Persuasion is the act of using a message or messages in order to influence other people to take a certain action or change a certain belief. The end result is achieved by presenting persuasive ideas and concepts to convince another person to see one's way. Advertising is one form of persuasion whereby a company tries to persuade consumers to purchase its products or services. Children utilize persuasion when they try to convince their parents to allow them to do something or go some place. Parents try persuasion when they want their children to clean their room or to study harder. People are constantly employing the art of persuasion trying to convince friends and neighbors to engage in some form of behavior.

There are two unique techniques that can be used when trying to convince or persuade somebody. They are most useful if one can combine them and use them in conjunction with one another. One is the verbal tactic whereby one presents arguments by using persuasive contentions that are based on facts. In addition, the use of big words, subliminal messages, yelling, swearing, name-calling and at times using taunting words can also do the trick. The other technique is the physical one. That would include flailing hands and standing tall. People will often concede an argument if the persuader thrashes hands or appears to be taller.

There are three levels of persuasion. The first level is to make sure the other person actually makes a decision. If the person just listened without coming to a conclusion, the arguments presented have not been convincing enough. The next level is after the decision has been made, to get the other party to take action and follow through on the decision. The next level is to make sure that the other partirs are so convinced that they will actually change their ideas and beliefs about something and act the same way when they are on their own.

Persuasion is a positive force that is found in nearly every aspect of social activity. It is a means of achieving and attaining something one wants, such as getting a grade changed, getting hired for a job, to get a customer to buy some product or to get people to vote for a particular candidate. If people want others to listen to and cooperate with them, the options are many.

One ploy a person can try is ignoring one's own wants and needs and hope that others may notice and comply. This tactic rarely works and the person gets frustrated and hardly ever realizes the desired goals. One must realize that at times the requests are impractical and can turn out to be counterproductive. Another ploy is the use of threats, force or violence to get one's way. Even if one has the willingness and the ability to hurt or punish the other person, it is still not a very highly recommended tactic. At times coercion works, but it carries the risk that the other person becomes obstinate when threatened. The most successful tactic is persuasion and is by far the most likely to succeed. When persuasion works, people will cooperate more readily and more willingly. When people do things willingly because of persuasion, they will perform a better job than if they were coerced.

The difference between coercion and persuasion is that coercion utilizes threat power so that the other person is not left with many options and surrenders. It is possible to get people to do as one wants by emphasizing the fact that one controls their positions such as salary etc. It is not always necessary to use threats of physical force. Although they will ultimately do what is being asked of them, it is not done willingly. Persuasion on the other hand gets the people to alter their actions or beliefs voluntarily. Although the method of persuasion is more tedious and can take a longer time, it is less likely to result in backfiring or even revenge and retaliation. The pent-up frustration and the removal of the freedom to make decisions can lead to adverse reactions. When forced to comply, human nature will dictate to fight back at the first opportune time. When using persuasive means the positive effects are dominant and violence is non-existent.

Persuasion: Selected full-text books and articles

The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century By Richard M. Perloff Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003 (2nd edition)
Rhetorical Style: The Uses of Language in Persuasion By Jeanne Fahnestock Oxford University Press, 2011
Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory, and Practice By Owen Hargie; David Dickson Routledge, 2004 (4th edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 12 "Influence and Persuasion"
Influencing through Argument By Robert B. Huber; Alfred C. Snider International Debate Education Association, 2006 (Updated edition)
Persuasion in Advertising By John O'Shanghnessy; Nicholas Jackson O'Shaughnessy Routledge, 2004
Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches By Richard E. Petty; John T. Cacioppo Westview Press, 1996
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