Magazine article USA TODAY

The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion: The Agenda-Spin Model

Magazine article USA TODAY

The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion: The Agenda-Spin Model

Article excerpt

THE ONLY AUTHENTIC BOOK OF PERSUASION

The Agenda-Spin Model

by Richard E. Vatz

Kendall Hunt Publishing Co. 2014, 107 pages, $39.99

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Is it wrong to wish I could require every marriage therapy client and counseling-program graduate student to read this book? With that very sentence, I have laid out the parameters of the discussion, skewing the likelihood that you will wonder what sort of book is relevant to bickering married couples and aspiring psychotherapists. In doing so, I have enacted one of the essential principles of persuasion described and explained so effectively in this enjoyable volume.

Richard E. Vatz makes explicit how the person who controls what is, and is not, up for discussion and how the discussion is framed sets an agenda. The way questions are worded impacts emotions and the kind of information that is recalled. We ignore large swaths of information, attack the speaker, inject emotional arguments, or just switch topics.

At age three, I responded to my beloved Nana's attempt to tell me I was naughty by pointing out a flaw in her appearance. Spin starts young.

It is not all bad, of course: we psychotherapists use this routinely to help clients step outside their entrenched view of a problem to gain a new perspective, but it is a helpful reminder that everyone using communication is, in fact, engaged in some sort of persuasion, whether they acknowledge it or not. …

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