21 SIMPLE WAYS TO
By Jason Nazar
Edited/Designed by Rochelle Bailis
The Purpose of Persuasion
This is a brief but important lesson on how to universities to elect me student body president, both
persuade people. The ability to persuade can in undergraduate and business school.
enhance many aspects of your life, from business to For a brief period of time after college I was
your personal relationships. actually a stage hypnotist, and became certiﬁed in
My goal is not only to help you get what you something called neuro-linguistic programming. I
want, but help other people get the things they need use the skills I gained during this period of my life to
and want from you. True persuasion facilitates better better understand how human beings motivate one
human interaction, bargaining and reciprocity. another to do things.
I've always been fascinated by the way political, After graduating, I launched DocStoc and raised
business, religious leaders and other inﬂuential a few million dollars to expand it in spite of never
people are able to persuade so many people to follow having raised money before. Now DocStoc is one of
them. I have studied the art of persuasion for years, the top 500 most trafﬁcked sites on the internet, and
and have integrated it in my daily life. we are proﬁtable.
When I was a teenager I used to volunteer for a This wasn’t magic, it came from my own
crisis hotline counseling people that were on the motivation, and my ability to convince others to help
brink of suicide, helping persuade them to take a me, to invest in me, to believe in me. I’d like to share
step back and reconsider their choice. lessons in persuasion I’ve developed over my lifetime,
In spite of being pretty unpopular in school, I in the hopes that you can use them to achieve your
convinced the population of two different goals as well.
1. Persuasion is
This is a misconception that I’d
like to dispel right off the bat.
Persuasion is not a skill that allows
you to force people to do what they
don’t want to.
It’s about helping people make
decisions, and assisting them in
accomplishing things that are in your
mutual interest. If you believe in the
beneﬁt what you are pushing, it
should not require coercion.
the Persuadable 3. Context and Timing
Everyone is persuadable at some point, and the two
Everybody is persuadable, but not at any given time.
most critical factors for setting up the right moment are
Think of a political campaign; if you're a Democrat
context and timing. These two circumstances deﬁne your
running for ofﬁce, you won’t try to persuade Republicans
interaction with an individual, and determine whether
to vote for you. You will go for that middle ground, and
or not they’ll be more easily persuaded.
appeal to the persuadable “swing” voters. In the end about
These two variables are what magicians count on to
10% of the voting populace decides the leader of the free
make their tricks believable. They set the ambiance of
world. Those are the people you try to sway.
their stage, and control the timing of how their tricks are
Some people are more persuadable than others, and
about certain things. But with the right timing and context,
I also know from experience that these two elements
everybody is persuadable at some time or another.
are the reason stage hypnosis shows work. The power of
context and timing allowed me to stand in front of a
large audience, pull people on stage, and within 15
minutes have the biggest, burliest guy think he was
You have to be giving birth to a baby.
Interested to be Persuaded That would not work if I just stood outside of a
supermarket and said, "Hey, who wants to get
One of the biggest mistakes that we all make is assuming It worked because people came to a hypnosis show
people are interested in what we have to say. Most of the time expecting a speciﬁc experience. They were in the right
they aren’t, trust me. When they seem interested, it’s only state of mind and place, and this made all the difference.
because they’re waiting for you to stop talking so that they can
That’s because the thing that everybody cares about most,
is themselves. Your goal then, should be to listen closely, and
“ If you learn to talk to people
internalize what they want. If you learn to talk to people about what they want and how
about what they want, what they need, and how you can fulﬁll you can fulﬁll their needs, you
those needs, you will have their full attention.
will have their attention.
5. Reciprocity Compels 6. Compliment Sincerely
On an evolutionary level, we have grown, survived The trick to persuasion is not to be a sycophant and lay it
and ﬂourished as a species by helping one another. on thick. People will not only see through this, they will end
Humans developed the instinct to abet each other so up distrusting you.
that we’d have a helping hand when we needed it. Your compliments should be sincere, and come from
So if I do my best friend a favor, he will feel genuine feeling. I’ve found that the most effective way to
compelled to return that favor. The real genius, commend people is to compliment them for the things they
however, comes from using the power of reciprocity to are the most insecure about.
get an even bigger favor in return. Telling a gorgeous woman that she’s beautiful won’t be as
For example, in business there are plenty of people meaningful as telling her that she’s smart. Telling a really
I could reach out to who wouldn’t respond because smart guy he’s inventive won’t affect him as much as saying
they are too busy or inﬂuential to give me the time of he looks handsome.
day. One of the ways I’ve counteracted this problem is Really stop and evaluate how many compliments you give
by hosting dinners over the last couple years where I away in the course of the day, and make an effort to increase
gather a group of CEO’s and business founders. I those. Don’t force them, but look for qualities you admire in
would often invite a big law or accounting ﬁrm (who people, and don’t be afraid to point them out. The most
would often pay for the dinner), and some people I’ve persuasive
worked with in the past. people I’ve
The people who know me would speak highly of ever known
me, while the fresh business leaders would get a free very
meal and feel indebted to me for this great food and sincerely
networking experience. A $50 plate of food bought ﬁnd a way
me a ticket to communication, a guarantee this person to
wouldn’t ignore my email down the line. compliment
In fact, more often than not, helping people others on a
without any expectations compelled them to go great very
lengths to assist me, far beyond my original gesture of consistent
7. Persistence Pays
My favorite story about persistence is that of Abraham Lincoln. Many
people don’t know this, but Abraham Lincoln lost eight different elections
before becoming president. He also suffered greatly in his personal life; his
mother died when he was only 9, his ﬁrst love died of typhoid, his sister
died in her early 20’s, and he lost three of four of his sons before they
reached adulthood. To top it all off, two of his businesses completely failed.
In spite of what today seem like unimaginable trials, he managed to get
back on his feet again and again, and continue running for ofﬁce until he
became a president who changed history. He may not have persuaded
people to vote for him the ﬁrst few times, but his persistency demonstrated
his ardor and dedication to his country.
8. Set Expectations
This contributes to your ability to control the context
and timing of a situation. The entire movie Life is
Beautiful is a touching example of how a father manages
to shield his son from the horrors of the holocaust by
managing his expectations.
In business, I use the power of expectations to
maintain a great relationship with my board. I make a
ﬁnancial projection and maintain those revenue
expectations for my team, but tell my board we’ll
accomplish 20% less.
Let’s say I promise $70 million in revenue and deliver
$50 million, versus promising $40 million and
delivering that same $50 million. The number hasn’t
changed, but I become more trust-worthy for simply
setting the right expectations.
9. Don’t Assume 10. Create Scarcity
The best sales advice I ever got was not to make assumptions Objects beyond basic necessities, such as food and
about what someone can pay for. shelter, only have value relative to what people want.
Try not to judge people at ﬁrst glance. Too many salespeople Objects that are scarce always have the most value,
assume somebody doesn’t have the money for their product, and people naturally desire them more.
and won’t spend time persuading that person. The ﬁrst example that comes to mind will be
Even people who don't have much money will ﬁnd money for relatable to those of you who are or have been single.
the things they want. If you believe in your product, service or Think about what happens when you meet a guy or
idea, present it with conﬁdence. Don't make an assumption of girl in a bar who you feel somewhat ambivalent
what someone needs or doesn't need, let them decide. about, and the person wants to exchange numbers.
You’re not particularly interested, but maybe you’ve
had a couple drinks, and you oblige.
“ Even people who don't have
Maybe a few days later, when you’re feeling bored
or lonely, you text this person. Of course, you
immediately regret this decision. You didn’t even like
much money will ﬁnd money for this person, and now you’re leading them on.
And then an hour goes by, then two, then three…
the things they want. If you and you start wondering why the heck this person
believe in your product, service isn’t texting you back. A few hours ago you regretted
or idea, present it with even reaching out, and suddenly all you can think
about is hearing back.
conﬁdence. Don't make an Maybe you ﬁnally get a response; the person’s
assumption of what someone phone was dead, but they’re very excited to hear from
you and are interested in meeting up. Suddenly, the
needs, let them decide.
scarcity has vanished, and so has your interest. People
want what they can’t have, or must work for.
11. Create Urgency 13. Truth Tell
Creating a sense of urgency can completely transform how somebody sees Oftentimes, telling people
an idea. When DocStoc was looking for venture deals three years ago, I what they want to hear is the
pitched to dozens of VC’s to no avail. It wasn’t until we got the ﬁrst term sheet best way to persuade them.
that four other VC's immediately put out an offer to match it. Suddenly there However there are
was buzz around DocStoc, and people realized that if they wanted to be a part circumstances when you can
of this round they needed to jump in quickly. persuade people by telling them
The most successful people I know create a heightened sense of urgency something nobody else will.
around things, so that people feel like, if they don’t jump on it, the opportunity This honesty can sometimes be
will be lost forever. the trick to inspiring
conﬁdence, to set people off
balance and sway them in
12. Images Matter
The most simple example of
this is the children’s fable, The
Emperor’s New Clothes. Everyone
in the crowd was a sycophant,
and went on about how
The way you present things matters. This is true of business pitch decks,
beautiful and intricate the
interviews and so much more. My favorite example, however, is
emperor’s clothing was. It
wasn’t until one child told the
These commercials calmly list off a long list of horrible side effects, while
truth, and said "The Emperor
showering you with images of a happy family going for a hike, a man ﬁshing
has no clothes," that everybody
with his grandson, a beautiful couple laying on a tropical beach… and
started laughing and cheering.
suddenly the side effects just don’t seem as bad. The perfectly crafted images of
That one, powerful outburst of
people enjoying life are what linger in people’s minds.
Be deliberate in the image you put forward when attempting to persuade
everybody to switch their
someone, that’s what will be burned in their brain long after the facts subside.
opinions and beliefs.
“ 14. Build Rapport
When you’re talking to Everyone naturally likes people who are similar to
someone you naturally match them. When you discover a shared point of interest,
background or connection with somebody, you relate
their speech and body language to them and like them a little more.
to some degree. Focusing on In fact, science has demonstrated that we all have a
improving this ability builds a subconscious desire to bond and reﬂect those around
us. Human have a neuro-linguistic instinct called
subconscious rapport with the matching and mirroring, where we develop patterns in
person you’re interacting with. how we talk, speak and hold ourselves based on those
They see a bit of themselves in
In fact, when you're having a one-on-one
you and instantly feel more at conversation with somebody, you naturally match their
ease. In this state, they are speech and body language to some degree. Focusing
on improving this ability builds a subconscious rapport
more likely to be persuaded.
with the person you’re interacting with. They see a bit
of themselves in you and instantly feel more at ease. In
this state, they are more likely to be persuaded.
16. Learn to Energy 17.
Clearly is Key
The person with the most power Have you ever been talking to The best example of
isn’t necessarily the one in control, somebody, and felt like they weren’t communicating clearly is Ronald
but the one with the most behavioral fully present in the conversation? Reagan. I used to watch his
ﬂexibility. Maybe their attention slipped, or speeches, and my mother told me
If you have children, you’ll they don’t quite understand your to pay close attention to the way
understand how this works. Parents train of thought. Talking to he spoke. He had a gift for
often forbid their children from doing someone in this state is draining, speaking to the masses because
things, but end up caving in. Why? and saps you of energy and he spoke in very clear and simple
Because kids are great at crying, enthusiasm. terms, and this garnered trust.
bargaining, pouting, throwing ﬁts, On the other hand, when Remember, if you can't explain
putting on the charm, being cute … someone is empathetic, maintaining your idea or concept to a ﬁfth
they test out every single behavior eye contact and reiterating what grader and have that ﬁfth grader
possible to achieve the end result they you tell them, you feel invigorated. relay the idea to his or her friends
desire. And it often works, not If you learn to carry enthusiasm clearly, you’re explaining it too
because they have the power, but the and transfer this energy to others, complexly.
most behavior ﬂexibility. you can more easily persuade them.
18. Being Prepared
Gives you the Advantage
There is a fantastic book called Talent is Overrated, where Geoffrey Colvin argues that the idea of “natural born talent” is
a myth. He explains how some of the most accomplished people throughout history, such as Michael Jordan, Mozart and
Tiger Woods, weren’t simply born with an amazing gift as people suspect. They all had an incredibly disciplined and
systematic approach to practice, at a level most people simply don’t have the dedication to maintain.
Meticulous preparation is a huge part of success, and helps you compose the context of a situation so it’s move favorable
to persuading people.
19. Detach and Stay
Calm in Conflict 20. Use Anger Purposefully
The ﬁrst person I’d want with me Anger is very powerful, but is often misused and unleashed during a
during a war or a natural disaster, would rush of emotion. You run the risk of losing self control, then struggling
be Spock from Star Trek. While to regain your composure. Lashing out in anger does not put you in a
everybody else is panicking, that clear position of power, but instead makes you look unstable.
headedness and calm is what people look However, if you’re willing to use anger when others are not, it can
to. When there is conﬂict, people are give you an advantage. Most people would rather avoid conﬂicts, and
easily persuaded by the detached, will do so whenever it’s easiest. If you demonstrate a willingness to
practical voice who speaks to them with handle a higher level of conﬂict than them, you often have the upper
reason. hand and can persuade them in that moment.
21. Confidence and Certainty
Finally, there is no quality that is as addictive and attractive as conﬁdence and certainty. In excess, or without the
previously mentioned qualities of empathy and ﬂexibility mentioned earlier, conﬁdence can come off as overbearing.
But if you really have certainty in your own ideas, in spite of external validation, this conﬁdence you have in yourself
will be contagious. If you really believe in what you do, you will always be able to persuade others to do what’s right for
them, while getting what you want in return.