It will have bad effects if you – as an effective persuader – use the same tactics for all people all the time. You should have a good Pre-Persuasion Checklist which will help you to fit the demographics, interests, and values of your audience. It’s is rooted in a solid understanding of human psychology, the ways to handle resistance, and the methods of effectively structuring a persuasive argument.
All battles are first won in the mind. You have to be mentally ready to persuade. Prepare yourself by knowing as much about your audience as possible. The persuasion process can be thought of as “persuasion engineering.” You have to draw up the blueprint for your persuasive techniques instead of “flying by the seat of your pants.” It’s like reading the roadmap before you drive. You need to understand where you are going, what route you should take, what the driving conditions will be, etc. Pre-persuasion operates the same way. Just remember the three D’s: discover, design, and deliver:
Deliver the message with passion, compassion, and purpose.
We all have our own “personal code.” As a Master Persuader, you must unlock your prospects’ codes. Most of this code is hidden from the untrained eye, so you’ll have to know what to look for. Consider how code is used in designing web pages. We have all surfed the Internet and seen hundreds, even thousands, of different Web pages. Underlying each page is HTML code. This code makes each page look and act differently. Many pages have hidden code that is difficult to find and understand. Similarly, we each have code that is apparent and some other code that is not apparent. Our code is the sum of our beliefs, experiences, motivations, thoughts, attitudes, values, personality, and so on that makes us who we are. The key for you as a Master Persuader is to decode the situation or the prospect, so you can know how to most effectively persuade your audience.
Finding and interpreting code comes with knowledge and experience, and the more knowledge and more experience you have, the easier it becomes to find and crack the code.
Inoculation: Defend Against the Attack
During the Korean War, Americans were shocked at the number of captured soldiers who willingly cooperated with the enemy. Initially they wondered whether the soldiers had been tortured and beaten into submission. Investigation revealed that the soldiers had not been tortured, but rather that they had been subjected to brainwashing sessions led by a skillful questioner. Soldiers were questioned about American ideologies such as freedom, democracy, and equality. Surprisingly, many of the soldiers had great difficulty defending their beliefs. The captors persisted in attacking beliefs the soldiers couldn’t explain until the soldiers began to question and doubt the validity of those beliefs. If the captors could get the soldiers that far, getting them to commit treason became much easier. New soldiers from that point on began receiving more extensive political training in addition to the typical military instruction. No soldier would ever again hold vaguely defined beliefs or be unable to defend America verbally or militarily.
How did the military train their soldiers to withstand the potential verbal attacks as had been perpetrated against them in the Korean War? What would keep them strong in the face of such adversity, preventing them from crumbling? It is a method called “inoculation.” The term “inoculation” comes from the medical field: Injecting a weak dose of a virus into a patient inoculates or prevents the patient from actually getting the disease. The body’s immune system fights off this weak form of the disease and then is prepared when the full disease attacks.
Likewise, when you are presenting to an audience who has an opposing viewpoint standing in the wing, you have to “inoculate” them with a weakened form of the other side’s argument. If you know someone is going to attack your viewpoint, you prepare your audience in advance for the attack.
The idea is to address the issues that your opponent will bring up and then directly refute them. The point to understand is that the inoculation must be a weak form of the “virus.” If you inoculated a human body with the strong strain of a disease, they could become sick or even die. The dose must be weak enough to prepare the body for the stronger virus but not so strong that it overpowers the body. In persuasion, you don’t want to give strong doses. You don’t want to give your prospects all the ammunition from the other side of the persuasive message. On the other hand, if you don’t prepare your audience for what they are about to hear, the sting of your opponent’s words, logic, or testimony might be too much for them to handle and they could switch sides.
We are surrounded by countless examples of inoculation, many of which can be seen used in the courtroom. The attorney stands up and says, “The prosecution will call my client mean, evil, a terrible husband, and a poor member of society, but this is not true, as I will show you over the next couple of weeks….” So, when the prosecutor stands up and states anything close to what the defense attorney has claimed she will, the jury is prepared, thinking she is acting exactly the way the defense said she would. This gives the jurors a way to ignore or even discount the prosecutor’s arguments.
Street gangs also use this inoculation tool. When they are attempting to convert someone to their beliefs and to join the gang, they will inoculate and prepare the future gang member by telling him his parents, teachers, and cops will encourage him not to join a gang. They will tell him all the reasons his opponents will give, fueling him with ammunition for the impending attack. This preparation enables him to handle the oncoming assault from parents, teachers, etc.
Society needs to understand the importance of inoculation in regards to smoking, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and others issues we know our children will come in contact with. Who should be the first contact with your children–you or the drug dealer? When you inoculate people, they can mentally prepare arguments supporting their stance. This reinforcement prevents them from switching teams. The more prepared they are, the more they’ll hold fast to their attitudes and beliefs. The more deeply this reinforcement is ingrained, the more difficult it will become for them to be swayed.
When do you use inoculation? The correct answer depends on the composition and attitude of your audience. If they already agree with your position, you only need to present one side. If they disagree with you, you need to present both sides. If an opposing speaker is going to follow you, you definitely need to inoculate. Giving both sides of the argument works better with audience members who already know something about the opposition’s strength. Inoculation works better with knowledgeable prospects because it communicates respect for your opponent’s intelligence. If the audience is full of committed believers, you win points by acknowledging there is another position.
Inoculation increases your credibility and your ability to persuade. By presenting them with the other side of the argument, you show the audience that you know how they feel and think. You are not afraid of the truth and have done your research. You prepare your audience in advance about the negative things someone could say about you or your product. You will win a great deal of respect and power when you answer someone’s questions before they even ask them.
When you know your audience, not only can you prepare for pending attacks, but you can also answer questions in advance with inoculation. This gives your listeners a solution in their minds. Imagine persuading prospects about the need to use your product. The competition will call your product the most expensive product on the market. You know this so you inoculate. You tell your prospects upfront that this is the highest quality, longest lasting, most expensive product on the market. You let them know why you are the best and the most expensive. Your product has won most of the industry’s awards, lasts the longest, and gives the most value for the money. These arguments, strategically planted in the mind of your prospects, will enable them to access these facts when the competition belittles you or your product.
Pre-persuasion is everything. Prepare your mind, know your audience, know their code, and structure a winning persuasive argument accordingly. Know who, what, when, where, and why about your message and your audience. Master Persuaders know that information and structure are the seeds for perfect persuasion.
Persuasion is the missing puzzle piece that will crack the code to dramatically increase your income, improve your relationships, and help you get what you want, when you want, and win friends for life. Ask yourself how much money and income you have lost because of your inability to persuade and influence. Think about it. Sure you’ve seen some success, but think of the times you couldn’t get it done. Has there ever been a time when you did not get your point across? Were you unable to convince someone to do something? Have you reached your full potential? Are you able to motivate yourself and others to achieve more and accomplish their goals? What about your relationships?