Have you ever wondered what makes you say yes to certain people more willingly than others? Scientists say there’s a science behind the art of persuasion that makes people bend more easily to certain approaches. Renowned Professor Dr. Robert Cialdini came up with the 6 elements of persuasion he believes is behind human behavior.

These elements are used by marketers all over the world to direct consumer behaviors and influence the public’s interest. They are also used by politicians, salespeople, and people from different fields, all with varying degrees of success. If you want to have more convincing arguments, whether personal or in business, you need to understand these persuasive principles fully and master them.


1. Reciprocity

Imagine you’re in a fancy restaurant. After serving your meal, your waiter comes to your table and offers you a free mint courtesy of the restaurant, and then he turns back and offers you a second one on him.

When it is time to tip, you would want to return the favor by adding a little extra to appreciate him for the mint he gave you earlier.

That’s the law of reciprocity. This exact scenario was observed in a study, and they found that giving an extra mint increased a waiter’s tips by 14%, and offering the extra mint as a special favor increased it by 23%.

Human beings love receiving favors, and they are usually compelled to repay those favors in any way they can, and in this case, it was by increasing the tip.

When using this persuasion tactic, always make sure you’re the first person to make an offer.

Also, try to make the offer look as personal as possible. Make them feel like you only offered it to them because they’re special or extraordinary.

That way, they feel obliged to you and are more receptive. The basic rule of getting this element of persuasion right is to give what you expect to receive. This can be in the form of small gifts, respect, acts of kindness, or favors.

2. Scarcity

Scarcity is what the basic rule of supply and demand relies on. People want something scarce or not readily accessible to others.

Most times, it’s because of the feeling of exclusivity it gives them, and also because it makes them feel special. You can see many examples of companies and businesses using this theory of scarcity to promote their goods and services.

Sometimes they produce a limited number of a particular product and market it as exclusive, or they place their products at a high price, which excludes a good number of the population. The value of the product is not enough: let them know how unique it is, and they will appreciate it more.

Using this approach is delicate and requires a bit of background work. First, the favor, service, or product has to be described as exclusive or one-of-a-kind. The language you use in presenting matters a lot because that is what builds a background for the product.

Focus on describing how difficult it is to get. This makes it a bigger deal for whoever gets it as they will feel privileged to have it.

Even if you’re offering a favor, make sure to let them know that you don’t do it for everybody, and they will feel indebted to you that whatever you say next will be received more readily.

3. Consistency

Consistency in this context involves finding active and willing participants who are ready to do some voluntary favors for you and then banking on those initial commitments to get more out of them.

The key here is to find people, who are willing to get involved in the first place, then their participation will give credibility and integrity to the movement, and you’ll find others who will lend their participation after seeing the actions of the first set of people. A lot of people are more willing to do things they had previously done or said.

The first step is to find volunteers. If you have to force anybody to get involved, then you aren’t using consistency as an element of persuasion.

When you get your volunteers, you ask them to do a little favor for you – one that isn’t difficult to agree to. It has to be something they won’t find difficult to do. Then, make this action public.

Publicizing it does two things; one, it obliges them to come through with doing the favor for you. And, other people will see it as a sign of accountability and credibility.

When you have people that are willing to stick to their word, you can get them to do more things for you on the strength of the first agreement.

4. Authority

People will always take the word of an expert in any field, so you have to make it known that you have experience in the field, and you are qualified to speak on the topic.

If they don’t see you as an authority figure on the topic, you will find it harder to convince people of your claims.

Never allow people to assume you know what you’re talking about. Instead, state your qualifications clearly and allow them to come to the realization that they can trust your word.

If you walk into a psychiatrist’s office, you will most likely find their diplomas and degrees hung up on their wall for all to see. That is their way of showing you that they are suitably qualified for what you want them to do. The same thing happens in politics.

The candidates have to show that they are qualified for the position they are contesting because this determines how the voters see them. Would you vote for someone with no experience or qualifications? Probably not.

If you don’t want to display your credentials, you can subtly let your audience know of your skills in conversation or through personal stories.

5. Consensus

People are heavily influenced by public and social behavior. This is the rationale behind influencer and celebrity marketing. People want to use what they see others using because that is a sign of acceptance and credibility. This isn’t limited to only celebrities and popular people.

A lot of people are also influenced by their peers and people they know. Using this tactic, you can also influence how people think, feel, and respond to certain situations. Simply by letting people know what others in their shoes do is enough to convince them to do the same thing.

For example, if you want a group of people to respond favorably to a situation that they normally wouldn’t find a vocal member of the group and recruit them to your side.

Ensure that they proceed to talk about the situation publicly, and within a short while, you will find other members of the group parroting the same opinion.

This phenomenon is called groupthink, and you can use it effectively in your favor. The key to using this efficiently is to get that first person to start the conversation and sway the other people’s minds.

6. Liking

Who are you more likely to listen to, a stranger or someone you know and like? The majority of people prefer to do business with someone they like, rather than a stranger they just met.

But how do you make someone you just met like you? Research has shown that people gravitate towards 3 types of people

  • People that have similar interests with them
  • People that work with them to achieve similar goals, and
  • People that pay them compliments

So, when you need to get people on your side, you need to take advantage of these 3 things. First, find things you people have in common. It can be as simple as a movie you both enjoy or a favorite childhood TV show.

Then, pay them thoughtful and well-meaning compliments that are based on the truth, so they don’t come across as empty flattery. Lastly, show them that you’re as invested as they are in your joint goals and ambitions.


The endpoint of any argument is to convince the other party of the accuracy of your views and hopefully win them to your side. At the very least, you hope to get them to see your side of the argument, which is why you need to know how to make a compelling and persuasive argument.

Persuasion comes in different modes, and these modes are the foundation of any argument you hope to make. Without them, you can’t make a convincing and confident argument.

These modes of persuasion are the meat of any argument, and the way you harness them in your argument determines how you come across to your audience. They are:

1. Ethos

Ethos is a Greek word that translates to “character,” and it is what qualifies you to make the argument. When you state an argument, you should present a reason that gives you the authority to make that argument. Ethos is the reason why you don’t go to a lawyer for medical advice, and an artist for legal advice. Ethos asks the question, “why should I believe you?” and that is a question you should be prepared to answer.

You can get people to develop trust and confidence in you when you open yourself up to them and show that you either have the experience, or you have passing knowledge on the topic. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily take medical advice from a lawyer, but if he has gone through the same illness, you will be more inclined to believe him.

Another way of cultivating people’s trust is by showing that you genuinely care about them and the situation, or getting other people to back up your claims.

2. Logos

Logos refers to logic or reason, and this mode of persuasion is one of the most effective.

Basically, logos is used when your appeal to people’s common sense, and give them a solid reason to believe your argument.

Many people won’t believe your argument based on just what you tell them; they demand facts and proof that your argument is factual.

The best chance you have with using logos s to ensure that every argument you make is backed up by facts and figures that can stand up to inquiry.

3. Pathos

Pathos is a very effective mode of persuasion, and it can be very convincing, especially if used correctly.

As the literal meaning, “emotion” suggests arguments based on pathos appeal to a person’s emotions without necessarily requiring factual backup.

Human beings think with their emotions a lot, which is why you can easily sway people to your side when you pull on their heartstrings and show that you relate with their feelings and emotions.

The best way to connect with people emotionally is to tell stories. People are more willing to connect to someone who has similar experiences with them. Pathos doesn’t also have to be restricted to sad emotions and experiences. You can talk about joyful experiences in a descriptive way to captivate your audience and get them on your side. One popular argument based on pathos is the “I have a dream” speech by MLK Jr.

4. Kairos

Kairos is one mode of persuasion that recently became more recognized. The word translates to “time,” but it doesn’t mean the same thing as the Greek word for time, Chronos. On the other hand, kairos means “the right time” or “the best time” to do something. It simply means identifying the best time to state your argument or creating that time.

An example that best showcases kairos is a seasonal advertisement. Yes, you can advertise Christmas gifts in June, but the best time to make people buy them is advertising during the Christmas season. This tactic is commonly used by marketing companies, but you can use it in your interactions.


1. Name Drop

Name dropping is an art that should be used carefully. When used properly, it makes a convincing argument and gives you more credibility. For example, people are more interested in using products or services that celebrities and other influential figures use or endorse. This is why many advertisements use celebrities as ambassadors.

Also, experts and academic authorities can help give your arguments more integrity.

People want to know if your claims are backed by science, studies, or experts in the field. But, when you name drop too frequently, or in a tactless manner, you may get different results.

2. Make Claims that are Backed by Facts and Not Opinion

Facts don’t lie, and they remain facts regardless of what you think. To make a compelling argument, make sure you can back it up with as many facts and numbers as possible. Logic is a very effective way to convince people because they cannot argue with proven facts.

3. Tug on Heartstrings

Humans are emotional creatures, and sometimes they can get led and moved by their emotions regardless s of what the truth might be. Sometimes, you only need to get people to relate to your feelings of happiness, sadness, grief, or anger for them to be won over to your side. Emotions sell, and they are more effective if people are convinced that you feel the same way.

4. Get People to Trust You

People don’t want to follow just anybody; they’d rather go with a trustworthy person. Sometimes, your claims may be backed by logic, but some people still won’t listen to someone they can’t trust.

If you’re open about your experiences and get them to trust you, you are more likely to convince them and bring them over to your side.

Source: Convert

Source: Convert

5. Present Yourself as an Average Person

People love to believe that someone they put on a pedestal is a normal person like them. Being relatable to the average person helps to humanize you and give you something in common with your audience.

A lot of politicians and celebrities use this tactic when they record themselves eating a burger in a downtown diner, or getting involved in normal household chores.

People love to see their lives being replicated in someone supposedly more important than them, so you need to get them to see that relatable part of you.

You can achieve this by telling childhood stories of you doing things like an average child, or revealing a normal and everyday fact about yourself.

6. Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions are asked without expecting an answer, and they act by revealing an obvious fact.

When faced with such an obvious question, the first reaction of your audience will be to answer the question in their heads.

This makes people more engaged and receptive to you. This technique gets people to convince themselves of the merits of your argument without you forcing them into it.


The elements of persuasion are relevant in most spheres of life, and they can get you places when you use them correctly. However, these techniques and principles can be easily abused and used in manipulative ways. When used in this manner, it becomes an ethical foul and is something you should avoid. Understand and harness these priceless principles to improve your arguments, relationships, and business.

The 6 Elements of Persuasion Explained

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