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Concealing Persuasion


Techniques General persuasion > Articles > Concealing Persuasion

Political blunders | Mostly yes | Planted evidence | Science and facts | See also


In some situations there is a significant risk of other people realizing that you are acting to persuade. In such contexts it is common to use deliberate methods to conceal the appearance of being a practiced persuader.

Political blunders

Politicians sometimes act in deliberately awkward ways, perhaps not looking at their audience when they might be expected to give a long hard stare or fumbling with pens and microphones. In this way they signal that they are not 'acting' in slick and powerful ways, but are normal, everyday folks, just like you and me. This is often done in small ways and at relatively unimportant events. When they want to appear powerful and in control, they quickly switch on the charisma and speak clearly and deliberately.

Mostly yes

People who succeed in business by agreeing with the boss are often known as 'yes men' (or 'yes people' these days). However, bosses are not stupid and if their people are always agreeing with them, they may reject their company in favor of others. Successful yes-men thus disagree a certain amount of time. A further trick they use is notice and agree when the boss is seeking confirmation, and to disagree only on less important matters.

Planted evidence

Another way that concealment is done is by planting evidence that the other person finds that shows you to be innocent and of limited capability -- and certainly unlikely to be very clever in your persuasive attempts. Such deception is common in wartime where persuading the enemy that you are weak and unsophisticated can give significant strategic advantage.

Science and facts

One method used by advertisers to persuade us that they are not just flannelling us is to use facts, figures and scientific proofs to demonstrate that they are not just trying to make a quick buck from us. Phrases such as 'the appliance of science' (Zanussi) are even embedded into brand taglines.

Politicians also are very fond of their facts and the effective ones have data to back up every assertion. The fact that the data may be unscientifically derived is not discussed, of course. Even when something is asserted as fact without supporting evidence we are often more persuaded if it is presented ambivalent.

See also


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