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Today’s world is based on communication, so it is not surprising that emotional intelligence is considered to be more important than intellect in order to be success nowadays. Persuasion is an essential part of communication and a key to reaching one’s goals, so researchers are interested in its mechanisms and techniques. With the object of being an effective persuader, it is important to have the right image and a set of personal characteristics, to have a properly formulated message, and to know one’s target audience so that to make the first two requirements work.
An essential condition in being an effective persuader is having the right personal characteristics. It is well known to psychologists that the first impression of a person is made up in a fraction of second, and thus it is done subconsciously based on some visual factors and body language signals. Thus, even though the message is important, the messenger is crucial. There are certain characteristics, which make a person look persuasive and which advertisers often use. First of all, a person has higher chances to be successful in case physical attractiveness and charisma are present. Although, these characteristics are difficult to measure, it is still possible to say that these are likely to be mainstream attractiveness and charisma. Innovations in looks and the way of self-presentation might be quite risky when one deals with persuasion as people tend to stick to universal stereotypes of a successful person rather than believe a weird genius. In this sense, credibility is an important characteristic, although the image of a credible person can vary depending on who the audience is. Most likely, we tend to believe either people who have a similar background or those who are slightly more successful than they are. This “slightly” is quite important because if the social or financial gap is too significant, it may cause failure: people might be reluctant to believe that they are able to achieve the same results in their position. Surely, a good persuader has to be likeable, which is achieved by optimism, confidence, and sense of humor. Besides, a minor touch of humanity and imperfection is always welcome, people avoid extremely perfect individuals. The use of positive persuasion is more productive, although negative and frightening techniques can be effective for a short time, as well. Nevertheless, the latter ones undermine the credibility in a long run and create uncomfortable atmosphere that is never good for effective communication.
Secondly, the message is clearly also very important for successful persuasion. Thus, the way of its presentation and formulation is a key to success. It should be put with the right emotion and passion, as enthusiasm is something that sparkles with credibility and compassion. Framing concept says that context is crucial to making the statement persuasive; it works as an attractive wrapper for a candy that is no different from thousands of other candies. Framing can be descriptive, but it also can be atmospheric. Thus, the same statement can sound differently in the office and out of doors, in an informal picnic. The sleeper effect is a phenomenon that demonstrates how the message can become more credible: “Low credibility may be caused by a discounting cue, such as when a prediction of improving economic conditions is given by a government spokesperson (who is presumed to be biased). However, when the message eventually gets separated from its source (by dissociation), the message may gain more credibility” (Sleeper Effect, Changing minds).
Finally, when discussing persuasion, it is always worth remembering that each kind of audience needs its own approach. People are different based on their ethnicity, culture, and gender, so these dimensions are often used to influence the person’s mind. The models might differ from one situation to another, as expectations are different. In some aspects, male figures are perceived as more reliable; however, this is not the case when purely female competence issues are raised. In the same way, in certain situations people of other ethnical groups can be treated as more successful and thus more reliable. Elaboration likelihood model suggests that persuasion can be made through the central route (logical one) and the peripheral route (impersonal one), which can be alternated or combined.
The considered excerpt on e-word of mouth is an example of several of the above mentioned concepts. Thus, it describes using the sleeper effect, when a bearer of information is changed from less to more credible. For instance, speaking about social networks, when people start reposting information that does not have credible source it becomes credible to them because this information is posted by a friend. In the same way, reviews of shoppers are seen as more reliable than direct commercial from the manufacturer, so manufacturers tend to use this effect.
All in all, persuasion is a complex phenomenon, which is based both on conscious and subconscious signals between people. Effective persuasion includes taking into account at least three elements: a persuader, the message and the audience. The persuader has to be credible and attractive; he or she should irradiate confidence and be a symbol of success. The message should be framed properly, while the audience should be treated flexibly in terms of their gender, cultural and social characteristics.