• David de Souza

The 80/20 Guide to Persuasion - 53 Mental Models

Updated: Jul 27



Persuasion was a skill taught by ancient Greeks. They believed it to be critical to human happiness due to its power to filter the best ideas and avoid coercion and civil unrest.


If you want your ideas to be taken seriously you need to learn how to persuade. Persuasion is no longer taught in schools, but I’ve distilled the core principles from the best books on the subject.

I've scoured second-hand books shops and spent hours looking for expert sources of persuasion. If you think I've missed a book please do let me know in the comments as I am always looking to refine my thinking and this list.

The Books:


  1. Pre-suasion

  2. Influence

  3. Age of Propaganda

  4. The Process of Persuasion

  5. The Hidden Persuaders

  6. The Art of Manipulation

  7. Thank You for Arguing

  8. The Catalyst

  9. Breakthrough Advertising: Part 1 - Persuasion

  10. The Forbidden Keys to Persuasion

  11. The One Sentence Persuasion Course

  12. Persuasive Copywriting

  13. Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter

  14. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

  15. Contagious: Why Things Catch On

  16. Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive


I've studied these books and distilled the core principles from each. I've deleted any overlapping principles to produce this ultimate guide on the 80/20 of persuasion:


53 Mental Models for Persuasion


1. Accuracy

  • We often try and increase accuracy to the point of uselessness. Provide enough information to be useful and then a little more as needed.

2. Agenda Setting Theory:

  • The media does not change opinion by providing compelling evidence that changes peoples' minds. They persuade by giving selected issues more coverage than others. The audience believes (due to the greater attention being paid) that the selected issues are the most important.

  • "The mass media may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about..."

3. Anchoring

  • We are more likely to become influenced when we are asked for a big request, which is followed up with a smaller request, even if we are interested in neither. For example: a charity who tries to sell you a circus ticket and if you decline they offer a chocolate bar for sale instead.

4. Arguments/Counterarguments

  • Choose your argument wisely. Let sleeping dogs lie when they don't affect your primary concerns.

  • If someone makes a claim, for example: "We spend too much money". Don't say they are wrong and provide counterexamples. Instead say: "...because you deserve to be treated well and I want what's best for you."

  • Counterarguments are more effective than arguments when the original argument is shown to be mistaken or misdirected.

5. Associations

  • When we have false maps in our brain, persuasion can negatively affect us. It is the result of living in a black & white world and allowing ourselves to respond automatically to words and symbols that we associate as either being good or bad. Just as someone with hay fever can have physical symptoms triggered by paper flowers, our mind can also play tricks on us so that we are triggered when we hear words such as communist, democrat, republican or capitalism.

  • The words used to describe an object or situation direct our thoughts and responses, they define and create our social world. For example: "Fresh frozen" was preferred to "frozen fish".

  • Weight is linked metaphorically to seriousness, importance, and effect. People rated a candidate higher when their rating was read from a heavy clipboard.

  • Voting locations have a big impact on how people vote. More than 10,000 people voted for school funding when the voting location was at a school.

  • The more you understand words and the emotions they carry for people, the more effective you'll be at persuading.

6. Attention

  • A message that is ignored can not be persuasive. The message must get the person's attention.

  • The thoughts going through the person's head when the communication is being heard plays a pivotal role in persuasion.

  • Physical needs are the foundation of Maslow's pyramid and can take priority over our safety. Mental engagement can override them. For example, we can be starving hungry and then something distracts us and gains our attention, we suddenly no longer notice the hunger.

7. Authority

  • A society built on authority provides many advantages, including the development of resource production, trade, defense, expansion and social control. Guidance from a recognized authority provides a useful shortcut, helping us to decide how to act.

  • People defer to experts. When you show your credentials it will allow you to influence them.

8. Availability Bias

  • Most conversation is small talk. We are simply looking for something to say to avoid silence and to keep the conversation going. We usually talk about whatever is at the forefront of our mind.

9. Belittlement

  • Most lawsuits (and bad reviews) come from a sense of belittlement. People lash out when they are belittled to increase their status/ego or to shrink yours.

10. Benchmarking

  • Every decision is a comparison of alternatives. If you can influence how people see the alternatives you can sell anything.

11. Bottlenecks

  • When it comes to change, people usually add heat and pressure but rarely think about removing barriers.

12. Choice

  • We prefer choice, even if it makes us worse off. For example: people prefer to make the choice to turn off a family members' life support even though they feel worse compared to a doctor making the decision.

  • When given just one option people will find holes in it. By giving multiple options you divert their brain to thinking about which option is best.

  • Increased choice can result in increased frustration, however. This is the paradox of choice.

13. Cognitive Dissonance

  • Propaganda takes advantage of our rationalizing of thoughts and behavior; so they appear reasonable to ourselves and others.

  • A great marketer has the ability to express powerful, hidden reasonings indirectly because some reasoning is socially unacceptable and can not be expressed openly. The buyer would reject the message if it were.

  • To spot cognitive dissonance, look for the trigger. The trigger is what made you realize that your actions were in conflict with your self-image.

  • The propagandist arouses feelings of dissonance by threatening self-esteem, making people feel guilty by:

i. Making them seem like a hypocrite.

ii. Making them seem like someone who does not honor their word.

  • The propagandist offers a solution, a way of reducing dissonance, guilt or shame by:

i. Giving to charity.

ii. Buying a car

iii. Voting for a politician.

14. Commonplace

  • When making an argument start from the audiences commonplace (a view that your audience, as a group hold), not yours.

15. Confirmation Bias

  • When deciding if a possibility is correct, people look for confirmation instead of examples that do not align.

16. Conspicuous Reserve

  • A common technique of people in a secure, high social position. The desire to show their status but to do so in a modest way. They show their superiority by highlighting their indifference to status. They buy old station wagons and deliberately downgrade.

17. Desires

  • Don't ask people what they want. For example, most people would say they want more positive news on TV. Men say that they want an intelligent woman but in reality, they would rather have an attractive one.

  • If we can control our desires we can safeguard from the tendencies that can hijack our health and relationships.

  • Often there is a conflict between our desires and persuasions. This conflict is the basis of all drama and human character.

  • There are two opposing forces of 'desire' and 'resistance', when desire is greater than resistance, the purchasing decision is made. The longer the decision is being considered, the higher the tension becomes, and eventually, the purchase will be made.

  • Don't create desire, channel and direct it by utilizing people's hopes, dreams and fears.

  • "People don't change: only the direction of their desires do."

  • "We are most likely to find revolutions where a period of improving economic and social conditions is followed by a short sharp reversal in those conditions. It is not traditionally the most downtrodden people - who have come to see their deprivation as part of the natural order of things- who are especially liable to revolt. Instead, revolutionaries are more likely to be those who have been given at least some taste of a better life. When the economic and social improvements they have experienced and come to expect suddenly become less available, they desire them more than ever and often rise up violently to secure them.

18. Differentiation

  • You want your customers to be loyal and loving towards your brand even when there is little difference between your products and your competition. To create this 'illogical loyalty' create differentiation in the mind of the buyer.

19. Emotions

  • Facts and reason only influence our decisions on trivial things. With important decisions, emotion is attached, and we make decisions first and then rationalize after.

  • When we become emotional our sense of reason shuts down. We don't realize when this is happening.

  • Statistics don't produce emotion. Bring them to life by making them more relatable or human.

  • Logic alone will not get people to act, they need desire and emotion.

  • Emotions cause buying vs information (that causes analysis). You want your reader to act.

  • Focus on highlighting feelings instead of functions (of the product).

  • Don't tell the person how to feel, or not be afraid. Instead:

i. Show evidence

ii. Offer support

iii. Tell stories

19.1 Anger

  • Anger is the most effective emotion to get people to act.

19.2 Curiosity:

  • The job of your headline (or message) is to stop the reader and to compel her to read the second line.

19.3 Envy

  • When making a choice, we are more likely to make the selection that will make others envious.

19.4 Fear

  • Fear is most effective when: It scares people greatly and clear steps are given to help the person change (otherwise, the person will be indecisive)

  • It relieves discomfort when you can show people there is a pattern.

  • We want to understand the world. People who set our minds at ease are label makers. For example: The doctor who is able to describe what is going on in our body.

  • Don't build better mousetraps. Build larger mice (or the perception that they are big). Build a fear of mice in your customers.

  • If we can't allay fears, tell the person that it is OK to be afraid. Don't tell someone not to be afraid.

19.5 Guilt

  • When we feel guilt we are less likely to pay attention to the logic of an argument.

  • People who are made to feel guilty were 3 times more likely to comply with a request.

19.6 Love/Sex

  • Sex only sells for items people buy for sexually related purposes: (lipstick, cologne, form-fitting clothes).

19.7 Power:

  • Powerless people will lash out. Make them feel powerful. Give them the feeling of control.

  • Those who give us the greatest sense of power gain more loyalty than those who demand it.

19.8 Sadness

  • Sad buyers are willing to pay 30% more on average compared to neutral buyers.

  • Sad sellers are willing to sell an item for 33% less than a neutral buyer.

20. Identity/Status

  • Appeals to self-image are effective for persuasion.

  • People make decisions based on their identity, norms, and principles. They ask themselves: What do people like me (environmentalist/mothers/firemen) do in situations like this?

  • Status symbols are important to people caught in a stratified life

  • Groups are maintained and strengthened by focusing their member's attention on another rival group.

  • People share things that make them look good. We don't share things that make us or others look bad. Remarkable things make people who talk about them remarkable and give them social currency.

  • Products that are too good or too high status may cause people to ask: "Am I good enough for this product?"

  • People pay less for soap compared to a cream. Soap only makes you clean while the cream sells the hope of beauty. You are buying the promise. We do not buy vegetables, we buy the hope of health. We do not buy a car, we buy the promise of prestige.

  • "Your prospect must identify with your headline before he can buy from it. It must be his headline, his problem, his state of mind at that particular moment".

21. Fixed Action Patterns

  • Fixed action patterns are blindly mechanical behaviors in species. For example: A robin will attack a clump of red feathers but leave a stuffed replica without the red feathers. Humans also have these triggers, for example: canned laughter.

22. Groups

  • We often have the mistaken belief that (from an evolutionary perspective) humans need to be part of a group and that using marketing around this idea is beneficial. It depends: If the person is scared or in a wary state of mind the "Don't be left out of the group" message is effective. If the person is feeling romantic the "Be one of a few" is more effective and the popularity based appeal will fail.

23. Liking

  • The number 1 rule of salespeople is to get the customer to like you (in reality, it is the pre-suasion technique of the customer thinking the seller likes them that causes the result.)

  • Any attempt to sell to someone who doesn't know or like you will fail 95% of the time.

  • Humans are susceptible and open to people who think like them. When you think like someone, they will see you as a friend. It's easier to change a mind on 1 issue, after being seen as a friend, then every issue as an enemy.

  • The more familiar something is the more it will be liked: "What the masses term truth is the information which is most familiar."

  • A study showed that an attractive woman can have a large impact on the opinions of an audience on a topic that had nothing to do with beauty. Her impact was greatest when she admitted expressing a desire to influence the people as if they were trying to please someone who is attractive.

  • When someone treats us continually well, we receive a consistent reward. The result is that we take them for granted. Give people sporadic reinforcement to keep them wanting you.

  • "If you could master one element of personal communication that is more powerful than anything we've discovered it is the quality of being likable.... if your audience likes you, they'll forgive just about everything else you do wrong. If they don't like you, you can hit every rule right on target and it doesn't matter".

24. Loss Aversion

  • People are more motivated by loss than by a proportional gain.

  • Due to loss aversion, it is usually more persuasive to mention what you would lose instead of what you'll gain/save.

25. Momentum

  • People are more likely to be persuaded if they have taken a small step in the right direction as long as the first step was made voluntarily and without coercion. The momentum will propel them to carry on.

26. Multiple Ways to win

  • Play games you can't lose by having multiple ways you can win. For example: an advert that has the opportunity to include partners' products will improve the relationship. Even if the advert is not effective in selling, it will have solidified a relationship.

27. Newton's 3rd Law/ Reactance

  • When our choices are taken away or threatened, we react against this loss of control. To gain back control and to feel autonomous, we often engage in the forbidden behavior.

  • Jurors who are told to disregard evidence weigh it more heavily.

  • When you confront a person about their beliefs, they will harden their belief even if your argument is perfect.

  • People resist unwelcome attempts to persuade them. People can't resist what they do not notice.

  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. People will often respond by fighting back to a direct message. Stories are an indirect form of messaging that work under the radar of persuasion.

  • People sometimes doubt what they are told but they never doubt what they conclude.

28. Peripheral/Central Routes to Persuasion:

  • Peripheral: Little attention is needed. Persuasion is determined by simple cues. For example: watching TV while doing another task.

  • Central: The listener is careful and thoughtful in their consideration. In this situation, persuasion is determined by how well the message can stand up to scrutiny.

29. Pre-suasion:

  • Pre-suasion is guiding attention before a person receives a message to move the listener into agreement. The key is to focus the person on concepts that are aligned and associated with the information they are about to receive.

  • You don't need to change anything except what the person is thinking about at the moment they make the decision. For example: Asking them if they are an adventurous person or playing French music (to persuade them to buy French wine).

  • Anything that is given attention will lead people to overestimate its importance.

  • A communicator who is able to focus a person's attention on a key element pre-loads it with importance.

30. Questions

  • Questions are a powerful tool for persuasion because they structure a persons decision-making process by:

  1. Directing our thoughts to the relevant issues.

  2. Specifying the range of options.

31. Rationality

  • Kant stated that our brains don't have access to reality. We interpret the world through our senses.

  • Do not trust people to act in a rational manner. Their behavior makes sense when you consider their deeper needs, goals, and motives.

  • When we are open to the idea that people’s actions make sense given their own sense of mortality and their own interpretation of reality, we can better understand them.

  • Even when people know their likes and dislike you cannot trust them to be accurate. The answers they will tell you are those that think sound sensible, intelligent, and rational.

  • Even though we consider ourselves rational animals we are rationalizing animals. Experts say that over 99% of our behavior is simply the result of conditioned responses.

  • We make a snap emotional decision to buy a product. We then look for information to rationalize our decisions.

  • 'Master persuaders move your attention to the topics that help them, independent of facts and reason'.

  • "When irrational acts are committed knowingly they become a delicious luxury."

32. Reciprocity

  • Reciprocity is so strong that even if the person is disliked it will still work.

  • A recipient places more value on a favor compared to the person who gave the favor initially. However, as time goes on the value decreases in the receiver's mind but increases in the givers.

33. Recovery Paradox

  • Recovery is often faster from severe injuries compared to minor ones because with a severe injury we ensure the injury is treated immediately. With minor injuries, we put it off and the problem isn't fixed.

34. Reframing

  • Reframe something as regaining a loss. For example with BREXIT and 'Regaining control'.

35. Satisficing

  • Peoples' decision-making goal is usually to make their decision good enough and gone, as a result, we use 'satisficing': we select the first practical option that presents itself.

36. Scarcity

  • We want an item when it is scarce and we want it, even more, when we are in competition for it.

  • When customers were told of forthcoming scarcity due to exclusive information (vs non-exclusive) they purchased 6 times more.

  • When information is banned we have a greater need for that information and our perception towards that information is more favorable and believable.

37. Self-Preservation:

  • Self-preservation is the primary principle of persuasion.

  • New ideas (and inventions) are accepted quickly when it affects people's self (or group) interest/preservation.

  • Self-preservation can take many forms:

i) Satisfying hunger

ii) Preserving youth and beauty

iii) Success

iv) Pride/vanity

v) Kindness and Generosity

vi) Commanding


38. Social Proof

  • "Since 95% of people are imitators and 5% initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof that we can offer".

  • Multiple sources of recommendation do not have much of a difference if they are similar (for example an extra family member or coworker) because it is not about how many others, it's about additional information.

  • Pluralistic ignorance is the tendency to look to see what everyone else is doing and to use that inaction as a cue. In a staged experiment, 85% of people helped an epileptic having a seizure when they were the only person present but this decreased to 31% with 5 bystanders present.

  • When you need emergency help, do not allow bystanders to come to their own conclusions. Isolate one person, stare, shout and point at them and no one else: "You sir, in the black jacket, I need help I am having a seizure, call an ambulance".

39. Stereotypes/Shortcuts

  • Stereotypes are necessary. We can not analyze all information. We do not have the energy, time or capacity.

  • We have created a world so complex and with so much information that we must deal with it using shortcuts like animals that we once transcended."Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them"

  • In the same way that a recorded "cheep-cheep" sound can cause a bird to be mothering (even when there is no chick present). Television executives exploit the same shortcut by using canned laughter to stimulate us to laugh.

  • Propaganda takes advantage of mental shortcuts - Our desire to converse mental energy.

  • We are cognitively lazy we accept a conclusion without any good reason. for example: "May I use the photocopier because I have copies to make".

40. Stories

  • People are more likely to be influenced by one clear, vivid personal example (such as a story) compared to a trove of statistical data. Stories are more persuadable than facts for 2 reasons: 1. It's difficult to argue against something that happened to a specific person unless we were a witness. 2. We become distracted in the drama of the story and don't have the cognitive resources to reason or question, and we are therefore more likely to be persuaded.

  • There are 3 basic templates that account for 60-80% of all stories: i. The Challenge Plot:

  • Contains obstacles that are daunting.

  • This plot inspires using courage and perseverance to overcome the obstacles. ii. The Connection Plot:

  • A story about people that connects between different demographics.

  • This plot makes us want to help and be tolerant of others.

  • This plot is about relationships with people. iii. The Creativity Plot:

  • This story plot involves solving a problem that has been around for a long time.

41. Strategic Ambiguity

  • Remove details that give your audience the opportunity to think "That's not me". Allow enough blank space so they can incorporate their own narrative.

42. Templates

  • 90% of award-winning ads used the same 6 templates. A group of novices was trained for 2 hours on how to use a template. Their ads were 50% more creative compared to the professionals. What other templates can you apply to your life?

43. The Gap Theory:

  • Gaps cause pain. As a result we try and fix/close this gap.

  • Mysteries are powerful because they create a desire for closure.

  • Mystery is created not from an unexpected moment but from an unexpected journey. We know where we're headed - we want to solve the mystery- but we're not sure how we'll get there.

44. The Flywheel Effect:

  • By thinking someone is more beautiful, wiser or abled, you bring out their best side which makes them blossom.

45. The High Ground Manoeuvre

  • Moving an argument from the details on which there is disagreement to higher ground where everyone agrees.

  • Frame your choice to your audience as: 2 ways to win and no way to lose. This is a natural high ground maneuver.

46. The Inoculation Effect

  • If we are given brief exposure to a message that we can refute, we become immune to any further full-scale presentation of the same message.

47. The Persuasion Stack:

The types of persuasion can be ranked in broad terms, by their power. A visual message is more persuasive than an audio or written one. However, an oral or written presentation can be more persuasive than a visual one if it is higher in the pervasive stack:

  • Big Fear

  • Identity

  • Small Fear

  • Aspirations

  • Analogies

  • Reason

  • Hypocrisy

  • Definition (of a word). e.g. Abortion

48. The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

  • The tendency for the definition (or label) of something to become true. For example: people who are labeled smart, act smarter.

49. Trust/Credibility

  • People have a 'latitude of acceptance' however this can be broken if a messenger is highly credible.

  • Lawyers use jargon that we don't understand. If we do not understand the problem we are at their mercy.

50. Visualization

  • Ideas that are not concrete and can't be visualized are weak for persuasion.

  • Abstract nouns are not as easy to remember as concrete one, for example: car vs empathy.

  • Use ideas & concepts that people already understand. Schemas increase memory and comprehension.

51. Uncertainty Tax

  • The more ambiguity there is around an idea/event/product, the less valuable that thing becomes.

  • Overcome uncertainty by using trials of products or services.

52. Urban Legends

  • Urban legends are memorable and don't have to be repeated. If you have to repeat an idea or story maybe it wasn't interesting or sticky.

  • Urban legends are credible because local details are added giving them credibility

53. Zone of Acceptance/Region of Rejection

  • Viewpoints that are too extreme fall into peoples' 'region of rejection' and get discounted.

  • If information is within peoples' 'zone of acceptance', then that information will work to change people's minds. If information is outside the persons 'zone of acceptance' then the information will not persuade and it will often have a backfire effect and people become even more certain their initial thinking is correct. The solution is a more moderate appeal.


45 Tactics for Persuasion


1. A logic Sandwich:

  • "Since [commonplace], then we should [my choice]"

2. Advice

  • Ask for advice on books, videos and work habits. Let the person know their recommendation was good.

  • Tell a person how their advice has helped you. This is indirectly saying: "You are smarter than me".

3. Anadiplosis

  • Build a thought/sentence, on top of another by using the last word/phrase in the sentence to start the next sentence. The momentum builds up to make your delivery unstoppable.

4. Antithesis:

  • Make it sound like you are carefully weighing up both sides, evaluate the results and come to a conclusion.

5. Aristotle

  • The best order of a speech is: ethos, logos, pathos.

i. Ethos:

  • Present yourself as a good and trustworthy person.

  • Get the audience to like you through: shared values & identity and concern for their interests.

ii. Logos:

  • Use logic and vivid historical imagery to illustrate points.

iii. Pathos

  • The message should take into account the audiences' preexisting beliefs and emotions.

  • Use patriotism, anger, and other emotions that result in action.

6. Association

i. Virtue Device:

  • Virtue words bring to mind pleasant images. They persuade us to act by positive association. For example democracy and freedom.

ii. Poison Device:

  • Use "bad" words/symbols to persuade us to reject by association, avoiding the need to present facts and arguments.

iii. Testimonial Device:

  • Use people who are good, respectable, and successful to persuade people to accept (or vice versa). We have a reluctance to critically evaluate these symbols due to our instinct of self and group preservation. Rebellious individuals who do not conform to the group threaten its survival. Therefore we have been conditioned to punish the rebellious and protect the obedient. We distrust nonconformity to protect our self-preservation. A logically flawed testimonial can still be persuasive. For example: This product is born in America and America is the home of democracy. To question the product is almost questioning democracy.

vi. Together Device:

  • Use poison words, virtue words and testimonials to organize the group as one mind.

7. Attack

  • You can attack someone reputation without appearing to:

  • "I'm not interested in making personal attacks, but I just want to....(the opposite of their bad character.

8. Attention

  • Reveal a secret (or a lie) in your message.

  • Use incongruity theory to gain people's attention.

9. Authority:

  • Don't brag - ask someone to highlight your expertise for you.

10. Backup/Proof

  • Asking someone to test a claim is powerful for persuasion (as is a guarantee).

11. Belittlement Charge

  • Highlight the opposition belittling your group's values or desires. This will make your group angry.

12. Cicero

  • The 1st line of defense is the denial of facts.

  • The 2nd is to challenge the definition of the action.

  • The 3rd is to question the quality of the action.

  • The final defense is to question the right of the tribunal.

13. Commitment

  • You can increase the likelihood that someone will come to an event by saying: "We'll mark you down as coming then, Okay?" [Pause]

  • People who write down a statement are more committed to it even after new evidence is provided, especially those who do so publicly. People who do not write down a statement are more willing to change their minds.

  • To overcome the effects of peoples' consistency bias, avoid framing their commitment as a mistake. Tell them: "Their decision was correct at the time they made it".

  • Free people from their previous commitments. Tell people: "The precious decision was the right one given the evidence and information they had".

  • The greater the effort and pain involved in a commitment, the greater the influence on the person. For example, initiation ceremonies.

  • Consistency is powerful in influencing human behavior because of 'commitment'. Researchers asked people to predict if they would vote on election day. As most people want to seem virtuous they said 'yes' and this acted as a commitment device and more people went to vote.

  • After a person has answered a question favorably, say "I'll let the others know" to increase commitment as their decision has now been publicly declared.

  • Charities use consistency when calling and asking "How are you?" Our natural reaction is to say "Fine/Good" and they then reply with "I'm glad to hear that because I am calling to see if you can help the unfortunate victims of...."

  • Highlight a discrepancy between what a person might recommend others to do and what they are doing. This technique works because we strive for consistency. We want our beliefs and behaviors to align.

14. Confidence

  • Instead of using "um, get in the habit of starting a sentence with "and" when being questioned.

  • A confident person is more persuasive. Show confidence with:

i. A low number of speech errors (Use pauses to help with this)

ii. Authoritative tone

iii. Steady body posture.


15. Desires


People all have similar psychological desires:

  1. They need to feel needed.

  2. They need a sense of hope when dealing with a difficult situation.

  3. They need a scapegoat.

  4. They need to be noticed and understood.

  5. They need to know things others (and they) aren't supposed to know. Ask a favor, make people feel important. Share a secret. Make a confession.

  6. They need to be right. The moment someone feels like they are trying to be changed they feel they are "wrong" and resist.

  7. They need a sense of power. Give people a limited set of options that you decide

16. Ego

  • Personal information about ourselves is a strong magnet of attention.

  • Use the word 'you' liberally before you make a pitch to predispose your audience for a full consideration.

17. Emotions

  • Find your reader's pain point and you've found your way into their emotions.

  • To get people to act, use the emotions of: desire, lust, joy, love, esteem, compassion.

  • When buying, there is often conflict between pleasure and guilt. When selling, provide moral permission for the person to have fun without guilt. Offer absolution:. "You deserve it" or "It's the right thing to do."

  • Don't pre-warn of the emotion you'll invoke, it will inoculate the listener. For example: "This will make you laugh"

  • High arousal emotions make people share more because they motivate them to action: i. High Arousal/Positive Emotions: Awe Excitement Amusement (humor) ii. High Arousal/Negative Emotions: Anger Anxiety Disgust. iii. Low Arousal/Positive Emotions: Contentment iv. Low Arousal/Negative Emotions: Sadness

  • The 2 great combos of persuasion are (security + hope) and (insecurity + fear)

17.1 Annoyance

  • Keep things simple: The more confusing something is, the more annoyed people will become.

17.2 Anger

  • Use the passive voice to calm emotions. For example: Active: The dog bit the girl. Passive: The girl was bitten by the dog.

  • To overcome someone's anger: "Nothing makes me feel worse than failing to live up to my standards. So I'm going to do everything possible....

  • You can calm someone's emotions by overemphasizing yours. This works well if you make a mistake and you overplay how stupid you have been.

  • Emotional Refusal: Don't show the emotion the bully wants you to show. Look calm and you'll gain the audience's sympathy.

  • When you encounter a verbally aggressive bully, feign a sympathetic curiosity: asking for definitions, more details and suggested sources.

  • Over sympathizing: If you exaggerate sympathy you can make a person feel ashamed of their behavior.

  • When someone is aggressive, massage their ego by agreeing with their feelings (not their point of view): "I don't blame you for feeling that way. I've felt that way myself". Empathize with their feelings. Follow up with sharing an experience that caused you to feel something similar.

  • When someone is harsh be humble:

i. It calms the person, taking the wind out of their sails.

ii. It embarrasses them.

iii. The best response: "You are probably right" or "I guess you are right"


18. Fake Because:

  • When someone is indecisive using a 'fake because' will give them self justification to go ahead.

19. Foot-in-the-Door Technique:

  • Start by asking for a small request in order to gain compliance for a larger one.

20. Freebies

  • When given a bonus gift for purchasing a product, the value of the bonus will decline. To overcome this instead of writing: "Receive a free Ecourse" change the messaging to: "Receive a $500 Ecourse at no cost to you.

21. How to Persuade A Group:

  • Say very little, just a question or two to guide discussion when needed.

  • Wait until everything has been said and people are tired and ready to go home.

  • At the right moment: Give back the best of what you've been given.

  • Raise your hand and extend your fingers and say:

  • 'It seems to be me that the matter under discussion involves 5 points...'

  • The group will like your suggestions as it is mainly their own.

  • A person can save face if at least one of the points can be used (even if partially) and credited to them.

22. Identity/Status

  • Ask people to describe themselves. The first thing they mention will be their identity and who they consider themselves to be.

  • Give a person the label of a certain trait and then make a request consistent to that trait (and provide examples of when they have done that).

  • Identity Strategy: Give the audience a choice of an action that defines them as a group.

  • Create the image that people want to see of themselves and sell that.

23. Layering:

  • "Not only do get this but you also get...."

24. Leadership

  • A well-tailored suit can result in deference from strangers: 3.5 x more people followed a person wearing a suit who walked into traffic at a crossing.

25. Length

  • Long messages are more persuasive, even if they contain weak arguments.

26. Less is More

  • If you try and argue 10 different points, none will be remembered. Find the single most important point.

27. Liking

  • Gifts provide a good opportunity to bring ethos and solidify relationships.

  • Warmth is linked with being friendly: when a warm cup was given to a person, they rated the person more warmly.

  • "By now you are wondering...." is a hypnosis technique that implies that you know what your audience is thinking. This creates a connection between you, and everything else that you say will be more interesting.

  • You can be likable by:

  1. Saying what the audience already thinks.

  2. Making people feel comfortable.

  3. Controlling the atmosphere/situation to your best advantage.

  4. Bring attractively - Grooming well.

  5. Similarities - Age, religion, politics, interests.

  6. Giving compliments - Tell people you like them.

  7. Contact - Familiarity usually results in greater liking.

  8. Working together - Use 'we' when talking.

28. Mirroring

  • Mirroring increases Trust. In negotiations mirroring resulted in deals 67% of the time compared to 13% (without mirroring).

  • Matching Verbalization: Repeating back what a customer ordered increased tips by 70%.

  • "You can persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his'.

29. Multiple Yolking:

  • Speak fast. Speak logically. With a succession of verbal punches. This will overwhelm your opponent and wow your audience.

30. Objections

  • Saying: "Yes, but...." causes resentment.

  • Start a chain of concessions. Offer a compromise on an issue (or an unrelated one) or admit you were wrong on a minor point or statistic. This will make people feel like they have beaten you and allow them to conceded on something else without looking bad.

  • Give the impression you are conceding a plan and not making a choice: "OK, so let's tweak/improve it"

  • Achieve a larger goal by admitting you are wrong on a smaller point: "You win. Now, how about we.....

  • 'In response to a major objection say: "9 out 10 times you would be right....and I believe you would in this case too, but it has unusual circumstances that make it a little different'. Explain the circumstances and tell him why it is in his best interest to do it your way.'

31. Personal Sacrifice:

  • Act as if the choice hurts you personally.

32. Pre-suasion

  • Persuaders often draw our attention to the most favorable feature before they talk about the product. For example: A furniture website that features fluffy clouds as the background on their website sees visitors placing more importance on comfort.

33. Promises

  • Make a promise that is: (1) Commanding (2) Specific (3) Desirable. For example: Earn your annual salary by working 4 hours a week.

34. Questions

  • When someone is condescending, smug or not listening to you. Ask a question and then remain silent until they respond.

  • To help find the real motives. Ask: 'Is there any other reason apart from [their initial one]'

  • Ask a friend to ask a question that would put you in a good position (during a meeting).

35. Reciprocity

  • Before you get to the toughest request (on a call to a customer service agent) tell the person how happy you are with their service and that you are going to write a letter of appreciation. After you have their manger's details, ask for one final request.

  • There are 3 major factors that influence reciprocity:

  1. Significance: When a waiter gave two candies with the bill it increased tips by 3.3% (compared to no candy) to 14% with 2 candies.

  2. Unexpected: One candy was expected and so when a second was given it inflated the tip.

  3. Personalized: The more personalized the request, the more likely the person will agree.

36. Rejection then Retreat Technique

  • Make a large request, something you know you'll be rejected for, and then ask for the item that you wanted initially. The optimal strategy is: exaggerate the initial position, but not too much.

37. Reluctant Conclusion

  • Be reluctant in something you are keen to prove.

37. Rhyming

  • Cognitive poetics have found rhyming leads to increased persuasion.

38. Self Generated Persuasion

  • One of the most effective persuasion tactics is self-generated persuasion via:

i. Group discussion. ii. Roleplay.

iii. Asking the person to imagine.

vi. Questionnaires asking for opinions.

v. Contests that ask: Tell us why you like our company in 50 words.

vi. Ask someone why they support an initiative.

39. Social Proof

  • Use: "Many people are saying...." to invoke social proof.

40. Tenses

  • Switch the tense to the future to avoid an argument going around in circles:

  • "How is blaming me going to help with (.....). Let's decide on a plan and figure out how we can get along"

  • "You may have heard my opponent brag about his past, but I want to talk about the future

41. Throwing a Low-Ball Technique:

  • The seller does not intend to sell at this low price, their only goal is to get the buyer to decide to buy. Once this is done a number of steps cement the commitment: Paperwork, financing, etc.

42. Trust

  • To build trust: Instead of mentioning only positive characteristics and leaving negative features until the end (or never), mention them early on. Use 'however', 'but', or 'yet' to divert the listeners' attention away from the weakness and on to strength.

  • Mentioning a drawback (or something against your self-interest) makes you more trustworthy which puts you in a better position to promote your strengths.

  • If you have an area in which your leverage is weak, mention it during negotiations, to make you seem more trustworthy.

  • You can make yourself seem trustworthy by acting against your own self-interest.

  • To persuade and move people from their current view, you need to make them feel at ease and comfortable.

43. The Curse of Knowledge

  • The more informed a person, the less likely they are to be persuaded by a one-side argument.

44. The Door-in-the-Face Technique

  • You begin by asking for a large favor and then follow up with a smaller ask.

45. Velocity

  • Speak faster when you have a weak argument, speak slower when you have a strong argument.


8 Memory Aids For Persuasion


1. Adjectives and Adverbs

  • The do's/don't of adjectives and adverbs (TIES):

  1. Don't TELL how great something is, let the reader decide.

  2. INFORMATION, not emphasis

  3. EVOKE the emotional response you are looking for. Do not describe your emotions. Readers do not care how the writer is feeling.

  4. SHOWING. Don't say it was night: show the reader it was night by saying "the moon reflected in the lake"

2. Contagious ideas

  • Contagious ideas have ( STEPPS:)

  1. Social Currency - We share what makes us look good.

  2. Triggers - What's top of the mind, will be on the tip of our tongue.

  3. Emotions - High arousal = Shareable

  4. Public - Design your product so that it can be shown to the world.

  5. Practical Value - Content that is useful.

  6. Stories - It is harder to argue against a story.

3. Influence

  • The 6 factors that can influence someone are: (SCARS L)

  1. Social Proof

  2. Commitment and Consistency

  3. Authority

  4. Reciprocation

  5. Scarcity

  6. Liking

4. Hidden Motivations

  • Our motivations are often not articulated. These hidden motivations are: (ER CRIES)

  1. Emotional Security

  2. Reassurance of Worth

  3. Ego Gratification

  4. Creative Outlets

  5. Sense of Power

  6. Roots

  7. Immortality

5. Shortcuts

  • When making decisions we often rely on shortcuts when we are: (iTURDS)

  1. Indifferent

  2. Tired

  3. Uncertain

  4. Rushed

  5. Distracted

  6. Stressed

6. Speech order

  • The best order for a speech is:

  1. Ethos

  2. Logos

  3. Pathos.

7. Sticky Ideas

  • Ideas that stick in people's mind are: (SUCCESs)

  1. Simple

  2. Unexpected

  3. Concrete

  4. Credible

  5. Emotional

  6. Stories

8. Words That Sell

  • Words that persuade and sell are:: (INSANE IQ)

  1. Improved

  2. New

  3. Suddenly

  4. Amazing

  5. Now

  6. Easy

  7. Introducing

  8. Quick





The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom: