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  • Writer's pictureSyed Ahmed

25 Ultimate Secrets of Persuasion

From Aristotle's Rhetoric

This is a list of 25 persuasion secrets which people consciously or unconsciously use to persuade or influence others. We can learn a lot about how people are influenced from philosophy and psychology, this is an effort to unite the power of both. You may find it harsh, rude or completely unemotional and manipulative. This is an effort to help people realise how they are manipulated everyday by the media, politicians, advertisements, and even by people they live or work with.

The intention is not to hurt anybody but to make people more aware and in control of their own lives and decisions. We request you to go through these with a rational bent of mind and use these for the good and betterment of our society and loved ones.


This piece of work is not for or against any religion, political party or culture. We do not intend to hurt anybody’s feelings. We take no responsibility for ill use of these powerful persuasive behaviours, reader discretion is advised.

Ethos - Establish the credibility of the Speaker:

1. Good Health

Work on your health - Look fitter and healthier, people who look healthy and are well groomed are perceived to be more in control and provide safety and shelter which everybody needs in this uncertain and complex world.

2. Dress well

Dress like a leader in your profession, people make perceptions about us even before they talk to us by just observing how we look. When they accept us as an authority visually it influences their listening, hence our ideas become more powerful persuaders. This also happens because in our minds we associate a well-dressed person with sincerity and authority.

3. Speak well:

Speak slowly and stay calm and composed, we are perceived as more in control when we don't hurry up or are not acting like hyper active kids. When we speak slowly, we are also more in control of our thoughts and flow of speech. Learn the art of pause, a pause is nothing but silence, a pause creates a gap in the picture, listener’s mind wants to complete the picture and hence get completely absorbed in the speech or discussion.

4. Prepare and organise

a. Conviction:

Speak with total conviction, never display self-doubt by saying, “I think” or “correct me if I am wrong”, speak as if you can never be wrong and you never make mistakes (Never say or believe this just show, it creates the God complex in the listener’s mind). When we see people who totally believe in what they are saying we believe them. And at no point of time contradict your idea.

b. Complexity:

Complicate it, we are inherently lazy and give up very easily also perceive mystic value in things we do not understand. When we see a complicated solution or explanation to our needs we tend to regard it highly and are ready to pay whatever the price is.

c. Coherency:

There has to be a logical flow of ideas wherein the dots are connected and there is no astray idea. The strategy is to apply Norman distribution curve approach in your speech by building up the curiosity in the beginning, introducing pivotal points in the middle and the crux of the discussion in the very end.

d. Comprehend:

Before addressing the audience, it is crucial to develop a proper understanding of their belief systems, cultural values, moral ethics, political sensitivity and demographic setting. When the opinion you presented appear aligned to their thought process a sort of magic happens and you can rest assured that the cat is in the hat.

5. The Good and Noble

  • Appeal to conformity: Talk about rules and regulations, talk about controls. People find these good as they assure safety and security

  • Appeal to courage and fearlessness and selflessness for a noble cause

  • Spread news about the good work that you have done, like social work, a noble cause that you contribute to

  • Show that you are just like the other person, make them feel you are part of their group, social strata, you have similar hobbies, favourite things, you have gone through the same challenges

  • Show others that you are better than the other options, not by degrading the other but by emphasizing your advantages. Also first get their agreement for a higher sacrifice and then accept a lesser one, they will be delighted to conform.

  • Talk about morally correct things, the socially accepted and respect religions and norms, people like other who have the same moral values and are noble in their thoughts

  • Correlate prosperity with moral uprightness and goodwill and cite instances from the past or the contemporary world (which may include your own self) to support your claim.

6. Create Curiosity: Freemium

Disclose partial information, do not tell them everything you have, tease them with little information and they will stay hooked. The possibility of them coming back for more is high if they like it, that’s when they can be easily persuaded to follow your commands, this is similar to speaking slowly with pauses.

7. Quote the noble

Quote the credible people from the past and present. People who are leaders and have inspired masses. People will start believing in you if they believe in the authority you are quoting and for that you need to have a proper understanding of their cultural, political and demographic backdrop.

8. Do favours:

Add value to people’s lives, find out what you can do to help others around you, as per the principle of reciprocity, when we add value to somebody’s life they are morally indebted to return the favour.

Pathos- Appeal to the emotions of the audience or listener:

9. Threats

  • Create pseudo threat, make them aware of the impending danger if they do not follow your suggestions

  • Exaggerate the consequences of the threat, tell them a story about somebody else, make them see, hear and feel the exaggerated consequences

10. Listen to the unsaid:

A better listener is a better leader. Listen keenly for needs, wants and desires of the individual, also listen for the pain and troubles in their lives.

“Good days are ahead” This time Modi Government

11. Speak what they wish to hear:

Talk about what others need, like and desire. We all want to hear about our needs and desires, it also makes the listener feel that we care for their wellbeing. This results in trust.

12. Self esteem

  • Ask questions about the person's background, person's current reality and desired future

  • Connect with people on things which are common like place of birth, favourite dish or restaurant

  • Give assurance of results not guarantee, our minds usually do not differentiate between guarantee, warranty and assurance. Have you ever seen a stamp which says "100% satisfaction Assured"?

  • Bring into limelight the unique personality traits that only they possess. Glorify the role they play or will have to in the days to come and let them return the favour.

13. The best is yet to come

  • Always talk positive and give people hope of a better future

  • Portray a utopian world before them that can only be actualised if the guidelines that you provide are religiously followed.

14. Anger:

Anger is an outcome of many triggers some of them are: bad news, going against one’s beliefs, insult, unfulfilled needs, aspirations and desires or a feeling of helplessness. All of these are/can be used in persuading people.

Make your audience believe that you too are dissatisfied with their current scenario and share the same level of resentment against the common oppressor. Channelize their emotions to get the desired results.

  • Bad news: people get into shock when they hear bad news, the subconscious nervous system takes over and they stop thinking, this is time when they are most suggestive, this is visible in Mob mentality, a small trigger creates a ripple effect and people are easily persuaded

  • Insult: Whoever is insulted will not forget it, they always look for ways to take revenge of the insult, We see people getting easily persuaded against someone who insulted them.

  • Unfulfilled needs and aspirations: People whose basic needs (Food, shelter, and clothing) are not satisfied will be angry, also people who feel that they deserve more, if not given will get angry.

  • Helplessness: The feeling of being trapped results inanger, whoever will feel trapped physically or mentally by themselves or others will develop anger

  • Challenged beliefs: Our character is made of our values and beliefs, it’s the character that defines us. This is built after years of reinforcement of our social, cultural and religious beliefs. When someone challenges these beliefs it shakes our foundation, like an internal earthquake, we feel devastated and quickly look for shelter within our beliefs. This results in hostility towards the threat hence can easily be manipulated by the persuader.

  • Dormant dislike: Many a times we are unable to properly assert our feeling of disgust, mistrust, annoyance, hatred because we fear a backlash from the society. With the passage of time we do learn the art of concealing them if not be able to lock them in the deepest dungeons. The stark reality is that such emotions never sink into oblivion. Such emotions are similar to that of latent volcanoes that may erupt without any notification. Ever wondered why there is a tension between the whites and the blacks even today? Why Germans are still despised by the Jews?

15. Fear:

Amplify the looming danger to let your listeners switch to the survival mode and once their subconscious mind take control, present yourself as their Saviour (the Messiah).

16. Status quo:

Talk about status quo, people like and feel safe in the ways they do things and the way they think, stay in comfort zone scared of change and uncertainty and will feel threatened by your proposition if you try to change the status quo, tell them that they don't have to change to do what you want them to do. The change you want to incorporate has to be slow and steady, people do not react to incremental changes and completely change with time without realising that they have changed.

17. Pity:

Appeal to the pain that people are feeling, this could be feeling of being trapped, jobless, sad, poverty. Amplify the plight of the oppressed and question them on the humanitarian ground to awaken them from the deep slumber, once they will begin to look at the miseries of the world in a different light, the first and the foremost response of the awakened man will be to acknowledge you as the Eye opener. It will enhance their faith in you to a large extent.

18. Indignation:

Make people aware of the success that their competition is getting. It is difficult for people to accept defeat or they can’t see there competition doing good or better than them

19. Envy:

Make people envious of their competition, make them feel lesser in comparison with their perceived competitors. Envy, indignations and jealousy are the biggest persuaders. Tell them if they follow you, they will have an advantage over their competition

20. Jealousy:

Talk about the new, the bigger, the better, the easier, and the faster. Make them feel what they have is inferior and what you offer will be advantageous and superior

Logos - Support your argument with logic and social proof:

21. Masses are right:

Show that a lot of people believe and are going for your idea, product or service

22. Certified is right:

If it is recommended and certified by a legal or expert authority it must be good

23. Time tested is good:

If your product has passed the test of time it is good.

24. Evidence is good:

Support your arguments with research, data and surveys

25. Rare or abundant is good:

Whatever is rare is precious, be niche, be special, be unique and always show supply is less and demand is high. You can also be abundant, be everywhere, be accessible, be approachable, and make people realise you will be there to help and support, just like an after sales service network.

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