People are social animals—we interact and influence each other in complex and mysterious ways.
Through research on social behavior, psychology, and the brain, we are starting to learn more about how these interactions work.
Good writers are making the results of this research available to a wide audience.
- Daniel Pink: To Sell is Human, The Surprising Truth about Moving Others
- John Medina: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School
- Charles Duhigg: The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business
- Michael Pantalon: Instant Influence, How to Get Anyone to Do Anything—Fast
- Daniel Kahneman: Thinking Fast and Slow
- Jeffery Pfeffer: Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t
If you are in the business of finding, winning, and keeping customers for your company (i.e. Sales and Marketing), this flood of research-based information can get a little overwhelming.
How do all the pieces fit together? Is there a practical framework you could use to organize your knowledge on influence and persuasion?
Which brings me to the best book on persuasion that you’ve never read.
This book is not based on the latest scientific research.
No, this book is based on methods used for over two thousand years by the best minds of each age. Ideas that have been obscured and relegated to small university departments.
This book is not written by an entrepreneur who made a fortune influencing others. One who is now going to teach you how to do the same.
It’s written by a magazine writer and publisher.
Jay Heinrichs is his name. His book is Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson can teach us about The Art of Persuasion.
Why do I think this is the best book on persuasion (that you’ve never heard of)?
First, it’s methods are time-tested. They’ve been refined over, I am not kidding, thousands of years. Starting with Aristotle in Greece, then Cicero in Rome, through the founding fathers. Before mass communication, people used these ideas to learn how to persuade others.
The ancients considered rhetoric the essential skill of leadership—knowledge so important that they placed it at the center of higher education. It taught them how to speak and write persuasively, produce something to say on every occasion, and make people like them when they spoke. After the ancient Greeks invented it, rhetoric helped create the world’s first democracies. It trained Roman orators like Julius Caesar and Marcus Tullius Cicero and gave the Bible its finest language. It even inspired William Shakespeare. Every one of America’s founders studied rhetoric, and they used its principle in writing the Constitution.
Rhetoric faded in academia during the 1800s, when social scientists dismissed the notion that an individual could stand up to the inexorable forces of history. Who wants to teach leadership when academia does’t believe in leaders?At the same time English lit replaced the classics, and ancient thought fell out of vogue.
Second, it gives a framework to think through, how to organize what you want to say.
Heinrich explains how to:
- Set your audience goals and the tense of your argument. Are you going to change their mood (easiest), their mind (harder) or their willingness to act (hardest)?
- Decide whether you want to emphasize character, logic, or emotion in your appeal to others.
- Make sure that you’ve picked the right time (in the buyer’s journey) and the best medium for persuasion.
He explains when to use story in your argument, why concession turns your opponent’s argument to your advantage, and how to frame the bounds of an argument.
Heinrich will even show you the Eddie Haskell ploy (make an inevitable decision against you look like a willing sacrifice on your part.)
“The boss wanted me to sell you the Platinum version of our software. But I told him you were too practical for that. The Gold version pretty much has everything you need anyway. And it’s a lot cheaper.”
The customer was never going to buy the Platinum version anyway. But you’ve made his inevitable decision look like a concession on your part. Classic Eddie Haskell.
Heinrich is engaging and wildly entertaining. He sprinkles his text liberally with examples from our own time (Homer Simpson, Obama, and Johnnie Cochran). And he leaves you with a clear framework to organize what you learn from all those other books on persuasion.