In recent years, persuasive communication has taken on a certain negative value among the various communication styles. It is in fact associated with the manipulation of opinions, ideas and people.
It can also be used in this sense, there is no doubt, but we cannot ignore that good persuasive communication skills can also favor positive initiatives and fight wrong ideas or intentions. It is a form of communication that is exercised in large companies, as well as a skill that is given a lot of importance in senior management and in politics.
We live in the era of communication and, even if we have never stopped to reflect on it, we are all communicators. Social networks have given us a scenario in which communication is the order of the day, with people belonging to other cultures, with very different ideas and opinions.
There are many cases in which we have some influence on others without having any intention of it. Or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. But in a sense, we all give our opinion or express our point of view on something throughout the day, and we all want our opinion to be taken into consideration and accepted or rejected at least with criteria.
What is persuasive communication?
Below we present two definitions of persuasive communication:
- “Persuasive communication is the intentional use of communication, aimed at launching an important message in order to permeate the public”.
- “Persuasive communication is the intentional use of communication for the purpose of manipulating the masses.”
Is it the same message? Of the same intention? The message can be positive or negative, the intention can be positive or negative. But for persuasive communication to occur, there must be a communicator, a message, a recipient, and a channel. Now let’s see how these four elements work:
- The communicator: there is a widespread tendency to accept or reject a message based on who is communicating it, rather than based on the content. Among the variables that guarantee greater persuasion is the credibility of the communicator and, even if it may not seem true, his appearance.
- The message: It is easier to persuade others when the message is innovative, contains few topics and is full of emotions (positive or negative), such as hope or fear. The message can be presented bilaterally, in order to highlight the pros and cons of the idea or opinion. These messages are more persuasive to the more informed and educated audience. But they can also be presented unilaterally or partially, when the message only expresses the intention of the message. This type of message affects poorly informed people the most.
And then, again:
- Recipient or audience: the variables that have a greater weight are intelligence and self-esteem. These are two factors that mark the difference between accepting a message or rejecting it. A higher level of intelligence and self-esteem corresponds to a more in-depth analysis before accepting the arguments of others. A curious fact is that a higher level of persuasion does not have an immediate effect, but takes several weeks to take effect. This effect is known as the sleeper effect .
- The channel: simple messages have a better chance of convincing the listener if they are developed through audiovisual channels. More complex messages convince best when delivered in writing.
Convince or manipulate?
We often confuse the meaning of the two terms. In reality, persuasive communication is any form of intentionally oriented communication. This intention is often nothing more than a desire for other people to support our ideas and opinions. And in many cases these are good ideas, which can bring well-being to others, helping to improve our social or professional context.
Not all people want to manipulate others for their own benefit. Everyone, at any moment, makes use of persuasive communication without knowing it. But this form of communication requires the application of certain techniques that can be trained. The most important are:
- The logic. Many people base their ideas or opinions solely on emotions. Opinions based on emotions can lead to defending the strangest ideas as if they were true. But the lack of logic is unconvincing. Emotion is necessary, but only if combined with logic.
- Education, good education. Those who try to impose their ideas with insults and disrespect do not convince anyone. We experience this phenomenon every day on social networks. Expressing opinions respectfully is more convincing.
- A sense of humor. It must not be lacking, especially in order to be able to counter arguments to the contrary. Irony is better than sarcasm.
Persuasive communication is an art
Based on what has been said, it could be argued that persuasive communication is an art. Like all arts, it can be trained or at least it doesn’t hurt to have some control over it and make good use of this much needed skill. Without persuasive communication, leadership would not exist and important projects could not be carried out, nor would it be possible to put a stop to dangerous ideas.