Hello and welcome to the final part of The Art of Persuasion series.
If you have stumbled upon this article, I would recommend reading the first 3 parts in the series.
I would recommend reading those first, as many theories and facts discussed here might seem meaningless if you haven’t built up to them.
So far, you have seen how visual, written and verbal persuasion techniques work. You also gained insight into how you can implement these techniques and place safeguards to prevent yourself from being manipulated. Visual persuasion techniques are subtle in nature, yet non-pervasive. On the other hand, verbal and written persuasion can almost border on manipulation, more so since we spend more time investing into these.
Yet there is another mode of persuasion, one of a more intimate form. Even though scope of its implementation is limited (due to intimate settings), it is perhaps, arguably, the most powerful form of persuasion. I am talking about Physical, or non-verbal persuasion.
Do you ever find yourself unexpectedly staring at people? Trying to work out what they are thinking based on how they are dressed and how they act?
Do you ever find yourself feeling an innate connection with someone you have just met?
Or maybe you present a positive aura to people around you – who just, for some unexplainable reason, like you!
Welcome to the party. If your answer to any of these questions is a resounding Yes, then you understand what non-verbal communication and persuasion is all about.
Non- verbal persuasion forces your biological instincts to come out and play. It helps you recognize someone in your vicinity, someone who you can ‘connect’ with. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, man is a social animal, and we all need connections of some sort. Non-verbal persuasion makes it easy to make connections, to feel wanted, to feel consoled.
Non-verbal persuasion is the most intrusive form of persuasion. Due to its intimate and personal nature, you are a direct target for a sale, for a pick up, or for networking. Experts at this kind of persuasion are quite often born charmers that use very little words, a lot of body-language and touching to influence you.
The Mirror Effect: Do you know how I started to learn and understand persuasion? It was through the mirror effect. Con-artists use their persona to manipulate their targets into submission. They use verbal, visual and non-verbal means to coerce their targets.
When I was starting on the dating scene, I went out with this girl, who like me, was very introverted. I picked her up from her apartment, and while walking to the center, we hardly spoke a word. The tension between us was palpable, but neither of us had the nerve to break the silence. At dinner, the silent nervousness continued till she excused herself to use the washroom. She came back and sat down with her left arm on the table, facing in my direction. Incidentally, my left arm was facing her – we were at touching distance. Yet we didn’t touch.
Instead, something interesting happened. I started talking, and then she started talking. Soon, we were flirting, and to my surprise, our body language matched each other’s. We both had our drinks on the left hand side; we were eating at nearly the same time and our heads would tilt in the same direction. If someone had been paying attention – they would have noticed a set of twins eating together, except that we looked nothing alike.
This is called the Mirror effect, where you mirror the person sitting opposite to you. It is a great way to build trust and comfort, allowing you to concentrate on the actual purpose of the meet.
Non-verbal persuasion can also be more physical and ‘touchy-feely’ in nature. Whenever you need to console someone, it helps to put a hand on their shoulder to make them feel better. A mother gently puts her hand on her child’s head as a mark of affection. These are all methods of persuading those around us to feel better.
How Important Is Non-Verbal Persuasion For You?
Very important. Whatever it is you want, along with other modes of persuasion, convincing people without using words is very important. The way you carry yourself, dress, and act around people can help you succeed in various aspects of your life – personal and professional. A strong handshake shows that you are a confident person, and mean business. A humble posture shows that you respect the other person’s opinions and are keen on listening intently. Be smart and use your instincts to guide you better.
If you are in doubt, just start with the mirror effect. When in a conversation, mimic the other person’s actions (without making it obvious). You will notice that any discomfort or lack of trust between both parties will vanish quickly. Moreover, you can concentrate on actually selling your product/services rather than trying to build trust. Run things on auto-pilot.
At the start of the series, I mentioned that I will answer any questions raised by people. So here they are:
I supervise a sales office, and I’m always on the lookout for tips that can help our folks get through to customers. Bring it on. ~ Cheryl
Cheryl, I hope you found the whole series useful. As someone working in sales, you need to remember that intimidation or putting in the fear of God in people never works. A successful sales person will listen to the customer, get their feedback, relate to their condition and then offer something that could alleviate their current dilemma. The goal for any sales office should not be just to get more sales, it should be to interact and learn from people, and incorporate their feedback to improve. You can persuade customers once you have connected with them. Without that, you might as well be carrying Jehovah’s Witness’ book in your hand, going from door to door.
When does persuasion verge on blackmail or extreme coercion? ~ John
John, I believe that any kind of persuasion that is intrusive and unwanted is manipulation. Blackmail and coercion is a step too far, and happens when one uses unnatural aspects of persuasion. Interestingly, blackmail or extreme coercion aim to alter action rather than simply change behavioural pattern, so if you wish to ascertain which is which, figure out what the consequences of a successful manipulation would be. Persuasion that is overly-intrusive and destructive in nature will leave the subject in a worse condition (than before said action). I think hypnosis to an extent is also a step too far, but if done under controlled conditions and for the right reasons, it can be useful. Basically, anything that radically overwrites your freewill is bad.
It would be useful to know what you thought of the whole series. Did you enjoy it? Was it informative? If you would like to know more about anything related to human relationships, I would be happy to start another series. Just leave your comments below. Feel free to share these with others using Twitter, Facebook and other social media.