The One Sentence Persuasion Course

4 minutes read

Scott Adams is a thoughtful advocate for learning persuasion. I had written a post on his book ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big’ which you can read here

Scott Adams has recommended this wonderful book on Persuasion.

Shortest Course on Persuasion

This book is very short and author has beautifully conveyed his ideas on persuasion in a single sentence of 27 words!!

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rock at their enemies.

The above line contains five of the most important insights the author has learned in all his years of studying and applying the principles of persuasion.

  • Encourage their dreams
  • Justify their failures
  • Allay their fears
  • Confirm their suspicions
  • Help them throw rocks at their enemies

They are the most important because they are simple, they are immediately useful and they can be frighteningly powerful. They are the tools for anyone who must connect with others and, more importantly make these connections pay off.

Encourage their dreams

Parents often encourage their children’s dreams for “their own good” and attempt to steer them towards more “reasonable” goal. And children often accept this as normal, until others come along who believe in them and encourage their dreams. When this happens , who do you think has more power? Parent? Or Strangers?

Justify their failures

This effect is played the best in politics. Assuring others that they are not responsible is essential for gaining influence over theirs.

Allay their fears

When we are afraid, it is almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. Someone telling us not to be afraid hardly works. We prefer to be with people who work with us until our fear subsides. They present evidence, they offer support, they tell us stories, but they do not tell us how to feel and expect us to feel that way.

Confirm their suspicions

When another person confirms something that we suspect, we not only feel a surge of superiority, we feel attracted to the one who helped us make that surge come about. Hitler ‘confirmed’ the suspicions of many Germans about the cause of their troubles and drew them further into his power by doing so.

Help them throw rocks at their enemies

Nothing bonds like having a common enemy. Whether it is another individual, a group, an illness, a setback, a rival philosophy or religion, or what have you, when one is engaged in a struggle, one is looking for others to join him. Those who do become more than friends; they become partners.

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rock at their enemies.

The above quote is missing something that is very important in the persuasion process. Here’s what missing : YOU

It's all about the other person.

One thing people rarely resist is someone trying to meet their needs. And when ones needs have been met, a bond is often forged and natural desire to reciprocate has been created.

Like it or not, the duration of our relationship is nothing compared to the depth of our relationships. And depth is based on the fulfillment of our deepest needs, not on the duration of dialog. The author is not saying to ignore your wants. Simply we should focus on the other person , not forget yourself.

Most magical things in life are often the results of the correct application of the most basic principles imaginable.

If we boil down the strategy behind one Sentence persuasion even more , it would be :

  • Validate and Fascinate
  • Correct and Convince

Validate and Fascinate

Our need for validation is so strong, yet so often overlooked, it is frightening. It is not something we are going to outgrow. It is something we must accept and adjust for.

The need for mental engagement is so fundamental that few give it much thought. Those who engage us holds the keys to our hearts and minds and from there, our actions.

“What holds attention determines action.” ~ William James

Fascinating others is one of the easiest things in the world, if we do with within the context of validation. “validate and fascinate” In that order.

As powerful as the two-word strategy ‘validate and fascinate’ is, there is another strategy which is even more powerful, but in a negative way.

Correct and Convince.

Within a context of correction, nothing we say will be very convincing.

If we insist on correcting people before we convince them, we might as well accept the fact that we’re never likely to convince them of anything. In fact, the attempt to correct other people often makes their current ways of thinking even more entrenched.


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