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Ways To Learn Persuasion

Dec 27, 2007
I had a student ask me recently, "Kenrick, how do you keep track of all of these persuasion strategies? Every time we have a conference call or seminar, you pull out another technique adding to the dozens and dozens of techniques we've already learned. I can't even remember to use the 'unconscious hello'."

When you learn a new language, are you fluent in a week?

When you learn a new instrument, can you play Rachmaninoff after a couple of lessons?

Persuasion is a subject that is just as complex as learning a new language or a new instrument, possibly even more difficult because it's ever expanding. If you've ever learned a language, and you practice this language, you will know all there is to know. Persuasion is different. It's an ever expanding subject that continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

The best way I know to become a world class persuader is to master the basic principles. Mastering the basics requires you to do what people do when they're learning something new: you must practice.

Learning has been traditionally broken down into five different categories: imprinting, habituation, associative learning, observational learning and play.

Imprinting is associated with young animals and humans. It is a phase based learning. This is the process by which babies learn from their parents. Imprinting has no use for us in learning persuasion, obviously, except for the brain state which we can achieve by the utilization of light and sound machines. The brain state resembles very closely the learning brain state of imprinting in the very young.

An example of habitual learning is when an animal first responds to a stimulus, but if it is neither rewarding nor harmful then eventually, the response diminishes. This kind of learning rests mainly in the other-than-conscious.

In persuasion the two types of learning that we most often utilize are observational learning and play. With observational learning, we observe and repeat. Observe and repeat. It's that simple. So when my student asks about the 'unconscious hello', I say, observe and repeat.

The last type of learning, play, is possibly the most enjoyable. At the end of each of my conference calls I assign home play. I love the concept of play and playfulness. It can enhance our experience not only of persuasion, but of life. Too often as we grow up and forget the benefits of play.

We're all successful in our fields. Many of us have high pressure work environments. And yet, I can't help thinking that part of what we do when we meet for our quarterly meetings is quite playful. Role playing, camaraderie, even the occasional game. Some play is unrestrained and has no outcome, but our play has a clearly defined goal, as does our work.

To my frustrated student, I say, persuasion is playful. It is observation. It is habitual. It is repetition. It is emulation. It is commitment. It is intention. Be persistent. Persuasion comes in time.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion techniques.
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