10. looking serious w both hands up

5 Easy Ways To Skyrocket Your Powers Of Persuasion

“Interesting idea. Let me think about that…”

“I’m not so sure about that…”

“No, I don’t think I can go along with that.”

As great as your idea might be, people are not always ready to accept it. As illustrated in the above colors, there are different degrees of resistance.

Therefore, if you’d like to win someone’s support for your idea, you have to persuade them that it’s a good one.

This can be challenging, especially if resistance is high.

Highlighting common sense and the power of simplicity, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner created the pragmatic bestseller Freakanomics in 2005.


In their follow-up, Think Like a Freak, they offer 5 easy ways to persuade people:

1) Understand how hard persuasion is –

Knowing an opinion is probably based more on ideology than facts is key to understanding how difficult it is to change someone’s mind.

2) Remember they have the only vote –

No other opinions count, only theirs. So take the time to make your best arguments, showing you value their opinion while building your case.

3) Don’t pretend your idea is perfect –

A balanced argument with the pros and the cons shows that your idea isn’t perfect. This is much more persuasive than pretending it is.

4) Acknowledge opponent’s strengths –

If you want to show that you hear and respect them, listen to the merits of their idea.

5) Influence them by telling stories –

A story can fill in knowledge gaps (what, why, how) and provide a powerful vision for what’s possible. Stories also relax people and spark imagination.


Stories Persuade

A lot has been written on the power of storytelling in recent years – see Al Gore’s transformation from boring politician to Oscar nominee.

Nevertheless, storytelling remains one of the best ways to communicate your message and to persuade others to see your side of things.

Here are Dubner and Levitt on why telling stories is great when trying to persuade someone who doesn’t want to be persuaded:

“A story, meanwhile, fills out the picture. It uses data, statistical or otherwise, to portray a sense of magnitude; without data, we have no idea how a story fits into the larger scheme of things.”

Do you remember Eve tempting Adam with the apple? Moses parting the Red Sea? David slaying Goliath?

Using the world’s best-selling book as an example, they go on to tell us that “people might forget certain facts from the Bible but they remember the stories…if you want to people to accept your unusual ideas, tell them stories.”


Raise Your Game

Your ideas and arguments can always be more convincing. You can always be more persuasive.

From a complex political issue to a change initiative at work, a lot of people are sitting on the fence.

So if you feel strongly about the merits of your idea, help them make up their mind.

P.S. If you’d like to grow your powers of persuasion, drop me a note and let’s set up a time to chat: info@tim-nash.com

  • Charlotte, Marco,

    Are there any other Common Sense Strategies that are missing for you?

    Or other tips you have when trying to persuade/influence others?

    Thx, Tim

  • Yes, absolutely. Cultural differences & preferences are always at play – especially when communicating and persuading. Thanks to both of you for highlighting this!

  • Culture would play a factor in persuasion too. Also – how to read people’s comments. An English “I guess we are not quite there yet” means to a German ear “Yes,.. just a few more pushes to make it over the finish line” whereas it meant for who said it “we are not even close”. The use of words can also vary; a “downgrader” culture uses “a little” or “sort of” while an “upgrader” culture might speak in words like “totally” or “absolutely”. It is necessary to hear closely and if necessary ask back and clarify.

    • Hi Marco,

      thanks for bringing up that very important point. Understanding direct and indirect communication styles to persuade are indeed a critical factor in persuading across borders.

      • Hi Charlotte – what approach helps you in reading a more indirect communication style? How do you then approach persuading them?