Sunday, February 28, 2010

On Persuasion

The use of persuasion throughout time has differed depending on the persuader. Some have used the art selfishly to satisfy their own needs and to gain and retain political power whereas others were thinking of the whole population as they spoke fervently of a need that perhaps had a solution that harmed them. Even today, people from politicians to prisoners use persuasion. In fact, I would be hard pressed to find someone alive that has never used persuasion once in their life. I would like to say that I am a decent persuader, but I really have not used the art all that often, or for very important matters anyway. Sure, there have been a few instances that I have argued for hours on end and eventually the other person agreed… or just wanted me to shut up… But other times after the hours a simple verdict was not reached, and both I and my opponent were still just as stalwartly for our views as when we had begun.

When I do choose to argue in order to persuade someone, I typically use logic and facts, a tactic called logos. If I can use pathos, evoking emotions of the audience, I do, but most of the time that cannot be done. I suppose that I use ethos, getting the audience to trust you, and to believe that you have been where they are before, but most of the time ethos is not effective in my arguments because they are with people that know and trust me anyway. These may be the three “official” persuasive tactics, but I have an ace up my sleeve in the sense that I have a special trait that helps me win; I am probably the most stubborn and persistent person I know. I just do not give up, no matter how horribly the deck seems stacked against me. However, this trait does seem to be a double-edged sword in the sense that I sometimes annoy my opponents into submission and they really do not accept what I said as the truth, and that my stubbornness often contributes to my closed-mindedness. Yes, unfortunately, I am quite closed-minded on most, if not all, issues. However, that only applies to issues. On situations such as brainstorming plans and similar occurrences, I am decently open-minded. Either way though, the persuasive weapon of logos merely acts as a boon, whereas my own armor against giving up too easily, stubbornness, often acts as an equally strong bane, keeping me restricted to my own opinions.

To me, persuasion is an art form, one to be used and reused throughout the centuries and millennia to come as a prime, viable method of convincing. Persuasion has many methods and tactics used and seen daily. I mean, how many people have not seen a commercial asking for a donation for starving children in some foreign country? How many people have not seen a scientist avidly speaking about the threat of global warming? How many people have not heard a politician mentioning how he or she knows exactly what we are going through, and have been tempted to believe them? The fact is, people will use persuasion to benefit themselves or the whole group for as long as we humans walk the earth. For such a reason, persuasion remains an important part of society, and my life for sure.

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