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The Art of Persuasion

Lesson 4 of 19

People Softeners


The Art of Persuasion

Lesson 4 of 19

People Softeners


Lesson Info

People Softeners

We're gonna go now into cats. And throughout this, I can't help but bring up cats. 'Cause seriously, if you can persuade a cat to do something, you are gonna be master of the universe. I'm still working on it with my cats. So okay, we've gotta do our vote here. I need a show of hands, how many of you are cat people? Okay, how many are dog people? Okay, it's bipartisan here, Louise. You're cat and dog people. Yep, good. I kinda am, I grew up with cats and dogs. But I kinda went overboard with the cat thing. Probably because they're fascinating rhetorically. They're great to study. Alright, so here's what I want you to do. And this is, we're getting into personal attention optimization in a bit and we're gonna start working this on you right now. Smile, please. Just give me your best smile. Even, like it doesn't matter how fake it is. Just smile. Good, alright. You feel like you feel the love? I'm feeling it toward you just seeing you smile. Alright, now. I know you're supposed to stay s...

eated, so pretend you're standing up, alright? Just stretch, give me a stretch. Like a nice stretch. Now like extend your arms out like this, okay. Feeling good? Does that feel good to do that? Keep smiling, you're not allowed to not smile for a little bit here. Now let me explain to you why cats are better than dogs. (audience laughing) For one thing, they smell better on average. You don't have to walk them usually. They're independent thinkers. And you know, if they love you, you have earned that love, right? They are truly honest creatures. So that's why cats in so many ways are superior to dogs. Dogs are just too easy and uninteresting rhetorically, really. Okay, now. Stop smiling, stop! Some of you are still smiling, you've gotta stop. Okay, frown. Crunch your brow down. Now imagine a trigonometric equation. A squared plus something squared equals something. Okay, remember when you were taking math exams? I mean if you were anything like me, they were awful, okay? Let me explain to you why cats are better than dogs. That's great you're still frowning, I just absolutely love that. Alright, what am I doing here? I'm showing you what it feels like, 'cause you know what it was like to take a math exam or something else really hard. Like did you have trouble writing an essay exam? Did you do that in college? You know, you would like scrunch over, your shoulders would be like this, you'd be frowning, right? Nobody smiles happily while writing an essay exam, right? Under a deadline. Okay, so this is what we're talking about, is this personal attention optimization. That's my term. It has to do with getting your audience in the mood and it comes from not just rhetorical theory but from neuroscience and behavioral economics. We're talking about two things, and I wonder if you've heard this before. There are two sort of patterns of the brain, two systems as they're called. And if you've ever read Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow, there's a book to read. I mean, it's a big, fat book but I found it totally worth it and I got a lot of what I'm talking about out of that particular book which is confirmed by the theories of rhetoric as well. In system one, that's the frowning, hunched over. You know the statue of The Thinker, you know? That's system two. It's you are thinking really hard, you're thinking about complex things. Now what's happening after you take a math exam or you write an essay under deadline is you're actually burning a ton of energy. If you feel tired afterwards, you're not just having a tired brain, your body is actually tired. You are burning massive amounts of glucose in the brain, of energy. Your brain uses a lot more energy than you think. And so we have evolved not to do that too often. In other words, we humans, homo sapiens have evolved not to think too often. And the thing is, when you are in system two, that is a very difficult state to persuade people in. So if you are explaining things in a complex way and you see people frowning, some of you are, like hunched over like you're still remembering the exams, then you're actually gonna have an audience more resistant to your persuasion. Then there is the Homer Simpson-like state. System one, which behavioral economists and psychologists call cognitive ease. And what does that mean? It means you are feeling comfortable, at ease. You're also feeling kinda happy. You're relaxed, you're not thinking too hard. And at the same time, you're feeling as if you're in control of the situation. So there are several ways that you can do this, to achieve cognitive ease. One is to talk about very simple things. So to give you a sense of your own cognitive ease, give me a few answers here. What is one plus one? Two. Seattle is in the state of? Washington. You knew that, huh? Apples and? Oranges. Okay, you didn't have to think, did you? It's just like automatic, right? That's system one. Now you get people, if you're talking about the obvious like that, and sometimes talking in cliches can help if you're not absolutely boring people. Get them to participate in it. You're gonna get them in system one. Easier way to do this, by the way, is if you are trying to talk to a potential new client who hasn't signed yet or if you're applying for a job, get yourself a little lower. Don't raise your seat above the other persons. Because you want them to feel as if they're powerful and in control. It's gonna make them more likely to be persuaded by you. Try to get them to smile. Don't tell inappropriate jokes, but if you can get them to smile, use a little bit of a sense of humor, that helps too. One of the things I tell people, and we're gonna get back to this a little later with the art of decorum, of fitting in with an audience. And this sounds stupid, but it totally works. Send love beams out of your eyes. Before you walk onto any, and I did this by the way today, I said before I came on, it was easy for you guys. I said to myself, I love these people. And I do this even when I'm talking to a group I think I would probably not want to meet in a back alley. I still say it, you know, I love these people. And then I try to express through my eyes that love. And we're gonna get back to that. What that does is it gets people to feel at ease with you. And so if you yourself are feeling uncomfortable, obviously people will pick up on that. Alright, here's the other part of attention optimization here. And that is, you've got 'em in the right mood, now you wanna grab their attention. And to grab their attention, you need certain, I call 'em hooks. I'm not the only one that calls 'em hooks. And there are some really basic hooks. One is that obviously you have something they want. Often you have to describe what they want. So one of the most famous campaigns of all time was Listerine. Remember that, Listerine? Does anybody use Listerine anymore? Listerine is this like awful tasting stuff. And it wasn't selling well enough. So the ad agency who came up with the campaign came up with a disease nobody knew they had called halitosis. You know about this? This is bad breath. Like, so it wasn't just bad breath, it was halitosis. And Listerine was the cure. So I have something you want, it's an obvious great hook. It's like, oh my gosh! I didn't know I had this disease in the morning when I wake up before I kiss my loved one. Another hook is, you have a problem, I have a solution. Again, Listerine kinda worked for that, right? And again, some of it has to do with asking questions. But you don't have to. You can tell people what their problem are. In marketing, some of you may know this, it's called a threat statement. And a threat statement is simply like, here's what's going wrong, here's what's going to get worse in the future, here's the solution for it. So you can get people in system two in the beginning, say you've got a problem, and then you immediately get 'em relaxed into system one. Don't worry, got it all solution here, smile. And then this is really important. I don't think people do it enough. This I fun. And one of the things I teach people, I teach groups how to do presentations to pitch business. And one of the things I say to them is, at the very least, make your presentation, your pitch, the most enjoyable part of the client's day. Like, at least do that. Even if you lose the business, you've just helped people. They're gonna go home and be nice to their dog or cat. But at the same time, if they do feel that way, you're gonna keep 'em in system one. This I going to be fun, we're not just gonna make money or solve problems together, we're gonna have a good time. Now we've talked about how to get them in the mood, how to get their attention. One of the things you've gotta avoid is misattention. Sometimes getting the audience's attention is not a good thing, right? They may be paying attention to the wrong things or misinterpreting what you say. So one misattention trap here is doing your persuasion stuff in the wrong occasion. Men are particularly prone to that, I think. Maybe I'm just speaking personally here. I had a friend, we were talking earlier about proposing marriage by jumbotron at a football game. One of my favorite clips if you go online is to look at these videos. This is an evil thing to do, but I can't help it. Where a man has proposed to a woman at a football game and the woman does not want to say yes. And yet all the cameras are on the woman and up on the jumbotron it says will you marry me? And the woman's just dying a thousand deaths. And you know, what an idiot a guy is doing that. That is a classic misattention trap. Because she's definitely paying attention, but he's got the wrong occasion to get her attention. So that's something you absolutely need to avoid. No jumbotron thing. I had a, similarly, a friend who proposed marriage to his beloved while rock climbing. He's a passionate rock climber. She, not so much. His idea was to have the wedding ring perched on a ledge in this like famous climb. What could go wrong? So we managed to talk the guy out of that. They did go rock climbing. Once they were down, he gave her the ring. That's good to avoid misattention. Again, he would totally get her attention if suddenly she looked down to see something golden and glittering flying down into the ether, you know? That's misattention. Timing, we talked a little bit about timing. One of the problems with timing is that you may, again, get the person's attention but it could be angry attention. So it's really important not to try to talk somebody into something when they're in a bad mood or it's entirely inappropriate. And I can speak personally, don't ever try to get your loved one to agree to buy a giant flat screen TV while she's paying the bills. I learned that the hard way. Alright, so that's timing and timing is really important. And so this is something that we're gonna talk about later on. Actually, the ancient Greeks and Romans invented gods to timing. The Greeks called it Kairos, which is the art of the occasion. How do you read the occasion? And then we're gonna get back to that question about how do you read an occasion. And at the same time, the Romans came up with a god later, called Occasio. That's where we get the word occasion from. And the cool thing about Occasio was he was this beautiful young man with like curly locks in front. And he was entirely bald in the back. And the reason for that is where the expression comes from. And nobody uses it anymore. And you should. Fortune is bald behind. In other words, an occasion ages quickly. So you know, curly locks in front, young man, he's actually an old guy in the back. That is Occasio. And if you can think in terms of that, like you wanna be able to seize the occasion as well as a cat does. And we're back to cats again. You know, a cat will follow, like track a fly, for hours, right? With passionate attention and then suddenly spring at the perfect moment to catch that fly. That is rhetoric at its best. If you have the right kind of timing, you actually don't have to be that good a persuader. So one of the things you need to ask is, is the time ripe? Is this the right time to do things? And by the way, "the time is ripe" comes from Shakespeare who studied Kairos, the art of timing and occasion. I'm gonna bring you back to Shakespeare and cats as much as I can here. Then the environment. Is it noisy? Are people uncomfortable? Are they in a good chair or an awful chair? Are they looking like they need to leave the room? For like, biological reasons, say. And then your own quirks can cause misattention. If people are paying attention to something ridiculous, like for me it's always salad. I have magnetic teeth. So every bit of lettuce, I don't think I've ever actually digested a leaf of lettuce in my life. It's always up on my teeth. That is really bad if you're trying to pitch a client during lunch or whatever. You know what I'm talking about. But also, your quirks. So if you say um a lot, if you begin every sentence with the word so, you're going to-- What did I just do? You're going to attract people's misattention. They're gonna be paying attention to the wrong things. One of my bad habits by the way, you may have noticed, is I bounce a lot on my heels. Which I'm sure the video editors are gonna absolutely love that I'm sort of juddering up and down. You know, again, if you're talking to a group, you wanna be able to avoid the quirks, get rid of them. We're gonna talk a little later about your demeanor when you give a presentation. Okay? Ready for the next one? Or not, yeah ,or not. Yeah, we've got a couple questions. So let's get to those, grab a mic in the studio audience and again, you can ask your questions by looking over to the right hand side of the video player and click on questions and that's where you can get them in. Okay, so this question is applicable. Okay, so what would be a good example of a hook to use in a cover letter or even if you're in a job interview or just to impress somebody on a professional level? We're gonna talk about cover letters when it comes to sending your resume in for a job, but it also can be if you're meeting a request for a proposal. So we'll get into cover letters, maybe we should skip that part. But what would be a hook, is it in a meeting? Yeah, just to impress someone professionally. And maybe it's somebody that you don't know. So here's a no-brainer to walk in with. Problem, solution. What's the problem, or what's their gap? We use a marketing term, white space. What's the white space? Which could be like, who's the ideal audience who's currently not buying the product or doing what they're supposed to do? A lot of my work is based on that kind of white space. So there's also a kind of white space that's a blank in people's lives. What's missing from their lives? So what you need to do before you walk into the meeting, you think, what are the gaps there? What's the white space? Are they trying to reach an audience they're having trouble with? Is something going wrong and can they fix that? That is the ultimate. In a business meeting, that's the ultimate hook, isn't it? Like, they have a need and you have a solution to it. You can meet that need. Does that make sense? Yeah, thank you. And one more, this is kind of combining two questions from Robin. So what if you never feel that it's a good time? Like, the timing is always wrong? And then you've kind of lost your opportunity perhaps to get that hook in. So yes, person says, so my timing always seems to be off. I feel like I have that good hook, but not saying it at the right time. That's really, you know, that is one of the most difficult parts of persuasion, isn't it? That you just let the time pass. You're just like waiting for the opportunity. This is why I didn't play football past sixth grade. I was always supposed to tackle this person with a football. By the time I figured out who had the football, like what should be my path to try to get the person, the person would have scored a touchdown. I was awful at this. And I find often that analogy coming to my mind when I've missed opportunities. And we all do, so you don't have to feel like you can seize every opportunity. The thing to think about though is ripeness. This is again from Shakespeare and cats. Is this a time when it's not necessarily the perfect moment, but a good one? You feel comfortable, you're ready. And so one of the biggest problems with timing has to do not with whether the audience is ready but whether you are, right? And so often what happens, and when people think they're missing opportunities a lot, it's because they're feeling a little nervous about whether it's the right time. And you sort of give you the excuse to wait a little bit longer? Do you feel like that sometimes? That's, I feel like that a lot. And so some of the things we're going to talk about is how to make yourself feel more comfortable. And some of these tools should help you do that.

Class Description

Each day, in every aspect of our lives, we’re confronted with situations where we need to persuade. How do we persuade our kids to clean up their room? How do we persuade a coworker to complete a project? How do we persuade a Facebook friend that their position is misguided?

Some of us choose not to persuade and instead resort to inpatient quips or angry rants. Many of us choose silence, then leave the room frustrated and brooding about what we should have said to win the argument.

Best-selling author and consultant Jay Heinrichs will teach you the basic tools of persuasion so you can avoid bitter confrontations and instead come to satisfying agreements. You’ll discover how being more articulate, using logic and controlling your emotions can create better, stronger, happier relationships.

In this course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Set goals for yourself when it comes to arguments.
  • Parent your children better through persuasion techniques.
  • Bring people together and build more cohesive teams.
  • Get people to like you with caring, craft and cause.
  • Avoid being manipulated.
  • Know what to say in awkward situations.
  • Be more articulate in the heat of the moment.



I read Jay's book, Thank You For Arguing, a couple years ago, and it was life-changing! The course is terrific too and absolutely worth taking to learn how to communicate more effectively with other people, particularly anyone who may not understand or agree with your perspective or whose support you may need for something but don't know how to ask for or get it. Like in his book, the advice, ideas, and strategies Jay shares in this course will help you become a more confident communicator and also have more successful and happier interactions and relationships as a result. Highly recommend!

Malgorzata Syta

Excellent course for those who want to learn how to argue efficiently and respectfully. I've read Jay Heinrich's two books and was thrilled to see he had a course on here. It helped me consolidate the extensive knowledge I gained from his "Thank you for Arguing" (great book!). Unlike some, I loved his quirky presentation style! But then, as a huge fan, I'm biased!

Kc Mace

I really enjoyed this class. It was chock full of information that I will be chewing on for awhile. I love hearing the examples after learning the process. It helped with the understanding of what we had just gone over. I would recommend this class for everyone, whether it be for your job or your life in general. We all need these skills in our arsenal. Jay Heinrichs does a terrific job in his instruction of these rhetoric concepts.