Persuasion: The art of influencing people (3rd ed)
by James Borg
2010 Pearson Education Limited
ISBN: 978 0 273 73416 1
This book has the word PERSUASION emblazoned across a bright red cover: it’s persuasive from the get-go.
I chose this book to review because the principles of persuasion are essential to effective communication, and effective communication is essential for transformation. For example, we need to persuasively share painstakingly-developed improvements to turn them into useful, well-used innovations.
The fact is, we communicate to influence, not merely to inform – so effective communication is influential communication – and this well-structured book directly addresses that reality.
The coverage is thorough (which explains its length – 292 pages) but not overdone. Borg deftly explains each principle and technique from more than one angle, thereby illustrating how to be persuasive to a wide audience. There are bullet-point lists, easily-digestible prose, transcripts of conversations, cartoons, the odd diagram and, at the end of each of the book’s 10 chapters, a ‘coffee break’ quiz to help you cement what you’ve learned.
And what will you learn from this valuable book?
The three key gems relate to the nature of persuasiveness, the components of persuasiveness, and the nature of audiences.
The nature of persuasiveness
Persuasiveness is a process – ‘to take people from point A to point B’ – it is not a statement or assertion. The process requires you to display three qualities.
The components of persuasiveness
Persuasiveness is a three-ball juggling act. You don’t necessarily need all the balls at the same height, but you need them all in the air at the same time. And the three balls?
- Pathos – emotional appeal, fair-mindedness, empathy
- Ethos – credibility (character and reputation)
- Logos – a logical argument
Think about it. Would you be happy to do the bidding of someone who clearly didn’t care about you, or who seemed dodgy to you, or who spoke illogically? Would you be more likely to do the bidding of someone credible, logical, and unpleasant, or someone credible, logical, and pleasant?
The nature of audiences
News flash: we’re not all the same. We learn in different ways. We are persuaded by a range of factors in different mixes. Does it fit in with others? Does it feel right to me? Does the evidence stack up?
Conversely, in other ways we are very similar. We all think faster than we can speak. We usually ‘hear’ (receive); we don’t always ‘listen’ (receive and actively interpret). We cannot be attentive all of the time. We respond more strongly to body language than we do to words (if they conflict, we believe the body language).
The book has more to offer – for example, it also provides techniques for improving your memory performance, telephone conversations, and negotiating skills – but the three topics outlined above provided me with more than enough value to leave me satisfied with my purchase.
Reviewer: Simon Hertnon