Most Good Communication is Elicitation and Persuasion

I just started reading Robert Cialdini’s new book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.  This book has been on my “to read” list since receiving pre-publication notifications from Dr. Cialdini’s organization, Influence at Work.  I have long been a fan of Cialdini’s work on influence and persuasion.  I use it frequently in my own communication and in my communication courses.  
As I work though this book, I will share some thoughts on how to integrate good persuasion skills into your communication.  For now, I will share some other articles on influence and persuasion.

Why do we communicate at all?

Why do we talk to others, write that email, or send that text? So many of our waking hours are involved in communication. Do we ever take the time to consider why? Perhaps we should.
I would suggest that most often there is a reason why we communicate. Think about it for a moment. How frequently do you talk to someone without a goal in mind?  Even in casual conversation, you likely have goals. At the very least, you want others to believe what you say is true and accurate.

Goal-Based Communication

We could summarize all our reasons for communication under two headings. Those headings would be goals and objectives. Most of the time, people do not take the time to consider what goals and objectives they have for a conversation. But they have them.
The words goals and objectives are often used interchangeably. To clarify how I am using them here, let me often the following short definitions. Goals are that which we are ultimately trying to achieve. Objectives are aims we try to accomplish to help us achieve our goals. This is how we use these two words in Intelligent Communication.
Looking more closely at these two headings, I will add the following ideas. Our goals are most often persuasion in some form. Our objectives are generally elicitation.


Elicitation can take two basic forms in communication. The first is information collection. We gather information about the other person to better understand them. Therefore, we can adapt our communication strategies to make them more effective. We might collect information that will enable us to understand the other person’s personality. In addition, we might inquire about a person’s past.  Our objective would then be to understand how they have responded to  similar circumstances in the past.
We can also attempt to elicit specific responses or behaviors from others. Perhaps we want the other person to agree on a minor issue to move them closer to an agreement on a bigger issue. Agreement on the bigger issue might be our goal. This form of elicitation specifically supports using the influence technique of consistency and commitment. For more information on consistency and commitment, see Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Science of Persuasion.


Ultimately, most of our communication is persuasive. Political candidates are currently using speeches and political ads to persuade people to vote for them. Companies produce commercials to persuade you to buy their product. Businessmen are attempting to persuade potential clients to work with their firm. All of us try to persuade others, friends, children, significant others, to do something we want them to do. Think about this. How many of your conversations do not involve persuasion? Like I noted above, at the very least you want others to believe what you are saying. That involves persuasion.

Intelligent Communication

To communicate effectively, i.e. persuasively, we must communicate with the goal in mind. We designed the Intelligent Communication approach to be a goals-based approach to interpersonal communication.


One of the key parts of the Smart Talk model is what we call the Guideline. As its name suggests, the Guideline guides our interactions. It guides them towards the specific goal we have for the interaction. It also helps us identify and achieve the interim objectives that will make achieving our goal possible.
Contact me if you want to learn how to make your communication more effective, by making it more persuasive. We can help you integrate Intelligent Communication practices into your work and personal life.
My favorite tip to being more persuasive is the same tip I give for becoming a better communicator overall. Be swift to hear and slow to speak.
Photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via / CC BY

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