Hearts, Stealing Their Minds
While logic is the language of the conscious mind, emotion
is the language of the unconscious mind. We know that emotions
to perceived and imagined stimuli, not based on logic, but on one’s
own personal experiences. Emotions often outweigh our logic. Imagine
placing a plank of wood on the ground and walking its length a
few times. Easy enough, right? But suppose you placed it a hundred
in the air between two buildings. You know you can walk that plank—you
just did it over and over again. Yet now, emotions and fears outweigh
logic. Your “what-ifs” and your imagination supersede
the concrete knowledge of your ability to walk the plank.
In his book Emotional
Intelligence, Daniel Goleman asserts that understanding emotions
is more pertinent to leading a successful
life than having a high IQ. Often people of high intelligence struggle
at work because of their weaknesses in fundamental human relation
skills. Goleman calls this skill “emotional intelligence.” He
emphasizes that emotional intelligence largely determines our success
in relationships, work, and even physical wellness. Emotional intelligence “is
a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor
one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among
them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking
and actions.” Emotional intelligence includes emotional
management, personal motivation, empathy, self-awareness, and social
When you are persuading
someone, emotions provide the springboard for a successful execution
of your argument. In fact, I would even
say emotions are the energy and very fuel of the persuasion process.
Without tapping into your audience’s emotions, there is no
strength or energy in your message. Emotion is a power you can
harness and use in practically every aspect of persuasion. Remember,
logic is important, but emotion helps you catapult an otherwise
dull or flat exchange to the next level. Consider the following
advantages of emotion over logic:
the emotions of your audience engages them and distracts them
from your intention to persuade.
requires less effort than logic. Logic solicits cognitive effort,
whereas emotion is automatic.
aimed at engaging the audience’s emotions
are usually more interesting than logical ones.
arguments are often easier to recall than logic-based arguments.
almost always leads more quickly to change than logic does.
You must know when to
create positive or negative emotions and when to dispel negative
emotions. You have to find ways to tap
into your prospects’ emotions, such as hope, love, pride,
gratitude, and excitement. If you can do this, you can inspire
anyone. Decide ahead of time what emotional climate you want to
create, capture those emotions within yourself, and you’ll
be surprised how you can transfer those emotions to your audience.
Types of Emotions: Emotional Mastery
Over the centuries, philosophers have tried to categorize the very
many complex emotions of humanity—no easy task. Aristotle
came up with fourteen emotions. Other philosophers argued emotions
are largely influence by one’s time period and culture.
We will focus on a few major, elemental emotions, both positive
and negative. In the persuasive process, you want to eliminate
negative emotions while constructing positive emotions. You don’t
want your message to end with negative feelings.
When your prospect is worried or preoccupied with something occurring
now or about to happen in the future, your ability to persuade
declines. Worry is feeling anxious, uneasy, or concerned about
something that will or has happened. I have heard worry referred
to as “negative goal setting.” Anxiety creates tension—a
fear that occupies our thoughts, which, if encouraged, will grow
and continue to dominate our thoughts.
You can combat worry
in your prospects by modifying their anxiety into thoughts of
reality. Bring them back to reality by having
them realize we can’t change many things in life. Stress
that most of the things we worry about are those very things we
can’t change and won’t likely ever happen in the first
place. Help your prospects substitute their negative mental images
with positive ones.
Fear is anxiety or tension caused by danger, apprehension, harm,
pain, or destruction. The possibility of harm can be real or
imagined. Fear motivates and moves us away from unpleasant circumstances
or potential destruction. Fear persuades us to do many things
we might not otherwise do. We buy life insurance, air bags, home
alarms, and guns out of fear.
Fear does not
work in every circumstance, however. If we were solely motivated
by fear, we would never speed or start smoking.
The proper dose of fear is essential in persuasion. If the dose
is too small, it will not stimulate action. If the fear is too
large, it will trigger resistance and acceptance will decrease.
For fear to stick and create action and persuasion, it must include
the following steps:
- The image
of fear must be unpleasant, such as threat of pain, destruction,
- It must
be imminent. Your prospects must feel not only that the fearful
event is likely to happen, but also
that they could
be victimized by its occurrence. They must feel vulnerable.
- You must
provide a solution to the fear. Give your prospects a recommended
action to suspend or eliminate the fear.
prospects must believe they are capable of doing what is asked
of them and that doing so will work for
Anger is a secondary emotion. It is usually an indicator that something
else is askew and/or that your prospect needs and wants attention.
You can assist in subsiding a person’s anger by determining
the key issue he is upset about. It is also often effective to
ask for his help, opinions, or advice. This will usually diffuse
his anger or even change his attitude and demeanor completely.
In some circumstances, a persuader may want to use anger to make
a certain point or to evoke a certain reaction.
Sympathy and Compassion
You can generate action for your cause by creating sympathy for
it. When we see others victimized by misfortune that was beyond
their control, we feel more sympathetic toward them and more motivated
to help them. You’ve probably seen this technique used by
marketers when they show you pictures of starving children, battered
women, abandoned animals, and disabled adults.
Jealousy is the pain caused by seeing others’ good fortune,
not because we want what they have, but because we resent them
for having it. The cause of jealousy is the false perception that
one’s worth lies in the possession of those goods.
Shame is pain and disrespect felt in connection to regrettable
behaviors, experiences, or events. It often involves disgrace
or loss of respect for oneself because we feel we have fallen
in the eyes of our family, friends, or loved ones. We feel shame
because of our vices, our abuses, or any of our perceived failures.
Pity is pain we feel toward someone who has been unjustly trespassed
against. We often feel pity for others due to death, injury,
sickness, calamity, natural disaster, accidents, and so on. We
can feel pity for people who are close to us as well as people
we don’t know at all.
When using emotions in persuasion, remember to pay attention to
the circumstances that surround your speech. Aristotle highlighted
three aspects you should consider:
nature of the actual experience (funeral, party, sporting
event, fundraiser, or business meeting).
toward whom the message will be directed (blue or white collar,
male or female, religion, race, common
- The likely
emotion that will be created in participants (what is going
taken from Magnetic Persuasion by Kurt Mortensen
Mortensen, author of Exponential
Success Skills and Weapons of Influence, is one
of American’s leading
authorities on Persuasion, Motivation and Influence. After receiving
of Business Administration and a Bachelors of Arts, he began many
successful entrepreneurial ventures, through which he has acquired
many years of both experience and success. In addition to his extensive
entrepreneurial and sales experiences, Kurt is a sales and persuasion
coach helping thousands of people reach higher levels of success,
income and persuasion mastery. Currently, he is a speaker, consultant,
and a Trainer for Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen Protégés.