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Seven Persuasion Styles


Techniques General Persuasion > Articles > Seven Persuasion Styles

Parent | Child | Friend | Logician | Bully | Idealist | Negotiator | See also


There are many different ways to persuade, yet we tend to fall into one or few of these, based on the context, our habits and our preferences. We also may well use several of these styles at various times, including within the same persuasive context.


The parent acts from a position of natural superiority. They can assert something as fact and do not expect that it will be challenged. They assume that they will be trusted.

The parent mode is also used by managers and people higher up the social hierarchy. Children may also try using this, especially when they are teenagers and are seeking the independence of adulthood.

Underlying belief: I know. You do not know.


The child is physically and functionally powerless and so pleads, whines, wheedles and otherwise seeks to stimulate a desire to help. If this does not work they may just wear down the other person through low-grade irritation. Adults do this sometimes in play and sometimes when they know of no better method.

People who are victims may also adopt the child position, seeking a rescuer who will save them. This can become a habitual position when it allows people to avoid responsibility. It is one of the dilemmas of growing up to step beyond this, both in persuasion and in other parts of life.

Underlying belief: You have a duty to support me.


The friend simply asks or demonstrates a need and expects you to help. What can be requested depends on the level of trust and liking within the relationship. Even when talking to a stranger, a person taking this approach will act in a friendly manner and assume that being nice will get them what they want.

The friend position is typical of adult relationships, where each acts as an equal and is ready to help the other in many situations in the assumption that the assistance will some day be reciprocated.

Underlying belief: Friends help one another.


The logician sees the word through the eyes of cold reason, that there is cause and effect and incontrovertible evidence. They work on the principle that if you explain the logic of an argument, that others will agree. They find emotional appeals unreasonable, irrelevant and often (paradoxically) irritating.

We all have a need to explain, and consequently often consider our arguments as logical, though they are seldom completely so.

Underlying belief: Everyone accepts truth.


The bully works on the principle of strength and power over reason and fairness. Their implied transaction with others is 'Do as I say or else I will hurt you'. Bullies have limited concern for the emotional well-being of the other person and may even gain pleasure in the sense of control they gain. Bullying methods may also be due to the bully lacking skills in other, more socially acceptable persuasive methods.

Although bullying is an emotionally charged word, the principle is remarkably common, especially at low levels where there is an implied threat and occasional angry outbursts. In daily life, bullying methods are not always unkind and may be based on a desire for rapid agreement.

Underlying belief: Might is right.


The idealist typically has a black-and-white, polarized view of the world, where there is one, perfect solution to any situation. In persuasion, they cling to their ideal and see all other arguments as unworthy. They typically argue by repeating their position and asserting that other views are wrong.

While the world is really far from ideal, the idealist wins an argument through the passion they show for their ideal and the sneaking suspicion by others that the idealist may actually be right.

Underlying belief: What I believe must be right.


The negotiator sees persuasion as a system of give and take, where final agreement may be far from any initial position. Their principal method is to offer exchanges, including concessions, such that both they and the other side settle for an agreement that is acceptable to both.

In practice, we all often negotiate, particularly in social and work contexts where it is normal to do so. It is also often possible to negotiate in situations where we might not otherwise negotiate, including in retail stores and job interviews.

Underlying belief: Exchange leads to agreement.

See also

Berrien's Persuasion Tools Model, Three Types of Persuasion, Negotiation, Argument

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