The Art of Persuasion – Part 2 of 4

Welcome to the second part (of 4) in The Art of Persuasion series.

If you accidently stumbled here, I would suggest starting from the beginning.

The Art of Persuasion – Part 1 of 4

In the introductory post on the art of persuasion, we discussed why persuasion is an important part of our life, and what goals it can help us achieve. I consider persuasion to be at the center of human relationships, whether that is with your partner, your parents, your friends or even acquaintances and strangers. Without this powerful tool – radical honesty, diplomacy and flattery – all go out of the window.

As I promised, I will tell you the reason behind using a baby’s photo in the introductory post. If you missed it, check it out here – look at it for 5 seconds and come back.

What do you feel? Does the picture give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside? Many will-be and have-been mothers’ maternal instincts will kick in, and you will feel an unquestionably caring attitude towards the baby. The words ‘beautiful’ and ‘Awww!’ will leave your lips, even when you sit reading this article all by yourself. This is the power of persuasion. A little baby can persuade with no structured knowledge of human interaction, can it be just as easy for us?

Yes, it can.

Visual (Non-Verbal) Persuasion

See all the ads? Which one do you like?

This kind of persuasion is known as Visual persuasion, which feeds on the human ability to conjure up emotion as soon as they see something they connect with. In my opinion, this is also the most subtle of all modes of persuasion. For most part of your day (~16 hours), your eyes ‘look’ at different objects within any environment setting you are a part of.

When you wake up, you are in your room. When you go to work (or anywhere else), you come close to observing dynamic surroundings on your journey. When around other people, your eyes will carelessly attempt to read them, understand their reaction and mood-settings. It is common. When you come home, you will watch TV, interact with your family and spend some time reading articles online including this post. Then you will go to your bed, and dream. Some dreams are vivid, but rest assured, we all dream, even if we cannot remember them in the morning. If you feel that you are not as-observant as the next person, do this: When you catch yourself looking at something or someone, ask yourself what you are noticing about that object and person, and perhaps why.

Can you imagine how many images you have seen during an average day? Can you imagine how many objects you have noticed today – accidentally and on purpose?

Yankelovich research estimates that an average human living in the city comes across over 5,000 marketing messages daily, and I haven’t even touched upon non-marketing images yet, which could well be over 50,000 independent images (Please note that this is a calculated assumption on my part).

Visual persuasion itself has a huge impact on our psyche – particularly the sub-conscious part of our brain. When we see an advertisement for Coca-cola, we don’t rush out to buy it. However, next time when we want to quench a thirst, we are more likely to pick out Coca-cola than any other drink (Unless you are a Pepsi fan!)

Ok, How Do I Use It?

Less is more, but don’t make it scarce.

If you have a website and the ads are clearly visible and not bunched together in one collage, you are likely to get more people looking at those. If you wish to market your services, get a cool logo. If you want to draw people in to donate for charity, show what you need the money for – people are more likely do donate when they see a poor yet smiling child, than poor and sad child in Africa. Contrary to the popular belief, pity, sympathy or neediness will not get you donations. Instead hope, empathy and want of a better world would. This is a message that most charities get wrong.

Sad or Happy

Create something remarkable, something unique that will embed itself in everyone’s minds.

Alternatively, you could try using colors and other background details from famous brands to improve your brand recognition. Don’t believe me, check out Logo Design Love. This strategy is particularly effective when your product or service is similar to that offered by the company whose resource you just copied. Here is a cool visual post by Just Creative Design. Just make sure you do not end up infringing copyright laws.

How To Avoid Visual Manipulation

Typically, this aspect of visual persuasion deserves another post, but this will do. Notice I used the word manipulation here. Any persuasion technique that is unwanted or destructive to your growth is in essence trying to manipulate you.

Admittedly, most visual persuasion techniques are not overly-invasive. Their impact on our minds can at best, last a day. If this wasn’t the case, Coca-cola would stop advertising. However, those images that ‘connect’ with you can stay for longer, even if you don’t want them to.

I am talking about your past.

We all suffer from the Illusive Past (IP) syndrome.

Most of us tend to remember our lives as flashes of photography, from which we cannot seem to escape. We remember the good times, the bad times, but depending on the mood, we focus on either, never both at the same time. Everyone wants a cure to get over their past relationships, get over being fired from a job and move forward with their lives. These changes might seem difficult, but there are some simple action points that can help you not be manipulated or influenced by your past.

Remember, you cannot shut off your eyes unnecessarily or switch-off your sub-conscious, so you need to find another way of countering visual manipulation.

Correct Your Past


Get a pen and paper; maybe even 2 papers depending on how deep and far you can think.

Ever seen the show called Dog Whisperer by Cesar Millan? There, he changes how dogs behave by offering them rewards and penalties for their actions. Basically, you need to train your brain too.

Use a simple technique called association. Divide the sheet of paper into 2 columns. In the first, write down a sentence or two about the images you see and your thoughts associated with them. In the second column, against the image, fill in how you could correct it. As an example, consider this:

If I had gone to university try-outs, I would have been in the national rugby team by now

If I had gone to university try-outs, I could have under-performed at academia, and hence could not have secured a decent job

This aspect of psychology is potentially equivalent to lying to oneself.

But here is the truth – when you over think ‘out of context’ aspects of your past and compare them to your current situation, you are lying to yourself; and worse still, feeling bad because of that association. You need to reorganize your brain to pick up visual clues from the past and convert them into something positive. If you want to make the process easier, put up a list on your wall and keep looking at it until you have trained yourself.

It is better to consciously conjure up lies, than letting your sub-conscious mislead your mind into submission.

So, what bothers you the most? (Remember, I answer all questions at the end of the series)

Do you like Coca Cola?

Can I persuade you to share your experiences with visual persuasion?

Tell me if this helps you.


If you like this, you might also like to read these (please feel free to comment and share):

The Art of Persuasion – Part 3 of 4

The Art of Persuasion – Part 4 of 4

Picture acknowledgements:
African Sky Program
Politico, Ireland
NYC Metblogs
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About Neeraj Sachdeva

Neeraj is a life-geek, who enjoys talking about Psychology and Freelancing. His freelancing endeavor focuses on kick-starting start-ups and small businesses by using practical and timely experience. In his free time, he helps budding freelancers, and you can read about his journey on The Freelancer Diary.

About Neeraj Sachdeva

Neeraj is a life-geek, who enjoys talking about Psychology and Freelancing. His freelancing endeavor focuses on kick-starting start-ups and small businesses by using practical and timely experience. In his free time, he helps budding freelancers, and you can read about his journey on The Freelancer Diary.


  1. Hi Neeraj,

    Thanks for your replies on all my comments. I would love for you to participate on my blog(s) as a guest. Anytime! Just let me know. I am sure you can write something great. Drop by sometimes and leave comments about what you think of my posts 🙂
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..Subliminal Mind ControlMy Profile

  2. This is delightful, Neeraj!

    To answer to your question about Coca Cola, no, I don’t drink it because I NEVER drink dark soda. That’s because I know a thing or to about what it does to your insides 🙂 So, in this case the persuasion doesn’t work for me 🙂

    On a more serious note, I love the fact that you are talking about the very essence of the subconscious mind here which is that it always compare new ideas with what it already knows.

    This is the basic reason of someone’s “recurring” failures. They are not succeeding in whatever they might want to become successful at because they have failed in the past and subconsciously they can’t overcome this (our subconscious mind does not analyse anything).

    The problem is, that they don’t know it – they are not aware of it. They might never understand the root of their problems, unless, they decide to go deeper and get to know their subconscious mind.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..What Is Hypnosis?My Profile

    • Thanks Sylviane. I guess those of us who can discern the ill-effects of aerated drinks are clever enough to stay away from it (I didn’t use to drink it either, but then in India, its safer than water!)

      There is a lot more about the subconscious mind that I would like to go into, as that’s where most intrusive persuasion occurs (remember the film Inception?), but that might fall outside the realms of this blog. Though in light of what you have mentioned, there is certainly a way to correct that.

      I love what you are doing with your website, would love to contribute there some time, more so when my research kicks into top gear 🙂
      Neeraj Sachdeva recently posted..Should You Rent an Office Space?My Profile

  3. The art of persuasion has some very fine lines to walk, but so worth it.

  4. If I want to be honest with others, should I not be honest with myself? On the other hand, I must honestly confess than being honest with myself is not always a success–with changing my feelings or with meeting my goals.


    • Being honest for the sake of being honest is pointless. We often lie to save ourselves and other people from bad consequences. Would it not be a good idea to save ourselves by being optimistic and affirming that everything will be alright?

      Would you lie to save a loved one?
      Do you love yourself?

  5. Very interesting post, Neeraj. There is such a fine line between persuasion and manipulation that it’s so easy for someone who thinks he/she is persuading is actually manipulating, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to your post on how to draw the line between the two. 🙂
    Adeline recently posted..Taal Volcano May Get a Facelift for the WorstMy Profile

    • Hey Adeline, yes, the line between persuasion and manipulation is very fine indeed! As a self-preservation mechanism, if we end up buying something we wouldn’t have under normal circumstances, we just lie to ourselves and say we wanted it anyway. Its our way of saying we weren’t manipulated – at best, persuaded.

  6. Great stuff Neeraj- can’t wait to read the rest!
    Larry recently posted..Help Us Reach OUR Next GoalMy Profile

  7. Neeraj,

    Very interesting post and the art of persuasion is something that everyone could think about as oppose to the art of manipulation. In marketing my job is to persuade people not manipulate them into doing what I want them to do. Persuasion is harder than manipulation.

    Thanks for the great post,
    Jennifer Woodard recently posted..How Creating a Marketing Plan is like Planning a Road Trip part 3My Profile

  8. Hey Neeraj, great post and some great insights. Wondering have you come across the four styles of persuasion?
    Corri recently posted..The Last WordMy Profile

  9. Hi Neeraj. This is a great post. There is a radio program in Canada on the CBC called the Age of Persuasion. It’s about how advertising “tricks” us into buying things we don’t want. It is kinda behind the scenes stuff that you might be able to use.

  10. Great Post! Gotta do that exercise.. I have feeling it would make me feel better about stuff..

  11. interesting blog 🙂 thanks!! 🙂

  12. I was amused by the section “How to avoid visual manipulation,” since many in the marketing and advertising world are struggling to figure out how to embrace it.

  13. When does persuasion verge on blackmail or extreme coercion?

    Cheers John

    CEO #EAv Venture Capital Index



  14. Sounds like an interesting exercise I’m going to have to give a try. Thanks for sharing!
    Grady Pruitt recently posted..Do You Have a Wealth Building Plan?My Profile