The fastest way to win a person’s mind…is through their heart

August 16th, 2012 by Briana Cummings

The basic psychological premise behind effective persuasion is that people only do things for emotional reasons. Logic is something they use to justify a decision they’ve already made or an action they’ve already taken.

Effective persuasion therefore relies on appeals to emotion rather than appeals to reason. This is why Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People pairs the idea of influencing people with the idea of making them like you, and why one of the most popular quotes I have seen on the topic of persuasion is all about playing on people’s subconscious emotions:

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies. ~ Blair Warren, sales copy writer

Encourage their dreams. This bypasses the other person’s conscious mind by tapping into her subconscious need or desire for respect, prestige, etc.

Justify their failures. This works in politics and advertising all the time. We all carry with us a weight of failed endeavor after failed endeavor. Take this weight of the other person’s shoulders by finding something else to blame it on. (Note: I am not a fan of using other people as scapegoats. But, for example, you might blame someone’s busy schedule for their failure to keep up with friends, or their laudable attentiveness to friends and family for their failure to get a promotion at work.)

Allay their fears. First you need to identify their fears. You can learn their fears by slowly bleeding it out of them (aka, listening).

Then, you need to allay these. Don’t try to allay all their fears; just the top two or three.

You will only be able to allay someone’s fears if you yourself appear strong and unafraid.

Just telling someone not to be afraid will not make them feel less afraid. But sharing a story about someone overcoming a challenge or surviving a similar set of circumstances can do wonders to allay someone’s fears.

Confirm their suspicions. Along these lines, “The only way to win an argument is to lose it.” The best way to win someone over is to tell them they were right.

Help them throw rocks at their enemies. Nothing unites people like a shared enemy. Again, the enemy does not have to be — and probably should never be — another person. It can be a hardship, a philosophy, or a bad experience.

2 Responses to “The fastest way to win a person’s mind…is through their heart”

  1. August 16, 2012 at 3:02 am, Negotiation | Law School Disrupt said:

    […] (4) Flatter them. Recognize their achievements or sacrifices. Show you’re thinking about their needs. See my post on Persuasion 101. […]


  2. September 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm, The art of persuasion | Law School Disrupt said:

    […] Flatter them. Don’t be over-the-top, but subtle cues can work magic. Recognize their achievements or […]


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