Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Joseph Conrad is credited with saying “Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.” Short quotations often make very complicated and difficult tasks seem “easy” or “simple.” When it comes to persuasion there is very little about it that is easy. It takes broad based understanding of people; focus on the processes that are used by those people to arrive at conclusions. Then you mix in your ethical understanding so that long-term good results from your persuasion.

Start with “the right word.” This implies an understanding of the people you are addressing which allows you to come very close to how they mean about that “right word.” For example, in the news recently we have heard about a teacher that let “her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad. The teacher is back in England now, but she experienced first hand how people might react to a lack of understanding of public reaction to one word. Of course, it isn’t only the word.

“The right accent” is also part of their reaction. They might even be able to allow their children to name a teddy bear Muhammad within the context of their own home. But, to have someone that carries the context of a visiting professor from England allow, read encourage, their children to use Muhammad in any way might lead to a negative reaction.

In simpler terms, you might call you significant other “Funny Face” with only a positive reaction. But, if I tried to refer to your significant other as Funny Face you might very well slash my tires.

Persuasion may seem like a fairly straight forward and uncomplicated subject when it is viewed casually and from the point of view of a single sentence, but when it comes right down to it, persuasion is a difficult task and deserves a great deal of our attention.

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