Tag Archives: persuasion

Doesn’t Hurt to Ask by Trey Gowdy – Here are my six lessons and takeaways

I presented this book at the October, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis

I presented this book at the October, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis

Do you know what it is you are trying to persuade someone of? Have you studied it thoroughly, examined every aspect of it, and cross-examined it in your own mind?  
In 1650 Oliver Cromwell, imploring the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to step away from their pledge of allegiance to the royalist cause, said: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.” In other words, Consider the remote possibility you may be wrong.
The question is: Are you open to something you have not already thought of? …Don’t we have to be willing to do what we are asking others to do, which is to be persuadable?
Trey Gowdy:  Doesn’t Hurt to Ask


Persuasion is a challenge; a real challenge.  It is not easy to persuade. Anyone. Including yourself. Think about it; how easy would it be to change your mind about something that matters to you?

Trey Gowdy is a former Prosecutor, and former member of Congress.  And, he is honest about the difficult task of trying to persuade people in Congress.

And he has written a book that I found useful, and enjoyable to read.  (Mr. Gowdy is one of those “Southern funny” guys.  I’ve got a brother like that).  His book is: Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Using the Power of Questions to Communicate, Connect, and PersuadeIt shot straight up on the New York Times list of best-selling business books (#2 in October). 

And, whether you are a Republican (his Party), or a Democrat – or a salesperson, or a leader in your community, or on a work team — you will find this book a true thought exercise, and something of a tutorial, on persuasion.

I presented my synopsis of this book at the October 2, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis.

In my synopses, I provide comprehensive, multi-page synopses handouts.  Here are some of the key excerpts of my handout for this book.

What is the point? — People hold incomplete, or incorrect, or harmful, or dangerous, ideas and viewpoints. …Learning how to persuade is how we help people move forward in their own lives; and in our own. Learning to ask questions is a key element in our efforts to persuade.

Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons:

#1 – This book is filled with stories from some very specific arenas of persuasion; the courts, the congress; and life itself.
#2 – This book lays out the steps in the process of persuasion.  It is a thorough tutorial.
#3 – This book reminds us that we need to engage in self-persuasion before we seek to persuade others.

Here are a few of the Quotes and Excerpts from the book that I included in my handout – the “best of”Randy’s highlighted Passages:

• The most effective persuaders listen as much as they talk. The most effective persuaders ask as many questions as they answer. Asking questions, in the right way and at the right time, may well prove to be the most effective tool you have.
• I left the courtroom because the questions were better than the answers. I left Congress because the questions never matter in politics. Almost everyone in Washington, DC, already has his or her mind made up. …I do not recall a single person’s mind ever being changed during a committee or floor debate during the eight years I was in Congress.
• While I may be a cynic, much of persuasion is about idealism. It’s about open-minded people who can have meaningful dialogue about what it is they truly care about. 
• And that should be our objective in persuasion: striving to communicate and to move those with whom we are interacting. To move someone from a yes to a no. To move someone to a maybe. To move someone to see our side. To move someone to get a new angle and new perspective. To move them to feel what you feel, to see what you see, to think what you think. Move them to do what’s worthy, what’s good, and what’s right. Move them to hire you, to give you a chance, to give you more responsibility. Move someone to take a chance on your idea. Move someone to invest as much in what you are trying to do as you have invested.
• The minute you make a false declarative, you lose credibility with the person with whom you are talking or whoever might be listening. 
• There are so few things I fully understand. 
• The person you end up persuading may wind up being yourself, and sometimes that is the toughest jury of all. 
• Debating is science. Persuasion is art.
• First I ask myself, What do I know? Then, How do I know it? Last, What are the limits of my knowledge? 
• Learn how people think. Learn what motivates them. Learn what moves them. Learn what inspires them. Learn what scares them. Learn where they are. How they got there. And what it would take for them to move to something or somewhere else.  What do people want? What do they crave? Where do they derive meaning and worth? Juries are a collection of jurors.
• There is a reason I begin many sentences with “Are you open to…?” No one considers herself or himself to be closed. So of course they want to be “open.”  The burden of persuasion to get me to “consider” something or be “open” to something is much lower than getting me to accept or participate in something. That is true with most of us.
• What happens when we are insulted is that we become simultaneously defensive and aggressive.
In every congressional hearing I participated in, there was something I really hoped did not come up. • I believe in having a plan and I doubly believe in having a plan for the worst-case scenario. What is your plan?
• Silence is the greatest attention grabber in the world.
• When you are talking to a large group, remember that they are not listening as a large group. …But fundamentally people hear on an individual level.

Here are some of the key points from the book:

  • We are all in the persuasion business:
  • the need to competently process and communicate information toward a desired outcome is every bit as essential on your job site as it was on mine.
  • What is persuasion?
  • Persuasion is not about winning arguments—it’s about effectively and efficiently advocating for what it is you believe to be true.
  • Persuasion is about understanding what people believe and why they believe it and using that to either debunk or confirm their position. Persuasion is subtle, incremental, and deliberate. It has the potential to be life changing.
  • Getting someone to do something they were not planning on doing. Convincing someone to buy into something they never knew they were looking for. That is persuasion.
  • Persuasion – the “old way” – (declarative statements)
  • When it comes to the art of persuasion, we have typically been led to think of the following format: opening statement, make a point, state an argument. Then there’s a long stream of declarations, statements, affirmations, presentations, proclamations, pronunciations to slowly build an argument with as few holes as possible and as many powerful assertions as one can fit in a breath. That’s the traditional model. But what if there is a better way?
  • Persuasion – the “new way” – (asking questions)
  • Questions can gather the time, the information, and the interpersonal connectivity to persuade in ways that simply proclaiming what you believe cannot accomplish.
  • Gowdy’s main point:
  • since all persuasion is self-persuasion, then…
  • ask questions – a lot of questions – to help a “jury” arrive at the conclusion the persuader believes is correct. Therefore…
  • therefore, all questions were so that they could arrive at the truth of their own accord. … Most people can attempt to persuade by saying what they believe and why, but can you persuade by asking the right questions, at the right time, in the right order? More important, can you, in essence, have the person with whom you are talking convince themselves?
  • The Persuader and his/her Jury
  • every persuader has to identify, and then seek to persuade, the jury he/she faces
  • the jury has to be open-minded before there can be any hope of persuasion
  • “jurors” need to be people of humility; and open-mindedness THE MOST PERSUASIVE ARE THE PERSUADABLE
  • I’d spent most of my life growing up around similar kinds of people, but if you do not understand all people—people of varying backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, religious beliefs, experiences, and thought processes—you will never be an effective communicator.
  • Persuasion is incremental; step-by-step…
  • If you can remember one thing, remember that the art of persuasion is not about winning people over. It’s about bringing people closer together.
  • Think of persuasion as change. Think of persuasion as movement. Think of persuasion as incremental.
  • The steps of persuasion:
  • identify your objective, your purpose, your end goal.
  • know (or gather) all the relevant facts that undergird your position
  • spend some time considering the other side of the issue or request.
  • have a clear sense of whom, or which group, you are trying to move, persuade, or convince.
  • Now the calibration. (Burden of proof) — How much persuasion is enough to move the person on the point you are trying to make? Call it burden of proof.
  • Some practical disciplines:
  • Practice!!! — Every closing argument ever given in a courtroom was given pushing a lawnmower weeks before. I play it out in my head before it ever happens in real life.
  • Put your argument in the best possible order — One thing almost everyone will tell you is not to bury your best facts or arguments in the middle. …I would tell you to start with your very best fact first.
  • Develop greater empathy. — empathy is powerful. Empathy connects us. …So, sit down. Listen to real people. Know how they think. Know what they think. Know why they think it. And then—if at all possible—feel what they feel.
  • Cultivate sincerity — If you don’t believe what you are saying, no one else will.
  • Real emotion moves. Contrived emotion repels.
  • Be engaged — If you cannot be sincere—if you cannot be authentic—you can, at the very least, be engaged. You make eye contact. Your body language is welcoming, not repelling. You listen.
  • Be likable — Part of being likable is understanding human nature and those characteristics most of us share.
  • Never lie — The number one credibility killer when it comes to communicating your perspective to others is lying. Lying is not simply making a false statement. …The worst is to make an intentionally false statement that is material to a point in question, with the intent to deceive. People can, will, and do forgive almost anything in life. But they are loath to forgive an effort to intentionally mislead them on an important and material point.
  • Learn to use repetition effectively — But redundancy and repetition not only firmly imprint the information in the mind of the listener, they are also code for “This is important so I am going to say it over and over and over again.”

And here are my six lessons and takeaways:

#1 – You could be wrong about some things – even some very important things. (And, so could I).
#2 – You will not change for the better if you are not open-minded.
#3 – You will not change for the better if you are not listening to people who can help you make such moves toward change.
#4 – You will not help others change for the better if you do not help them arrive at their own reasons to shift, and move, and change.
#5 – Questions really matter.  Ask questions.  Many questions. Start with questioning yourself.
#6 – And, in all matters, tell the truth; never lie. This is foundational.

This is a fun book to read.  And it will remind you of the power of asking good questions, from the perspective both of trying to persuade others, and of genuinely wanting to learn.  And, the power of listening.  I encourage you to check out the insights in this useful book.


And I included this footnote in my handout: revisiting Aristotle, and the ancients —

  • logos – the logical appeal (get the facts right)
  • ethos – the ethical appeal (the credibility of the persuader)
  • pathos – the emotional appeal (the emotion/passion of the persuader; the emotion used to appeal to the audience)
  • {mythos – the narrative appeal}


You can watch a video of my synopsis presentation, recorded from our event, on YoutubeClick here to access that video.

And, you can purchase my synopsis, with the audio recording of my presentation, and my comprehensive, mutli-page synopsis handout, on this website.  We have many, many synopses to choose from.  Click on “buy synopses” to search through book titles.  Or, click here for our newest additions.  (This synopsis will be uploaded soon).

Download the Synopses Handouts for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis – October 2, 2020 – Doesn’t Hurt to Ask and How to Be an Antiracist

Over 190 people joined in on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis August gathering. We had

Click on image to download handouts.

Click on image to download handouts.

participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

Friday, October 2, 2020
7:30 AM Central Time




Friday, October 2, 2020 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses: Doesn’t Hurt to Ask by Trey Gowdy 
and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, October 2, 7:30 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux
Click here to join in on Zoom


Meeting ID: 828 8286 2662
Passcode: 991931

Click on image to download handouts.

Click on image to download handouts.


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: October 2, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis

Time: Oct 2, 2020 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


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You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.

The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger – Here are my seven lessons and takeaways

The Catalyst, BergerOne definition of persuasion:
Changing someone’s mind, attitude, or behavior.


Have you ever changed your mind?
Have you ever shifted your thinking?  A little?  Or a whole lot?
Have you ever been persuaded to buy a product or service?  Maybe a product or service you did not even know that you needed?

From the earliest days of any thoughts about communication, we have been interested in how to persuade others.  One wording for the definition of rhetoric, from the classical genius Aristotle, was “rhetoric is the art of finding the available means of persuasion.”  And, he recommended three primary means of persuasion:

  • logos – the logical appeal – your message makes sense; is logical
  • pathos – the emotional appeal – your appeal stirs the emotions of your audience, pointing in the direction of your message. And, you demonstrate emotion in the delivery of your message.
  • ethos – the ethical appeal – you come across as credible; you know your stuff; you are trustworthy; and you come across as trustworthy. You do not seek to mislead.

Though we do not know the source of this, there is also a fourth appeal (some near-contemporary of Aristotle), a fourth means of persuasion:

  • mythos – the narrative appeal. Your use of stories, you inclusion of the audience into the ongoing story, can be a very persuasive tool.

And, this is critical:  no one of the four is likely to get the job done.   A combination of the four is likely what is needed.

All of this is ancient wisdom.  And yet people do not change their minds very often.  And a whole lot of experts, with their very best efforts, do not succeed at persuading others as often as they would like.

Here is one reason;  I am fully convinced that persuasion is not something that I do to you or you do to me; persuasion is something that I do to myself; and you do to yourself.

In other words, all persuasion is self-persuasion.

That idea – that all persuasion is really self-persuasion – is an idea worth keeping top of mind.  And if it is true, how does one persuade others.  Maybe we don’t.  Maybe we simply act as a good catalyst for that other person, to help them persuade himself/herself.

This role of catalyst to help others persuade themselves is pretty much the much the heart of the excellent book by Jonah Berhger:  The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.  I presented my synopsis of this book for the May First Friday Book Synopsis (delivered on ZoomYou can watch my presentation by clicking here).

As with practically all for the books I present, I fully recommend this book.  If you are in sales; if you are seeking to gain agreement with team memebrs, of a client, or…anybody..this book would be worth a careful reading.

The book is filled with good, truly illustrative stories; to many to mention in this post.  But here are some of the elements of my synopsis (I included these in pretty much all of my presentations):

  • What is the point?
  • Use all the strategies you can, but understand this:  all persuasion is self-persuasion.  Your job is to be the catalyst to help enable self-change.
  • Why is this book worth our time?

#1 – This book explains why persuasion is so very difficult.
#2 – This book explains why so many messages attempted messages of persuasion have practically no chance of working.
#3 – This book provides some strategies that make persuasion possible; while demonstrating that all persuasion is self-persuasion.

• Some Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages:
• Everyone has something they want to change.  But change is hard.
• People have a need for freedom and autonomy.  …Consequently, people are loath to give up agency.
• Before people will change, they have to be willing to listen. They have to trust the person they’re communicating with. And until that happens, no amount of persuasion is going to work.
• Change is hard, because people tend to overvalue what they have.
Everyone is worried about the risk of doing something new. …they tend to spend less time thinking about something equally important: The risks of doing nothing.
• When the status quo is terrible, it’s easy to get people to switch. They’re willing to change because inertia isn’t a viable option. But when things aren’t terrible, or are just okay but not great, it’s harder to get people to budge. …Terrible things get replaced, but mediocre things stick around.
• If we just share more evidence, list more reasons, or put together the right deck, people will switch. But just as often this blows up in our faces. Rather than shifting perspectives, people dig in their heels.
• Venture capitalists often refer to products and services as vitamins or painkillers. Nice-to-haves (e.g., vitamins) that can be put off until later, or need-to-haves (e.g., painkillers) that people can’t live without.
• Give people a choice between a certain, good thing and an uncertain but potentially better thing and see what they pick. You probably said you would pick the sure thing. … Why? Because people are risk averse. They like knowing what they are getting, and as long as what they are getting is positive, they prefer sure things to risky ones.
• New things almost always involve uncertainty, so if it’s not clear how much better something new will be, might as well play it safe and stick with the status quo.
• The one that explained the most variance in the studies he (Rogers) reviewed, was a concept he called “trialability.” Simply put, trialability is how easy it is to try something. The ease with which something can be tested or experimented with on a limited basis.
• The easier it is to try something, the more people will use it, and the faster it catches on.

Here are some of the key points I pulled from the book:

  • Get this — this is the whole ball game:
  • all persuasion is self-persuasion.To lower this barrier, catalysts encourage people to persuade themselves.
  • the “persuader” is simply a “catalyst” for self-persuasion
  • Pushing harder does not workWhether trying to change company culture or get the kids to eat their vegetables, the assumption is that pushing harder will do the trick.
  • The problems; the enemies of persuasion
  • the power of inertia – Just like moons and comets, people and organizations are guided by conservation of momentum. Inertia. They tend to do what they’ve always done. 
  • The Five Principles — Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, and Corroborating Evidence can be called the five horsemen of inertia. Five key roadblocks that hinder or inhibit change.
  • These five ways to be a catalyst can be organized into an acronym. Catalysts reduce Reactance, ease Endowment, shrink Distance, alleviate Uncertainty, and find Corroborating Evidence. Taken together, that forms an acronym, REDUCE. Which is exactly what great catalysts do. They REDUCE roadblocks. They change minds and incite action by reducing barriers to change. 
  • Principle 1 – Reactance — Restriction generates a psychological phenomenon called reactance. An unpleasant state that occurs when people feel their freedom is lost or threatened.
  • When pushed, people push back — people have an innate anti-persuasion system.
  • telling people not to do something has the opposite effect: it makes them more likely to do it.
  • To reduce reactance, catalysts allow for agency. Four key ways to do that are: (1) Provide a menu, (2) ask, don’t tell, (3) highlight a gap, and (4) start with understanding. 
  • Principle 2: Endowment
  • People are wedded to what they’re already doing. And unless what they’re doing is terrible, they don’t want to switch.
  • The status quo bias is everywhere.
  • So how do we ease endowment? Two key ways are to (1) surface the cost of inaction, and (2) burn the ships.
  • Principle 3: Distance
  • Another barrier is distance. If new information is within people’s zone of acceptance, they’re willing to listen. But if it is too far away, in the region of rejection, everything flips.
  • the zone of acceptance and the region of rejection — Different people not only have different positions on the field, their zones of acceptance and regions of rejection vary as well.
  • people have “confirmation bias” – they believe what confirms what they already believe…
  • How do catalysts avoid the region of rejection and encourage people to actually consider what they have to say? (1) find the movable middle, (2) ask for less, and (3) switch the field to find an unsticking point.
  • When trying to change those who are further away, we need to start by asking for less, – Start with a place of agreement and pivot from there to switch the field.
  • Principle 4: Uncertainty
  • reducing risk by letting people experience things for themselves.
  • the birth of Zappos (Shoesite.com), and the idea of uncertainty – consider free shipping; and free and easy returns…
  • the one that explained the most variance in the studies he reviewed, was a concept he called “trialability.” Simply put, trialability is how easy it is to try something. The ease with which something can be tested or experimented with on a limited basis. (Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovationsauthor)
  • The question, then, is how to reduce uncertainty by lowering the barrier to trial.
  • (1) harness freemium, (2) reduce up-front costs, (3) drive discovery, and (4) make it reversible.
  • Principle 5: Corroborating Evidence
  • Some things just need more proof. More evidence to overcome the translation problem and drive change.
  • The “translation problem” – and, who, in your mind, has credibility (Aristotle: ethos)
  • repeat ideas; pretty quickly — Trying to change the boss’s mind? After stopping by her office, catalysts encourage colleagues to make a similar suggestion right away. Concentration increases impact.
  • is it a pebble, or a boulder – The more expensive, time-consuming, risky, or controversial something is, the less likely it is to be a pebble and the more likely it is to be a boulder. 

And here are my lessons and takeaways:

#1 – I’m not sure I’m going to be able to actually learn – i.e., implement; put into practice – these lessons.
#2 – People do not like to change. Much of anything.  We have to recognize this reality.
#3 – Big asks/big changes are much more unlikely than small asks/small changes.
#4 – Make your “next step” request easy; convenient; tolerable. – “Free,” trialability, returnability/refundability/reversibility helps.
#5 — Get really good at asking questions; and then listen to the responses. – Learn to pause, in order to listen!
#6 – The most obvious lesson is this – persuading others requires a strategy to assume the catalyst role, in order to make self-persuasion possible, and more likely.
#7 – AND…you could be wrong about something.  Where, about what, do you need to persuade yourself to change?

We are all, pretty much always, in the persuasion business.  We start by persuading our ourselves.  Then our family members, and our colleagues, and customers, and…pretty much everybody.

So, have you become a good catalyst for persuasion.  It not, this book is worth studying carefully.


My synopsis, with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, and the audio recording of my presentation ,will be available soon from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  Click here for our newest additions.

Pre-Suasion is November 4 Book Synopsis Selection

At our November 4 First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present the blockbuster best-seller pre-suasionbookcoverentitled Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini (Simon & Schuster, 2016).  This book has been on the Wall Street Journal business-best selling list for two consecutive weeks.  It debuted on the list at # 2 on September 17-18, and stands at # 7 in the edition published September 24-25 (p. C10).

As of this writing, the book is #74 overall on Amazon.com and # 1 in three different business book categories on the list.

You can read a review of this book by Carol Travis that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on September 17 by clicking HERE.

The book receives acclaim due to its heavy reliance on experimental evidence to support its claims.  It has three major sections:  (1) key elements of attention, (2) mental processes of association, and (3) best practices.  While not foolproof, the message in the book is that preparing the influencee to receive the persuasive message is the most important part of convincing someone.

robertcialdinipictureCialdini is a social psychologist whose first book, Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion, was published in 1984.  That book was included on the list of the best 100 business books of all time.  He received his Ph.D from the University of North Carolina.  He is the CEO and President of Influence at Work, which focuses on ethical influence training, corporate keynote programs, and his own certified trainer method.

You can bet that this book will be a major draw at our event.  I look forward to presenting the synopsis on November 4.


What’s Logic Got To Do With It? – Thinking About The Role Of Emotion In The Pursuit Of Persuasion

How many commercials have you seen for Coca-Cola in your lifetime?  Something close to a gazillion (to adapt Forrest Gump’s word).  I’ve seen many of them and the ones for Pepsi, and 7UP, and… But given a choice, I always buy the Dr Pepper product.  (What can I say?, I’m from Texas!  In my youth, it was actual Dr Pepper.  Currently, it’s the Diet Cherry version.  Oh, for my youth back!).

I’m convinced that Coca-Cola (and a host of other companies) would pay you close to that gazillion figure, in cash, tomorrow afternoon, if you could do one thing:  create a commercial that, after one viewing, would get every viewer to buy their product, and only their product, for the rest of his/her life.

But you can’t create that commercial.  I don’t care how creative you are, how brilliant you are, you can’t create that commercial.  Why?  Because persuasion/rhetoric is not a science, it is an art.  It is imprecise, never guaranteed.

For example, Barack Obama was elected President with 52.87% of the popular vote.  That means, after all that campaigning, all those debates, he was unable to persuade some 47.13% of the people to vote for him.  By the way, my favorite illustration of this comes from Nolan Ryan.  Arguably the greatest candidate ever for the Baseball Hall of Fame, he had 5,714 career strikeouts and 7 career no-hitters.  Sandy Koufax, with four, is #2 on that list.  Ryan got 491 votes out of 497 votes cast.  (This was only the second highest percentage in history, at 98.79%.  Tom Seaver beat him with 98.84%, 425 out of 430 votes).

Now, I readily admit that it is an open question as to who the greatest pitcher of all time is.  But did Ryan’s accomplishments, his fame, qualify him to be in baseball’s Hall of Fame?  What idiot could possibly have failed to vote yes?  Yet, six idiots did exactly that.  (I searched, but could not find the quote – but as I remember, Nolan Ryan said something like this:  “I’d just like to find those 6 guys who did not vote for me.”)

According to Aristotle, rhetoric involves discovering and using the available means of persuasion, and are three primary means of persuasion – logosthe logical argument, the content of the argument itself; ethos, the ethical argument:  the quality of, the believability, the character, especially the credibility, of the speaker; and pathos, the emotional argument:  the passion of the speaker, the “I really care about this issue, and you should to” nature of the appeal.

We tend to believe that the “logic” of the argument should win the day.  But it’s not that simple.  And, frequently, the credibility of the speaker is more important than the logic of the argument.  But, even with those two in agreement (logic of argument  + credibility of speaker), the emotional appeal can still trump them both.

These thoughts all flow from my reaction to a short blog post, and then the video (below), from the Freakonomics blog.  I watched the video. It is really, really good.  It is unanswerable.  The logic is perfect.  But – the logic of the argument has not actually won the argument (I suspect it will be a long time before it does). The logic is unassailable.   But, as the ranter says, we won’t take this step because of “sentimental reasons.”

To reject the argument of this speaker is not logical.  It is an emotional rejection.  The subject — should we get rid of the penny?  Of course we should!  But we haven’t yet, and probably will not, anytime soon.

Here’s what Stephen Dubner wrote:

The Best Anti-Penny Rant Ever?
I’ve already used up
too much of your bandwidth complaining about the uselessness of pennies, but allow me to share with you a wonderful vlog rant by John Green on the many, many reasons why the penny (and the nickel, too) should be abolished. He is good.

And here’s the video. It is very, very funny.

All help is self-help – all persuasion is self-persuasion

Mincing no words, Seth Godin gets to the point (as he frequently does!).  Here’s part of what he wrote:


If you read a book that tries to change you for the better and it fails or doesn’t resonate, then it’s a self-help book.
If you read a book that actually succeeds in changing you for the better, then the label changes from self-help book to great book.
By the way, the only real help is self-help. Anything else is just designed to get you to the point where you can help yourself.

I agree.  And, just as all real help is self-help, all persuasion is self-persuasion.  A lot of people write and speak a lot of words hoping for one thing – that you will listen to their arguments closely enough and well enough to change your own thinking, feeling, or behaving/acting.

They can’t make you change (maybe they could – but that would be coercion, not persuasion).  Their best hope is to give you tools to help you change for yourself.