This unit talks about foundation in Persuasion

What is Persuasion in Public Speaking?

According to Perloff (2003), persuasion can be defined as “…a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people to change their attitudes or behaviors regarding an issue through the transmission of a message in an atmosphere of free choice.” In other words, in public speaking, persuasion is a method of getting someone to do, believe or accept something by means of the words you use. It involves reasoning with the listener, using sound arguments or a compelling entreaty to persuade.

In contrast, manipulation involves controlling or influencing a person or group of people through unfair or unscrupulous means. In the simplest terms, persuasion is to get what you want through the use of words. Persuasion always benefits both the persuader and the persuaded. Manipulation only benefits the manipulator; some think that persuasion is a bad thing. Actually, it can be positive, and in more ways that you would imagine. Persuasion is not the negative kind of manipulation that goes on in the world around us. Manipulation does not create lasting relationships. Many aspects of manipulation are a part of persuasion. Manipulation will always eventually fail. Persuasion will last. Manipulation is always bad.

Persuasion follows a specific pattern of processes, methods and tactics that will help you to help others. True persuasion is ethical, honest, truth and elicits the persuasion criteria that is hard wired into our brains. By learning how to persuade others, you can experience a simple truth. The sooner you help everyone else get what they want, the sooner you will get what you want. To master persuasion will require continuous practice. The difference between persuasion and manipulation mostly lies within you. Your intent is what makes the difference.

Persuasion usually results in long lasting relationships. Persuasion is usually about gaining agreement and support. It is about creating a common ground where you and others can come together in purpose of thought. To become an effective persuader will require taking the time to learn how people make decisions. You will have to look at how you persuade and where you need to make changes and improvements. Where you need to review the techniques and how to review them to get the best results.

Relationship Based Persuasion

In their book The Art of Woo G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa describes a four step approach to strategic persuasion. They explain that persuasion means to win others over, not to defeat them. Thus it is very important to be able to see the topic from different angles in order to anticipate the reaction of others to a proposal.

Step 1: Survey your situation. This step includes an analysis of the situation of the persuader, his goals and the challenges he faces in his organisation.

Step 2: Confront the five barriers. There are five obstacles that pose the greatest risks to a successful influence encounter: relationships, credibility, communication mismatches, belief systems, interest and needs.

Step 3: Make your pitch. People need solid reason to justify a decision, yet at the same time many decisions are taken on the basis of intuition. This step also deals with presentation skills.

Step 4: Secure your commitments. In order to safeguard the long-time success, it is vital to deal with politics at the individual and organisational level.

Persuasion as a Process of Communication

What is a process? A process is a series of actions or events. This means that communication has no fixed beginning or ending. As the participants express, interpret and reply to each other’s messages, the process develops. When we say that persuasion is a process of communication, we imply that without communication, persuasion is impossible. It also means that persuasion is a dynamic, on-going process that includes the expression and interpretation of messages. From the foregoing discussion, we can postulate that persuasion is a process of communication in which a communicator succeeds in voluntarily forming, sustaining or changing the attitudes or behaviour of one recipient or a group of recipients, in accordance with what the communicator intends by his or her message. It is important to also state that persuasion can be used to sustain or strengthen existing attitudes or behaviour, or to encourage recipients to form attitudes and behaviour. For example, advertisements for banking institutions which advertise new services or lower rates not only try to persuade people to become clients of the institution (change), but also try to persuade existing clients to stay with them (reinforcing).

Persuasive Communication: The Historical Context

Communication as a field of academic study became established at universities in the western world during the 20th century. However, a systematic study of communication can be traced to classical Greeks (between the fourth and fifth centuries BC). Their focus was on the study of oratory – the creation and delivery of spoken messages.

Source:National Open University of Nigeria

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