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The many faces of persuasion
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 01/18/2010

Nutcracker Coaxing is to persuasion as coercion is to bullying.

Persuasion is a tool to get others to do your bidding. It can be done at work through legitimate forms. It is seen in sales. Persuasion turned malevolent transforms into bullying. It is the more subtle sibling of force or intimidation.

Recently, I attended a time share presentation and I saw persuasion in action. I will disclaim here that sales is a very important aspect of our economy. I do not denigrate the process. It is crucial in the scheme of things. The consumer, after all, can say “no” at any time.

During the initial part of the sales presentation that I attended, I laid my cards on the table for the sales person. I remarked that I am interested only in the discount tickets for the local attractions. I stated that I did not intend to purchase a time share. The sales person was kind and seemed to understand this, asking only that I listen.

I did listen. And I was pleased at all of the forms of mild persuasion that the sales person utilized. I heard a variety of tactics: investment in future, family values, I am like you, it is foolish not to own a time share when you would otherwise rent. Also, no less than three other sales people came into the presentation as my resistance seemed as solid as before. The price dropped with the appearance of each additional team member. All the while, the urgency to buy rose.

Isn't any endeavor a bit like this? Can't we look at corrections and see the same things? Let’s peel back a few layers of this strange onion of persuasion.

Investment in future – Some offenders and unscrupulous colleagues will try to sway your decision in many matters by convincing you that your actions now will benefit you later. If you do “A” for me (despite its prohibited nature), I will benefit you by performing “B” for you later. This is a quid pro quo, but one that you have to initiate.

Family values – This tactic is based on flattery. You may receive a lecture of how to maintain good family relations as a prelude to further manipulation. The schemer will try to paint you as a good family person, even proclaiming you a rarity in these troubled times. And as you soak in these validations of your behavior, the persuader analyzes your body language and the level of acceptance of the compliments.

I am like you – Common ground means common interests. Another prelude to further manipulation rests on the tactic of “I am like you”. This is another validation tactic. It especially impacts those with an unhealthy opinion of themselves. Narcissists beware!

Subtle persuasion can be done in teams and over time. I mentioned earlier that no less than three other sales people came into the presentation as my polite resistance to buy continued. Perhaps they were selected to match my buying personality. Corrections staff must ask themselves if they are buying something that they do not wish to purchase when a parade of persuaders approach with the same request. With policy and procedure in mind, it is instructive to analyze the different nuances of each salesperson. Of course, it is even better to report the different sales pitches to colleagues.

In the end, I enjoyed my discount tickets. And I do feel this I earned them with my time. It was an excellent education that I applied to my work life. One might say that I allowed the sales people to get into my head. But I allowed that in order to analyze their tactics. When you think of destination intimidation, think also of the more subtle forms such as persuasion.

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  1. mr.fraki on 01/28/2010:

    Persuasion is found where ever you go in the world. Love, friendship, family, work, sales, and religion has forms of persuasions. You will benefit if you perform this action for me. Consumers have to understand the difference between a good deals and scams. This artical made me think about the different ways people use persuasions. Having a positive attitude makes a great diffence in sales. Making customers feel like they are friends with the salesperson gives the customer that personal connection. Having this positive connection makes the customer want to return. In corrections persuasion is more manipulation in having control over the clients. This manipulation goes both ways through the bars. does "im like you" apply in the correctional system?

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