Five Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

1.  Don’t offer too many choices.  Whether it’s the number of products you offer or the number of plans you allow your employees to choose from, sometimes  you can offer too many choices, which often frustrates people.  Companies offering a small number of retirement plans have far greater enrollment than companies that offer a large number of plans.

2.  Request active commitments.  Ask in a way that elicits an active response.  One common mistake restaurants make when taking phone reservations is ending the call by saying “Please call if you have to cancel.”  By changing that line to “Will you please call if you have to cancel?” (followed by a pause for an answer), one restaurant owner reduced his no-show rate from 30 percent to 10 percent.

3.  Argue against self-interest.  Trust is a critical component to persuasion.  The surest way to be perceived as honest is to admit to a small weakness in your argument, product or business immediately prior to communicating the strongest pro argument.

4.  The threat of loss is more persuasive than the potential for gain.  Instead of telling your audience what they stand to gain from taking your advice or buying your product, tell them instead that they stand to lose out on an opportunity if they don’t take your advice or buy your product.

5.  Make people feel as if they’ve already made progress toward a goal.  A car wash offering a loyalty card nearly doubled customer retention by changing their offer from “Buy eight washes, get one free” to “Buy 10 washes, get one free–and we’ll start you off by crediting you for two washes.”

Excerpt from the book Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive (Free Press, 2008), by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B Cialdini, reveals 45 additional effective strategies to make you more persuasive. Available at, $10.10, $2.95 S&H.


About Robin Barr

I was born in New Jersey, and when I was 3, my parents moved to Southern CA where I've lived since in Covina, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, Laguna Niguel and now Mission Viejo. I love dogs and cats and compassionate about all living creatures. What do I do for a living? I invent problem solvers. Have you seen Cold Sores Begone™ or Canker Sores Begone™ in health food stores or online? Mine. I like using stuff that won’t kill me later so both remedies are non-toxic, safe enough for small children, and topical (I don't swallow pills easily). If you want to prevent a cold sore from materializing when you feel the early tingle symptom, apply a few drops of Cold Sores Begone™. Done. If you're plagued with those painful ulcerations inside the mouth (canker sores), apply a few drops of Canker Sores Begone™a few times a day, and it should disappear in 2-3 days. I was elated when PREVENTION and NATURAL HEALTH magazines told the world my two products work as promised. Afterall, I'm just an accidental entrepreneur. Read the circumstances of how I came to be a small business owner here, scrolling down to the paragraph header that starts with "If you're curious...". Everything above it is a repeat of this bio.
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