Persuasion

This course investigates persuasion — how we can convince others to voluntarily change their attitudes or behavior — by extracting from our knowledge of human behavior proven principles of effective influence. We also will explore two philosophical, yet utterly practical questions: what constitutes unsavory, unethical persuasion and whether persuasiveness (and leadership ability generally) can be learned or whether it is really an innate, natural born talent.

Professor
Module
Understanding the communication environment and managing integrated communication

This course spotlights a pivotal form of strategic communication: persuasion. Persuasion is the key to effective leadership. It is challenging enough to lead those who agree with us. But inducing others to willingly follow us when they are initially sceptical or opposed to our goals—persuading them—is the greatest challenge facing aspiring leaders. Persuasion lies at the heart of our personal and professional lives, whether the goal is to convince one person in a face-to-face encounter, influence a small group in a meeting, sway an entire organization, or win over the public.

This course investigates persuasion — how we can convince others to voluntarily change their attitudes or behavior — by extracting from our knowledge of human behavior proven principles of effective influence. We will also explore two philosophical, yet utterly practical questions: what constitutes unsavory, unethical persuasion and whether persuasiveness (and leadership ability generally) can be learned or whether it is really an innate, natural born talent.

Course participants hone their practical skills in persuasion through case studies, video examples, exercises and role-playing exercises. In addition, participants assess their personal strengths and weaknesses in persuasion, informed by the confidential assessments of others who closely observe them in persuasion situations. Participants learn about the history of persuasion which dates back to Greek civilization and the first forms of communications, including Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” consisting of three persuasion clusters: Logos (logical, coherent and cogent arguments), Ethos (the characteristics of the messenger) and Pathos (the motives, feelings, attitudes and knowledge of the audience). Through the course’s approach, participants learn to combine, balance and align those three elements in order to effectively persuade an audience.

By the conclusion of this course, participants are familiar with persuasion principles and techniques as tools applicable to public speaking, written communications and one-on-one and small group interactions where most persuasion takes place every day. By correctly understanding and applying the foundational principles of persuasion and Aristotle’s “Rhetoric,” communicators can achieve effective results in their professional and personal lives.