You have probably heard the term “good listening skills” all your life. More often than not however we think that we are practicing good listen skills when in fact we are not. The major obstacle to good listening is our own thoughts. When you bring to a conversation your own values, believes and motivations you will inevitably be detracted by your own thoughts while the other person is sharing theirs. To put it as plainly as I can, leave your own baggage behind. Go into to the conversation genuinely and totally interested in the other person’s points of view on the chosen topics. While listening to their comments try to identify any subtle or elusive statements. Often in conversation especially if the topic is of personal sensitivity we will often make elusive statements that only partially mean what we really want to say. A good listener will pick up on these statements and ask simple follow up questions to clarify the true meaning of the speaker. And I do mean simple unobtrusive questions such as “why do you say that?” or “why do you feel that way?” A simple inquisitive nonthreatening question is often all it takes to get the other person to elaborate on their true meaning.

What a person is saying however, is only part of the total communication process. There have been many studies on the percentage and effects of nonverbal communication. Regardless of a number percentage the effects of nonverbal communication are definitely an important part of any conversation. Below is a diagram showing an array of different actions of nonverbal communication.

There have been so many studies on nonverbal communications as well as plenty of explanations of the results of these studies that I am not going to attempt to recreate the wheel on this subject. But rather I will make this a study assignment for you to research on your own.

I will however comment on the importance of controlling nonverbal communications during your conversations and persuasive strategies. Many of try and many have failed when it comes to attempting to master their own nonverbal communications. Let me reiterate what I said before; don’t try to sell something you yourself would not buy. It is nearly impossible for anyone to completely control their own nonverbal communications and once discovered at a failed attempt to do so credibility is lost. Instead prepare yourself for success by conducting a through self-assessment on what it is you truly want and convincing yourself that it is the best thing for you and your target. Sincerity is the only sure way to control your own nonverbal communications. Once again character does prove to be a major component to the success in the art of persuasion. Therefor when you do study about nonverbal communications don’t think that your new found understanding of the subject will help you change or control your own but rather your new found understanding will be of great benefit when identifying the real meaning behind what others say, because they will have no better chance of controlling their nonverbal communications than you do. Yet you will have gained the advantage since you will be better able to identify the nonverbal messages that they are sending.

 Assessing Your Objective Part 3

Now let us explore the proper questioning methods used when conducting your assessment of others. First let’s discuss the types of questions to avoid. These include compound questions, negative questions and leading questions. Compound questions are asking two questions in one. For example you ask “do you prefer red or white wines?” the other person might answer simply “yah, sure”. With this answer it is unclear which question the person is answering. Negative questions are equally confusing. For example you ask “you don’t like me very much do you? The other person responds by answering “no”. No I do not like you are no I do like you. Which is it? Leading questions are not confusing but rather they are suggestive and also usually only require a yes and no answer. For example you ask “Is football your favorite sport? The person answers “yes”. Compare this to asking “What is your favorite sport? With the second question the other person is deciding on their own which of all the sports they know of is in fact their favorite. With the prior question you are suggesting to them that football is the favorite.  So, use one of the basic interrogatives;  

What, When, Who, Where, How and Why

These types of questions are direct and by nature solicit a narrative response. If you do get a short answer simply ask an appropriate follow up question to solicit more detail. For example you ask “Who is your favorite US president? The person answers “Teddy Roosevelt”. Follow Up by asking “Why” or “Why is he your favorite”. You are bound to get a mouth full. And in doing so you are more than likely going to gain some insight into the other person’s values and beliefs.

Let me state as a rule that there are times that leading questions are appropriate. Leading questions are appropriate for clarification purposes. For example you ask “How is your eye sight?” The response is “Not very good, I am near sighted”. It would make sense to follow up with the leading questions “Do you wear glasses?” Keep in mind the two of the categories of nonverbal communication are tone and voice inflection. So in other words it is how you ask the question that matters. It is pretty difficult to provide examples of this in written form, but I do provide examples in the audio presentations.

I previously discussed the principles of rapport building and empathy in session 2.

 Practical Exercises; Session 4

 One of the best ways to practice your listening skills is to watch interviews or similar events on TV and try to identify indirect statements made by the participants. Think to yourself what it might be that the person making such a statement was try to avoid actually saying. While listen to the interview do not think about your own opinions on the topic but rather be very neutral and objective. Concentrate only on what the person is actually saying and what they are not saying.

Learning to always ask proper questions takes practice. So as a practical exercise engage someone that you know well enough to trust and is willing to assist you. Explain to them what you are practicing and tell them that you are going to interview them on a selected topic. Explain that it is your goal to only ask questions that begin with a basic interrogative and that their job is to respond in a negative way anytime you ask a compound, negative or leading question. 


Recommended Reading; Session 4

As a reading assignment for a better understanding on good questioning skills look up the US Army Field Manual FM 2-22.3. Human Intelligence Collector Operations: Chapter 9 

What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People By Joe Navarro or The Definitive Book of Body Language: Why What People Say Is Very Different from What They Think or Feel, by Allen and Barbara Pease.

Active Listening 101: How to Turn Down Your Volume to Turn Up Your Communication Skills, by Emilia Hardman


The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 5

The Persuasion Strategy Part 1

Let’s begin with a review of the ancient Greek art of rhetoric. Plato stated that “Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men”. The Aristotle categorized the art of rhetoric or persuasion into three primary sorts; Logos, Pathos and Ethos. Logos being arguments based on logic or reason, Pathos being based on emotion and Ethos based on authority or character. Aristotle expressed his view that Logos or reasoning is the preferred method of persuasion. I would have to agree within him in theory however, in reality I would have to say that most people are more persuaded by emotion than they are by logic. John Dewey makes this observation is his famous quote “Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis.” The true artisan of persuasion, however, will use a combination of all three sorts in a single persuasive strategy. Combining emotion and logic backed with respected authority or character is extremely powerful in any persuasive approach. Normally your reasoning and credibility factors are going to support the emotional based arguments while credibility can also support your logical arguments. 



Before discussing how to use all of the three components together I will first elaborate on to use each of them separately.

But first I let me point out that even an experienced artisan of persuasion can make errors in judgment as to what persuasive strategy will work on any given person. So, after having done the preparation, achieved positive rapport and made a comprehensive assessment of the targeted person you decide on a strategy. Well what if you are wrong, what then? If you run a persuasive strategy that turns out to be incorrect it is very difficult to recover and continue. It in many cases means that you are done. So what is the solution? Don’t jump in with both feet right away. Test the waters first by asking a probing question that can help confirm your persuasive strategy before making committed statements. Let me give you an example.

Your objective is to persuade the other person not to drive after drinking at a nightclub. From your assessment you have learned that this person loves his brand new car and had invited a girl to the nightclub with him. He also truly believes that he can drive after having a few drinks just as well as when he is sober. You have decided to use the persuasive arguments of the risk of getting caught and getting a DUI combined with the embarrassment of being arrested in front of his new date and the risk of having his brand new car towed. You start your strategy by making the statement

 “You know if you get pulled over and arrested you are going to look like a fool in front of your new girlfriend”.

He then replies “I don’t care about her I brought her along because she offered to pay. She is my best friend’s ex. And she cheated on him! I could care less what she thinks.”

He then adds “Why are you so concerned about what she thinks”.

 You have now lost some rapport and even may have put yourself on the defensive. Had you started instead with a probing question such as

 “What do think your date’s reaction will be if you get pulled over?”

You could easily recover even after he replied as before. He would not likely have added the last statement “Why are you so concerned about what she thinks”, because you just asked a question rather than making a committed statement. You would now know that that aspect of your strategy is not going to work. You then ask another probing question

“What happens to your car if you get pulled over?”

And he replies with emotion “man they better not touch my car”

You then ask “who are you talking about”

He replies “the cops, or the tow truck driver, any of them.”

These responses are indications that his love of his car is the part of your strategy that probably will be successful.

Another huge benefit to asking suggestive questions to introduce your intended approach is that there is a chance that your target will actually take the leading question you asked and come to the conclusion that you had hoped for on their own. Or at least they will think that they came to the conclusion on their own. “People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others.”  Blaise Pascal

Let me now return to the three main forms of persuasion; Logos, Ethos and Pathos. Logical arguments are fairly easy to construct. Gather some facts that most people accept and use them to support your argument. The critical mistake that most people make when making a logical argument is that they rely on their own logic or reasoning. When attempting to persuade another person to a particular point of view you need to use the other person’s own logic and reason in your persuasive strategy not yours. This is why the assessment process is so important to complete before developing your strategy. In the assessment process you need to determine the mindset of the other person. What is logical to them and what are the bases for their reasoning. As an example let’s take on a very controversial subject; abortion versus pro life.

You are a devote Christian and by your reasoning have determined that the spirit of a human being enters the body at 18 days when the heart begins to beat. Your friend is 12 weeks pregnant and is considering having an abortion. She is not a Christian and does not believe in the existence of spirits. You have questioned her on her feelings and beliefs on the subject and she has made several key statements regarding the abortion.

“I want to find a doctor I can trust”, “My boyfriend does not want any children” and finally she said “If I am going to do this I want to do it before it gets too late.”  

These are three important leads into what her real motivations and reasoning on the subject are. Her concerns about the doctor and her statement about “gets too late” lead you to believe that she is worried that they may be complications. You prepare by researching possible complications at her stage in the pregnancy and the reputations of the doctors in the area. This allows you to use a logical argument based on her reasoning that an abortion at this stage in the pregnancy may be too risky and that there is a history of negative physical and emotional consequences. Your persuasive strategy is based on her logic not yours and therefore as a much better chance of success. You could have debated with her extensively about how the fetus already as a spirit and how it would be a sin in the eyes of God and all you would have accomplished is loss of rapport. In fact it is likely that by using your reasoning instead of hers in the persuasive attempt you may actually encouraged her to go through with the abortion.  I have not addressed the third comment in the above scenario “My boyfriend does not want any children” yet because it deals with the emotional rather than logical motivations. I will return to it when discussing Pathos. Another key point to remember when developing logical persuasion is that logic does not necessarily mean facts. A person’s logic is based on many things. How they were raised, their educational background, personal experiences and so on. What is logical to them but may be completely illogical to someone else. If you are going to be success at the art of persuasion you are going to have to learn how to think like others even when it may be totally foreign to your own reasoning.

Practical Exercises; Session 5

Changing statements into probing questions. Look up a speech or something similar from someone trying to be persuasive. A political speech would work well. Identify persuasive statements given in this speech and write them down. After the speech is over review your written statements and translate them into probing questions which will maintain the objective of the statement without making the commitment. Practice how you could recover from the probing questions if the responses to the questions were negative.

One of the best exercises I can think of to help you develop this skill is to select several topics that you are very opinionated on. The more passionate you are on the topic the better. Then develop a debate on each topic 180 degrees opposite your own opinions. Do some research into each topic first to discover facts that can support your reversed logic.    

The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 6

The Persuasion Strategy Part 2

Ethos can come into two primary forms, Character or authority. Character usually being your own. As I stated before your own character has a powerful influence on how others view you as a creditable person.  Can the person you are trying to persuade confided in you? Do they trust your judgment? Are you a reliable source in their decision making process? The answers to these questions are based on your own character, or at least how the other person perceives your character. One powerful tool using your own character is the concept of confidentiality. How often have you opened up to someone else after they used a phase like “just between you and me” or “nobody else know this”. Confidentiality not only builds trust but it also instills a sense of unity and exceptionalism with the person you are trying to win over. This kind of persuasive influence works well with most rapport types. However, note that if you develop this aspect of your relationship with someone you can never in anyway betray that trust or confidentiality. Once you do your character will be tarnished and all rapport with that person lost. And word of your betrayal will spread quickly damaging your character reputation with even more people.

What are some other aspects of your character besides trust that can make or break your ability to influence others? Honor, fairness, integrity and reliability are universally agreed aspects of a strong character. I could go on and on this subject but instead let me sum it up by saying that in order to be a good artist of persuasion it is the opposite of what many people think regarding the ethical and moral aspects to persuasion. Trickery, deceit, lies and mistrust are not tools of a true artisan of persuasion. Manipulation, yes, but only as it benefits the other person as well as meets your objective. In psychology they refer to this principle as being altruistic egotism, or in laymen terms a win/win result. Keep in mind when I discuss the importance of character in the art of persuasion it is the based on the perception of the person or persons you are trying to influence. What easier way is there for others perceive that you have good character than to develop good character in yourself? Good character is very difficult to fake.

The other form of ethos is the use of an authority figure besides you in your persuasive arguments. Examples of this type of authority are “God does not approve of what you are doing”, “Your father approves of what I am telling you to do”, “According to the Dr. Smith, an expert in the field, you have made an error in your research” and “The best athletes in the world do it this way”. 

Let us return to the abortion scenario and apply ethos to that persuasive strategy. Early in the conversation you say to the pregnant friend

“You have known me long enough to know how I feel about abortions but this is not about me this is about what is best for you”.

With a statement like this you are staying true to your own principles yet at the same time expressing empathy for her. Also when you present your findings regarding the risk involved let’s say that you quote a prominent liberal expert on the subject to support your arguments, someone that your friend is aware of and respects. These two additions have now added the use of Ethos to your strategy along with Logos.

Practical Exercise; Session 6

Coming up with an effective and realistic practical exercise to have one develop good character is not easy. But try this. Read stories in the news or from a similar source about things people did or said that that resulted in negative publicity. Think to yourself what could they had done or said different under the same circumstances to reverse the outcome resulting in positive publicity.  

The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 7

The Persuasion Strategy Part 3

Of the three sorts of rhetoric or persuasion Pathos is the most wide-ranging and the most powerful if you agree with John Dewey’s statement. Emotion comes in many forms but let’s start with the five primary emotions used in persuasion; love, hate, pride, futility and fear.

I have spent many years of my life training government personnel on the principles of interrogation based the Army Field Manual 2-22.3. I am not teaching my readers to be interrogators. I am teaching you how to be artisan in persuasion. There are similarities but also significant differences. First of all there is a difference in the objective. The only objective of an interrogator is to gain intelligence or rather gain the cooperation of their detainee to tell them intelligence. Your objective is to persuade someone to cooperate with you on some issue or to provide you with something, although that something may be in the form of information. One major difference is that an interrogator is dealing with a person that is detained, there by being restricted in their actions. You are going to be attempting to persuade someone that is free to leave the discussion at any time. A bit more challenging. One similarity is the fact that emotions are the most often used approaches. A quote by Madeleine Albright goes “The best book, like the best speech, will do it all – make us laugh, think, cry and cheer – preferably in that order.”  Let me share with you some very important points regarding the use of emotions that I have learned over the years.  First of all if you ever plan to create a fear in someone as part of your strategy to get their attention, be sure that you have a solid plan to afterwards relieve that fear as part of your persuasive argument. Same goes for pride. If you plan to instill a feeling of shame or guilt in someone be sure to afterwards instill a way for them to regain their pride and honor as part of your persuasive strategy. When dealing with futility provide hope. I strongly discourage the use of the emotion of hate in any persuasive strategy you develop. It may work for an interrogator but is usually not appropriate for an ethical persuasive argument. Love is the easiest and most productive of all the emotions to apply in a persuasive strategy. Use love as often as you can.

But before you use any emotion first you need to verify what the other person is emotional about. Henry Winkler said “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” Do not assume that something you are naturally emotional about equates to the other person. Ask them what they are emotional about. There are times that you can do this quite bluntly and then there are times that you need to do so with subtle finesse. Examples of the direct approach are “How does that make you feel?” and then follow up with “Why?” or “What is it that you really care about?” and again follow you with that most important of interrogatives “Why?” Surprisingly most people are more than eager to share their feeling with others when approached the right way. Again it comes down to having and maintaining that positive rapport. Examples of more subtle ways to ask someone how they feel are “What do you think about the news story on…?” or “Did you hear about…?”  (Yes that is a leading question. As I stated earlier there are times that leading questions are useful.) Again if they express an emotional response, be sure to follow up for more details like saying “Why do you say that?” It all sound so simple does is not. Well it is but at the same time it is difficult to master because everything you say has a purpose and is part of an overall strategy. There is one more important aspect of using emotion in your persuasive strategy. Once you are confident that you approach will work and you have received verbal and/or nonverbal feedback from the other person that it is working, like a simple nod of the head, you then reach the point that it is time to go all out and stop asking just questions but actually use all you persuasive rhetoric to win your appeal. And when running an emotional approach you must express the emotions yourself. At this stage of the persuasive strategy you are equating your skills in persuasion very much as an actor or actress does in the climatically scene of a movie.

I promised earlier that I would return to the abortion scenario to address the comment by the pregnant friend, who will now call Mary, regarding the boyfriend not wanting children. This statement is a good example of when someone says one thing but may mean to say something entirely different. I would follow up on this statement with the question

“What about you, do you ever want to have children?”

If she answers with the positive response “yes, I would love to have children someday, just not sure this is the right time” then it is more than likely that the boyfriend has been persuading her to have the abortion. You now have an emotional aspect to add to the previous strategies of reasoning and authority. By combining all three sort of persuasions the strategy now becomes much more powerful the three arguments alone. For example it may end like you saying

“Look, Mary, I want the best thing for you. You know that there are risks involved with any abortion. Risk to your health and to your emotional wellbeing. Remember what I told I found out when I read what Dr. Smith wrote. You need to decide what matters to you not what your boyfriend wants you to do. If you decided to have the baby would he even support you, and honor your decision? Does he really care about your feelings? You will be a great mother, I know you will be.”

In this example all three persuasive powers are used; Logos (the risk of the operation), Ethos (the authority of the Doctor) and Pathos (Mary’s own feelings of wanting children combined with doubts if her boyfriend is the right guy for her.)

Practical Exercise; Session 7

You have now reached the point combining and implementing everything discussed so far all in one exercise. Make this one real. First select what your objective is and who you are going to persuade to do something for you. Do the research needed to meet your objective, decided on the type of rapport that you plan to establish with this person, conduct a thorough assessment of this person by first researching what you can find about them and then by asking the appropriate assessment questions based your objective. Centered on your research and the assessment develop a persuasive strategy using all of the three powers of persuasion; Logos, Ethos and Pathos. 

Recommended Reading; Session 7

As a reading assignment for a better understanding on the use of emotional persuasive strategies look up the US Army Field Manual FM 2-22.3. Human Intelligence Collector Operations: Chapter 8.  

The Secret Art of Persuasion Session 8

The Realization Plan

Hopefully by now you have practiced your persuasive skills multiple times utilizing the exercises provided and perhaps even came up with some of your own ideas on how to better learn the art of persuasion. But there is one more main topic to be explored before saying the process is complete. Once you have accomplished your objective, what then? Is the person that you persuaded someone that you are going to have an ongoing relationship with or are they someone you do not anticipate ever seeing again? Was what you gained from this person temporary or enduring?  After convincing this person to do something for you is there anything you need to do as follow up to support them and/or       re-enforce their decision?  These are all questions that should be address in planning your overall persuasive strategy rather than waiting until after your objective has been achieved.

Also in the realization plan you need to review the ethical aspects of the outcome. Was the outcome what you had anticipated? Is there any form of buyer’s remorse, for you or the other person? How did the outcome benefit the other person? How did you benefit? Answering all of these questions will help you to honestly evaluate the success of your persuasive strategy and determine if next time you need to do things differently.

Practical Exercise; Session 8

So, to complete the process look back at the pervious practical exercise in which you implemented all of the principles of the persuasion into one attempt and write down the answers to the above questions. In addition write an after action review on your performance. What went well and why? What did not go so well and why? What would you do different if you could repeat the exercise? 

Follow UP after completion of all 8 Sessions

As I suggested in the introduction, participate in the group discussions on the website. Share your own experiences with other participants and listen to theirs. Participate in the live audio sessions when offered, during the live audio been open and forthcoming.

Mastering the art of persuasion is a continuous learning experience. We encourage you to join us in this venture. Your completion of this course is just the beginning in your journey to becoming an artisan of persuasion. On our web site we will continue to offer updated information, lessons learned and an open and honest forum for you to participate in.

A few words of wisdom to take with you;

When Confucius was asked what are the five things required for virtue, he replied:"Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. If
you are grave, you will not be treated with disrespect. If you are
generous, you will win all. If you are sincere, people will repose
trust in you. If you are earnest, you will accomplish much. If you are
kind, this will enable you to employ the services of others.”
Confucius also cautioned:"He who requires much from himself and little
from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment."
Other great quotes to make you think:
“The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.” Buddha

“Eloquent speech is not from lip to ear, but rather from heart to heart.” William Jennings Bryan

”To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” Nicolaus Copernicus 

Truth is, I'll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candour.” Tom Hanks

“We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.”  Joyce Meyer

 “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”  Benjamin Franklin

“Those that will not hear must be made to feel.”  German Proverb

“If you can't get people to listen to you any other way, tell them it's confidential.”  Proverb

“To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them.”  Saint Thomas Aquinas Type your paragraph here.

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