The Art Of Persuasion: Definition And Considerations

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Persuasion is the act of convincing someone to change their beliefs or follow through on a suggestion. Persuasion has often been described as a delicate art form, but some may wonder what makes it an “art” and how it can be used healthily.  

Understanding persuasion can help you know how to influence others healthily and be more aware of the techniques others might use to try and change your beliefs and behaviors. There are several elements of persuasion, considerations in using it wisely, and different strategies you can leverage to include it in your conversations healthily.

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Why is persuasion considered an art? 

Some believe that the definition of art means an idea or item:

  • Elicits strong emotion
  • Is intellectually challenging
  • Is complex and coherent
  • Conveys a messages
  • Shows an individual’s point of view
  • Is original to the artist
  • Produces an object or performance that requires a high degree of skill

Persuasion isn’t necessarily an art form in the same sense as a painting or song. However, it uses finely-tuned creative language and communication to create tangible change. It’s often seen as intellectually challenging, complex, expressive, and completely authentic to a person’s personality.

What is the point of mastering persuasion?

Some people may find themselves in a position where persuasion may be required. For instance, you may be asked to “sell” yourself and your skills in an interview, or you may attempt to try to come out on top of a discussion with a work group. 

With straight-line persuasion, salespeople may try to persuade people to buy objects or services. A car company may use central route persuasion and focus on safety features or fuel economy when advertising. 

Politicians can persuade people to support and vote for them. You may persuade your teacher to let you take a makeup test, persuade your partner to marry you or persuade someone to help with your volunteer program. Many goals are completed with the support of persuasion in some capacity.  

Factors to consider in using the art of persuasion

It can take dedication to learn how to learn persuasive skills effectively. Coming into your journey equipped with a complete vision of what cautions to take before using persuasion can help you be better prepared for all types of responses. Below are a few factors to consider. 

Conduct a social situation assessment

Before using your persuasion skills, begin by getting a feel for how easy or difficult it might be to win over your audience. Doing this can help you to determine if the setting is appropriate for persuasion. For example, if the individual is your boss and is generally not friendly with their coworkers, it may be more challenging to persuade them.  

Understand the implications of group membership

If you’re a member of a group, you might be less likely to be convinced of subjects or ideas that go against the views of your fellow group attendees. This concept is widely known as “group membership.” As a result, the existence of the group and your loyalty to it tend to strengthen your resolve to stick with their version of the truth, even if it’s inaccurate.

Consider those experiencing low self-esteem

People with low self-esteem may be easier to convince than those with higher self-esteem. You can consider this by analyzing factors like body posture, confidence of tone, and commitment to their point of view. Note that using someone’s self-esteem to persuade them is a form of manipulation and may not be healthy, especially if what you’re trying to convince them of is unhealthy or unkind.  

How to practice healthy persuasion: A process

Below are a few ways to start practicing healthy forms of persuasion. 

Persuade people after being introduced 

It can be challenging to convince a stranger of your point of view. Salespeople may dislike cold calling because they never know who they’ll deal with on the other end of the phone. They may not know that person’s values or preferences or whether they belong to a group opposed to what or how they’re selling. One of the only things they know is that the person doesn’t know or may not trust them. 

If you can get a personal introduction from a mutual friend or acquaintance, you may have a better chance of persuading someone to adopt your point of view. If you can’t get an introduction, it may help to prepare yourself for any outcome before you attempt persuasion, including attempting to forge the connection yourself to give your argument a more human and “familiar” touch.

Appreciate the value of listening

When you choose to listen and be receptive to a person or situation before attempting to be persuasive, you can gather the information to compose a personalized pitch that may make sense to the person you’re trying to persuade. 

In addition to gaining information from listening, you can show that you value the other person and respect their beliefs. In turn, they may be more likely to form a favorable opinion of you and listen to what you have to say.


Be agreeable when you disagree

Consider expressing agreement with the person you’re trying to persuade as often as possible. Agreement can indicate that you respect them and are open-minded. Often, individuals want to be thought of as intelligent. If you refute everything someone says, they may be more likely to dismiss you. 

Embrace subtlety

If you can say precisely what you want someone to believe, and they immediately believe it, there may not be a need for persuasion. It may help to show them more subtly how you are correct. A few persuasion methods that may be more subtle can include drawing comparisons, storytelling, and recognizing the viewpoints of the other person when formulating an approach. 

Be committed 

The art of persuasion often requires patience and commitment to the process.  To change someone’s mind, you may consider developing your arguments and explaining your rationale subtly and consistently. If you have a simple message, it might not take long to deliver. However, if you want to communicate something more complex, be patient with your audience and keep them engaged.

Consider the conclusion 

When you draw your argument to a close, present your conclusion as correct. However, note that some people may be more convinced if they believe they came to your conclusion themselves. If you’ve presented your argument in a way that makes sense to your audience, they may assume that their change in thinking was their own decision — which can help them to be more likely to continue to hold onto that opinion. 

Evaluate possible ethical concerns

There are a few ethical dilemmas to consider if you decide to practice the art of persuasion. Some people have used persuasion techniques maliciously to harm or take advantage of others. Before you try to convince someone to agree with you, consider the impact it may have on them or others around you. Unhealthy forms of persuasion can be considered manipulation.   

Avoid falsifying evidence

Whether in court or making a post on social media, it can be wrong to present falsified statements, documents, or images to prove your point. If you want to be responsible in your practice of persuasion, ensure the evidence or supporting information you’re presenting is accurate, morally correct, and legitimate to the best of your knowledge.

Is persuasion unhealthy? 

Persuasion is not generally positive or negative in and of itself. How you use the art of persuasion and for what purpose determines whether you’re contributing positively to the world. Using caution and consideration in this skill can be vital as you interact with others and attempt to persuade them of a minor or major position. 

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Seeking professional guidance 

A therapist may be a beneficial resource as you work to become more assertive, responsible, and comfortable in social interactions. If you struggle to meet with providers in person, you can also talk to a provider online through platforms like BetterHelp. Online therapy can be an available and convenient option for many, allowing you to refine your skills and face possible insecurities in your home. 

This form of support can benefit those living with anxiety disorder, low self-esteem, or shyness, which can undermine progress in being more assertive and persuasive. It can also be more therapeutically engaging if the person using therapy can focus completely on the therapeutic skills and challenges rather than feeling uncomfortable or insecure in their surroundings as they do so. 

Scientific literature suggests little difference between online and in-person therapeutic delivery methods. A cited study from the National Center for Health Research found that online therapy was effective in treating anxiety disorders and depression across 40 independent studies, showcasing improvement in over 1,000 test subjects. 


The art of persuasion relies on communication techniques that can help you better assert yourself in the world. If you’re struggling with persuasion, socialization, or confidence, you may also benefit from reaching out to a licensed professional for further support and guidance.
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