The Science of Persuasion: How to Use Psychology to Persuade Others

Have you ever thought about why we make the decisions that we do? We may not realize it, but many of our actions are influenced by other things, including the words and body language of others. Understanding the psychology behind our own behaviors can help us better understand how to persuade others. At some point in your professional life, you might find that you need to convince people to invest in you or your product. You may also need to persuade others in the workplace to see things from your point of view. In these instances and many other situations, knowing how to use psychological persuasion can be a valuable tool. 

What is Persuasion?

It is important that you don’t confuse persuasion with manipulation, as the two are very different. Persuasion is done with good intentions in an attempt to show someone a different perspective. You want them to comply with you using their own free will. It is not forceful or coercive, but simply a respectful way to sway someone and influence their behavior. 

How to Persuade Someone with Psychology

1. Create a Need

One method of persuasion is to use a strategy in which you appeal to someone’s fundamental needs. You suggest that they purchase your product or service or agree with your ideas in order to feel happy, safe, secure, or admired. You offer your goods or services as a tool that is necessary to satisfy these important needs. 

2. Appeal to Social Needs

This strategy is often used in television commercials and on social media to appeal to viewers by creating images that depict an ideal lifestyle. People are persuaded to purchase products in hopes that it will give them the same look or lifestyle. 

3. Charismatic Terms

Some words are more persuasive than others, so choosing the right verbiage can make a big difference in your conversation. When you incorporate words such as “guarantee,” “proven,” or “progress” into your argument, you can usually persuade people more effectively. The same is true for words like “dangerous” or “risky” when trying to convince someone not to do something. These words can sway the way people think and feel about a concept or viewpoint.

4. Reciprocity Norm

A common social norm involves an obligation to return a favor done by others. This is a highly effective negotiating tactic because you may offer a special deal or throw in a bonus in hopes that the other person will return the favor by accepting your terms or purchasing your product. 

5. Scarcity Principle

We saw this all the time in advertisements for products and services. It is the idea that what you want is in short supply, so you better act quickly if you want to get it. Examples might be, “Just for today…,” “Hurry, only a few left!”, “Sale ends tomorrow,” or “Supplies won’t last.” This elevates the other person’s desire for the product or service because they are anticipating that they may miss out if they don’t act fast enough.