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Covert Persuasion, Part 1 Date Posted: 9/30/2004

Persuasion E-News

This short email newsletter is designed to be read in a couple of minutes and give you a tip or technique you can use to help you be more persuasive with the people in your life, both at work and at home. Enjoy!


Covert Persuasion … (a multi-part series in the fundamentals)… Persuasion Fundamental #1…

Several people have asked me exactly how to persuade a co-worker, or potential customer … so, in an effort to focus on a couple of the fundamental core concepts in this exciting field, I’ve created a series of articles to answer some of these questions. This is the first in this series. I’ll send one out each week. If you would like to know more, or are looking for a speaker for your company or organization … or would like me to share more of these detailed persuasion tactics with your sales force, simply send me an email at, or visit my website: and check out my speaking/training topics.

"When I’m getting ready to persuade a man, I spend one-third of the time thinking about myself – what I’m going to say, and two-thirds of the time thinking about him – and what he’s going to say." – Abraham Lincoln

Part 1: Knowing exactly what you want … and I mean exactly!

Persuading people without them realizing what you are doing … is the key to truly successful persuasion because the target person feels that the decision they are making is completely their own. Research proves that decisions we make on our own have a much greater degree of commitment than decisions thrust upon us. We like the feeling of being in total control of our time, life, and decisions … but in reality, we’re usually being directed, guided … persuaded.

Persuasion tactics are being used on us all the time (I’ve discovered over 200 of them!). You’re degree of awareness of these methods is directly related to your ability to truly and freely make your own decisions.

So, how can you covertly persuade someone in your life to do something YOU want done?

It’s a relatively simple process … but it’s not easy. The nuance of verbal and non-verbal signals are a delicate balance. It’s also true that "everything matters". Every single thing you do (or don’t do) previous to, during, and after the persuasion attempt is critically important to a successful outcome. And that’s a critical word: outcome …

So what is the fundamental first step?

Step One: Know exactly what you want the other person to do, say, think, or feel.

This means you have to think into the future and really plan out what you want the result to be … what do you want the future to look like? What result do you want? What does it mean to you … and to the target person?

Most people are ineffective when trying to persuade other people because they miss this critical first step. They usually know what they want the other person NOT to do … but they spend little or no time directing the other person to the outcome they really want, primarily because they really don’t know what that is!

The key is allow your mind to jump ahead in time and look back to the present. Spend a couple of seconds thinking about what the best case result is in the future … then come back to the present and begin creating it.

This concept of knowing exactly what you want the other person to do, think, feel, or say is similar to … driving your car. For example, you don’t just get in your car and drive and hope that it ends up somewhere good. No, you know the destination you want before you even put the key in the ignition. You know the exact roads you’ll take to get there. You even know how to re-route yourself if a road is blocked or closed for some reason. You have a destination in mind and you’ll do what it takes to get there. You won’t simply go somewhere else … or stop at the "road closed" sign and turn your car off. No, that’s not acceptable. So, you’ll find an alternate route and keep going. You will do whatever it takes to get to your destination.

Persuasion is like that. If you know your final goal … exactly what you want the other person to do, think, feel, or say … then you have an excellent chance of making that happen. You need to be absolutely clear about that outcome. Your clarity will be powerful. And just like the car, if you run into a "roadblock" in the mind of the other person, you won’t stop. You know your desired outcome and you know that you haven’t reached it yet, so you will keep going. This is where you’ll use specific persuasion tactics (one or two of the over 200) … while keeping sight of the end goal.

So, the first fundamental persuasion key is: Know exactly what you want.

Next week, I’ll send you the second fundamental key to persuading others. In the mean time, if you want to find out more about me, check out my website at

Bonus: What should you watch for in the Presidential Debates?

These are VERY interesting. This is entirely about persuading people. Specifically, each candidate is trying to appeal to the "undecided" voter. Now that’s a pretty small percentage of people! Most people are decided, or at least leaning more one way than the other. As soon as someone starts to "lean" they begin looking for only the information in the arguments that confirms their beliefs … thereby making them right.

People can be – and usually are – stubborn. They will hold onto beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Body Language that is "out of character" for each person. When you see gestures or movements that are uncharacteristic of that person …it is usually a sign that they are over-rehearsed, not natural, and therefore not coming across as genuine. This is a killer … literally an election killer.
  • Rate of eye-blink. Generally speaking, the faster the rate of blinking, the more likely the person is not telling the entire truth. You have to be very careful of this one because the person could also just be nervous. The key to telling the difference is to know the way the person performs in other settings … or in other times (like the beginning of the debate vs. the heat of the questions).
  • Pace of talking. Usually when someone is trying to be untruthful, they will generally increase their rate of speech. Fast talking, when it’s uncharacteristic is a red flag.

After the debates are over, send me an email of who you think did better. We can analyze their individual attempts to persuade the American people to vote for them. I’ll look forward to your emails!

Have a great week!

Jim Speakman

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