The Art Of Persuasion: Definition And Considerations

Updated March 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Persuasion is generally defined as the act of convincing someone to change their beliefs or do something you are suggesting, which is the persuasion definition. Persuasion has often been described as a delicate form of art, but many wonder: What exactly makes it so powerful? 

Understanding the art of persuasion can not only help you learn how to influence others; it can also make you more aware of the techniques that others might use to try and change your beliefs and behaviors. Below, we’re covering elements of persuasion, considerations in using it wisely and different strategies you can leverage to include the power of persuasion in your own personal experience(s). 

Why Is Persuasion Considered An Art? 

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Many agree that the definition of art is both a process and product that:

  • Expresses strong emotion

  • May be intellectually challenging

  • Can be complex and coherent

  • Can convey a messages

  • Shows an individual’s point of view

  • Is original to the artist

  • Generally produces an object or performance that requires a high degree of skill

Persuasion, in our context isn’t an art form in the same sense as painting or music — instead using  finely tuned creative skills—or art—of language and communication to create tangible change. It’s generally seen as intellectually challenging, complex, expressive and completely authentic to a person’s individual personality.

What Is The Point Of Mastering Persuasion?

Many people may find themselves in a position where persuasion may be required at some point. 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 peer group attendees. 

The art of persuasion runs through many human applications and settings. For example: With straight-line persuasion, salespeople may try to persuade people to buy objects or services. Politicians can persuade people to support and vote for them. You may persuade your teacher to let you take a makeup test, persuade your girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner to marry you, or persuade someone to help with your volunteer program. In fact, it’s hard to find people getting anything done at all without some form of persuasion. It’s a valuable skill to add to your social toolkit. 

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 considerations you should take before using persuasion can help you to have a more fruitful learning experience. We’ve put together a list of possible factors to consider below: 

  • Conduct A Social Situation Assessment. Before choosing to use your skills of persuasion, you can begin by getting a feel for how easy or difficult it will be to win over your audience. Doing this can help you to determine if the setting is appropriate for that style and tone of your discussion. 

  • Understand Implications Of Group Membership. If you’re a member of a group, then you’ may 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 of something than those with higher self-esteem. This can be because those with low self-esteem may value others’ opinions more than their own. You can take this into account by evaluating the self-esteem level of the person you’re trying to persuade, analyzing factors such as body posture, confidence of tone and commitment to their point of view. After this, you can proceed as responsibly as possible once you determine the full contextual profile of the person, conversation, and situation. 

Now that you know some critical factors to consider before attempting to persuade someone, let’s explore the process of persuasion.

How To Practice Persuasion: A Process

Getting The Right Introduction

It can be extremely difficult to convince a stranger of something. For instance, salespeople can dislike cold calling because they never know what type of person they’ll be dealing with on the other end of the phone. They usually don’t know that person’s values or preferences, or whether they belong to a group that is opposed to what or how they’re selling. In fact, the one of the only things they do know is that the person called doesn’t know, (or may not trust), the salesperson.

If you can get a personal introduction from a mutual friend or acquaintance, you have a much 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 anything before you attempt persuasion, including attempting to forge the connection yourself to give your argument a more human and “familiar” touch. This is where excellent listening and communication skills can support your overall goal of being persuasive.

Appreciating 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 you need to compose a personalized pitch that will make sense to the person you’re trying to persuade. 

In addition to gaining information from listening, you also create the impression 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 Don’t Agree

It’s important to consider expressing agreement with the person you’re trying to persuade as often as possible. This can indicate that you respect them and are open-minded. Many people want to be thought of as intelligent, so if you refute everything someone says, they may be more likely to dismiss you. Of course, we do want to note that you can’t agree with anyone on everything. (If you did, you wouldn’t be able to convince your audience to change their position). What you can do, however, is have an agreeable attitude that acknowledges the reasoning behind what they believe and the choices they’ve made.

Embrace Subtlety

If you can say exactly what you want someone to believe and they immediately believe it, there isn’t much of a need for persuasion. More commonly, you may find that you need to show them in subtle ways why your viewpoint is correct. There are many different persuasion techniques to use here, but many find that the most effective are those that aren’t blatant or obvious. Instead, they’re built on drawing comparisons, storytelling and recognizing the viewpoints of the other person from where they stand.

Commit To A Committed Approach

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

Consider Whose Conclusion Matters

When you draw your argument to a close, you may present your conclusion as the correct one. However, people can be more easily persuaded if they believe they’re reaching their own conclusion. They generally want to believe that it’s their idea to change their viewpoints, beliefs, or actions. The good news is, if you’ve presented your argument in a way that makes sense to your audience, they’ll 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 and act on it.

Evaluate Possible Ethical Concerns

There are a few ethical dilemmas to consider if you decide you’re going to practice the art of persuasion. Many people have used persuasion techniques maliciously to harm or take advantage of others. Before you try to convince someone to agree with you, consider thinking about what the impact on them will be if you succeed.

You can begin to ask yourself: Will that person gain or lose? Is it in their best interest to accept what you bring to the table?

Avoid Falsifying Evidence

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

Is Persuasion Good Or Bad?

Like any other form of art, persuasion is not generally positive or negative in and of itself. It is how you use the art of persuasion, and for what purpose, that determines whether you’re contributing something worthwhile to the world. Using caution and consideration in how you use this skill is important as you interact with others and attempt to persuade them of anything — minor or major.

Seeking Guidance: The Role Of Online Therapy In Building Assertiveness And Persuasive Skill 

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You can talk to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp to find support as you work to become more assertive, responsible, and comfortable in social interactions. Online therapy can be an accessible and convenient option for many, allowing you to refine your skills and face possible insecurities in the comfort of your own home. 

This form of support can be especially helpful for those living with anxiety disorder, low self-esteem or shyness, which can undermine any progress they’ve made 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. 

Is Online Therapy Effective For Those Building Confidence?

You may be wondering: Is online therapy truly comparable to in-person intervention? We’re here to confidently assert that scientific literature does suggest that there is little to no difference between therapeutic delivery methods. A cited study from the National Center of 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. This is meaningful evidence for those actively working to improve their confidence and assertiveness through persuasion, as these disorders can undermine one’s confidence and capability to do so. 


The art of persuasion generally relies on communication techniques that can help you better assert yourself in the world. With the tips and guidelines above, you can be well on your way toward being more confident and persuasive in your daily life. Therapy can be a helpful resource for your journey. BetterHelp can connect you with therapists in your area of need. 

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