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Understand Yourself


Techniques Persuasion 101 > Understand Yourself

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When you are thinking about persuading other people, it can be very helpful if you can take time to understand yourself and your motivation. If you can do this, you will be better able to persuade.

Four key and deep factors to understand are:

  • Beliefs: What do you belief about yourself? What you need? The other person? And what else? Keep asking 'why' and you may uncover key factors that will motivate you to act in certain ways.
  • Models: What are the lenses through which you perceive the world? How do you simplify to make sense?
  • Values: These are the rules of life you use, including what is right and wrong, how you can and should behave (or not), and what priorities you should put on things. These will shape how you approach the persuasion, including how ethical (or not) you will be.
  • Preferences: The ways you choose over other things. These can help explain how some people are different to others. Knowing your own style can be very helpful.

In this consider what it is you exactly want from the interaction and why this is so. What are you really seeking? Why?

Also consider external forces on you, for example pressures from home, work, friends, the law and so on. This includes what you seek and how you seek it. Many of our actions are driven by what other people want. Understanding this can make our persuasive choices much clearer.


In personal reflection about wanting to ask a woman on a date, a man thinks about how he really feels about her, how he should behave on the date and what impression he wants to create.

A sales person builds self-confidence (and consequently engenders confidence in others) by knowing herself deeply. To help this, she undergoes a set of personality tests and reflects on the findings in order to know and accept herself better.


Of course understanding yourself is a lifetime's work and few of us get close to this. Yet when you are seeking to persuade, it can still be helpful to pause and wonder what you want from the persuasion. This in itself does not need much understanding, but when you ask 'why?' (especially repeatedly), you may find you very quickly get into the detail of your own psychological makeup. This can create insights that change how you go about the persuasive process.

See also

Culture, Identity, Motivation, Power


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