What do fears and anxiety, wants and desires have to do with your ability to persuade others?
In order to be persuasive and influential, you must understand that we are all, as human beings, motivated to avoid pain and anxiety and to achieve our specific and personal wants and desires.
If you want to be ethically persuasive and to become more influential – not just for a short while, but powerfully and permanently – you must discover what worries and delights those who you seek to persuade.
The process of discovering what makes those around you afraid or delighted is, in itself, a process that builds trust and makes you naturally more persuasive and influential. How? Well, you cannot really discover what motivates others or what horrifies or worries them, without asking them questions (either directly, or through technology such as surveys). And, the very act of asking questions about another person and showing genuine interest in their answers makes you more persuasive.
You have shown an interest in the things that interest others. And that is so rare, that it almost always gets noticed.
But here is a distinction that can make you money, make you more powerful, and more trusted and therefore more persuasive, so people will listen to you in a more profound way when you have shown them that you are interested in them and that you want to give them true value.
People are way more likely to act to avoid pain and anxiety than they are to achieve pleasure.
That’s right, and it seems hard wired within us and it is quite profound. Now that is not to say that you should not employ both tactics when being persuasive, when teaching, or when marketing. But, if you must emphasize one over the other, then count on the avoidance of pain to win out every time.
If all of this sounds manipulative, then you’re right. But remember, that all communication is manipulation.
Only your intent behind the communication distinguishes it. Think about it. Whenever you communicate, you are trying to entertain, market, teach, or to convince someone to do something (or not to) for some reason. Those reasons may be good, and well intentioned. But always ask yourself: “Am I doing this for a positive reason and for the benefit of this person?” “Have I really uncovered what this person wants so that I can be more ethically persuasive?”
But assuming that you are acting appropriately, remember that all influence and persuasion must be based on knowing the fears and concerns of those you’re trying to influence. The very act of asking builds trust. People will act more often and with more energy and power to avoid pain than to achieve pleasure.
So become more persuasive in a way that people will trust you for the long run. And when you do, life will get better in many ways, and for many reasons.