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Persuasion principles


Much of persuasion and other forms of changing minds is based on a relatively small number of principles. If you can understand the principles, then you can invent your own techniques. It thus makes sense to spend time to understand these principles (persuaded yet?).

  • Alignment: When everything lines up, there are no contradictions to cause disagreement.
  • Amplification: Make the important bits bigger and other bits smaller.
  • Appeal: If asked nicely, we will follow the rules we have made for ourselves.
  • Arousal: When I am aroused I am full engaged and hence more likely to pay attention.
  • Association: Our thoughts are connected. Think one thing and the next is automatic.
  • Assumption: Acting as if something is true often makes it true.
  • Attention: Make sure they are listening before you try to sell them something.
  • Authority: Use your authority and others will obey.
  • Bonding: I will usually do what my friends ask of me, without negotiation.
  • Closure: Close the door of thinking and the deal is done.
  • Completion: We need to complete that which is started.
  • Confidence: If I am confident, then you can be confident.
  • Conformance: People are driven to obey rules.
  • Confusion: A drowning person will clutch at a straw. So will a confused one.
  • Consistency: We like to maintain consistency between what we think, say and do.
  • Contrast: We notice and decide by difference between two things, not absolute measures.
  • Daring: If you dare me to do something, I daren't not do it.
  • Deception: Convincing by trickery.
  • Dependence: If you are dependent on me, I can use this as a lever to persuade you.
  • Distraction: If I distract your attention, I can then slip around your guard.
  • Easy: I like things which are easy (and not things which are difficult).
  • Evidence:  I cannot deny what I see with my own eyes.
  • Exchange: if I do something for you, then you are obliged to do something for me.
  • Experience: I cannot deny what I experience for myself.
  • Fragmentation: Break up the problem into agreeable parts.
  • Framing: Meaning depends on context. So control the context.
  • Harmony: Go with the flow to build trust and create subtle shifts.
  • Hurt and Rescue: Make them uncomfortable then throw them a rope.
  • Interest: If I am interested then I will pay attention.
  • Interruption: Break the flow.
  • Investment: If I have invested in something, I do not want to waste that investment.
  • Involvement: Action leads to commitment.
  • Logic: What makes sense must be true.
  • Objectivity: Standing back decreases emotion and increases logic.
  • Obligation: Creating a duty that must be discharged.
  • Ownership: I am committed to that which I own.
  • Passion: Enthusiasm is catching.
  • Peer Pressure: We do what we think others want us to do.
  • Perception: Perception is reality. So manage it.
  • Persistence: In all things, persistence pays.
  • Pleading: Asking with attitude.
  • Positivity: Use positive methods.
  • Priming: Prior informational influence.
  • Pull: Create attraction that pulls people in.
  • Push: I give you no option but to obey.
  • Repetition: If something happens often enough, I will eventually be persuaded.
  • Scarcity: I want now what I may not be able to get in the future.
  • Similarity: We trust people who are like us or who are similar to people we like.
  • Simplicity: Simple means easy to understand and agree.
  • Social Compliance: The pressure to conform.
  • Social Proof: When uncertain we take cues other people.
  • Specificity: People fill in the gaps in vague statements.
  • Substitution: Put them into the story.
  • Surprise: When what happens is not what I expect, I must rethink my understanding.
  • Tension: I will act to reduce the tension gaps I feel.
  • Threat: If my deep needs are threatened, I will act to protect them.
  • Trust: If I trust you, I will accept your truth and expose my vulnerabilities.
  • Uncertainty: When I am not sure, I will seek to become more certain.
  • Understanding: If I understand you, then I can interact more accurately with you.
  • Unthinking: Go by the subconscious route.

See also

Principles of war

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