Social scientists estimate that each of us is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of persuasive messages per day. Media messages play a large part, but aren’t the whole story. The messages of daily interaction are equally important. Every day we encounter small-scale, usually low-stakes persuasive messages, designed to influence our attitudes and behaviors, even though we don’t always label them as such. Some of those messages we deflect or ignore. Others get through and are successful, sometimes despite our own best intentions. Your success as a communicator, a sustainable community development (SCD) practitioner, leader, or as a community builder, is directly related to the appropriateness and the effectiveness of the persuasive messages you send out. If all this is true, if persuasion is a natural and inevitable part of the communication process, we might choose to learn how to get better at it.
Exactly how does a practitioner apply principles of persuasion in an SCD project? Try visualizing a bridge on which your target person or audience stands. The left side of the bridge represents no knowledge of or interest in your issue; the right side represents the desired action – that is, your goal. Some intermediate markers along the bridge are attention, understanding, and intent. Your target person may be anywhere on the bridge. Your task as persuader is to move that person along the bridge toward your goal – gradually if needed, but no slower than necessary. You may want to move them from no knowledge to attention or from attention to understanding or from understanding to intent, or from intent to action; whatever the case may be. Using principles of persuasion effectively and with integrity can accomplish your goals to create and maintain healthy sustainable communities.
There are numerous different kinds of principles of persuasion and the personality of a practitioner using these principles will certainly influence how and which may be employed under certain circumstances. The particular persuasion principles you should use will be determined by the nature of your particular circumstances. More specifically, they will be determined by your particular goal, by your particular audience, and by the persuasive resources you have at your disposal. For example, if you want someone to sign a petition, that may call for one type of persuasive approach, but, if you want the same person to volunteer for your cause, or to write a big check, that may require something else. Similarly, it will make a difference if you want to convince one sympathetic person instead of one hundred indifferent ones; or if your campaign budget is five figures, compared to two figures, or no figures at all. Since each persuasion situation is truly different, it makes sense to understand each situation well and to analyze it carefully before you plunge in. Then you can plan your effort in advance; that is immeasurably important.
While your specific persuasive tactics will almost always vary from occasion to occasion, there are, nevertheless, general guidelines that will apply to a very large number of persuasion situations, both written and oral. Below are some of them. Not everyone will apply to your setting, nor is it necessary to use every one that does, but, more often than not, when these guidelines are used thoughtfully, your persuasive attempt is more likely to be successful:
- Know your facts.
- Know your audience.
- Express the similarities between you and your audience.
- Utilize opinion leaders.
- Make a strong opening.
- Get to the point.
- Offer a benefit supporting your position.
- Inoculate your audience against counter-arguments they may hear from the other side or create for themselves.
- Ask for an action step.
- Make the action step clear.
- Make the action step simple.
- Have a variety of action steps available.
- Obtain a commitment to take the action step.
- Thank the target person or audience.
It pays off to learn more about persuasion because it will help you become more successful at achieving your goals. It’s no more complicated than that. There’s also an unstated assumption behind this reasoning: there are tested principles of persuasion that can be both learned and put to good use. It’s surely true that all of us already know something about persuasion and how to persuade others; some of us are already quite talented at it. In fact, it would be hard to become a fully functioning adult without knowing how to persuade others at least some of the time. Persuading and being persuaded is part of being a member of society. But, persuasion is also a learned skill. And, like any skill, one can improve with instruction and practice.
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Blooming Beach Cactus
Blooming Beach Cactus