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3 Keys to Effective Persuasion

To be clear, goals spring from needs and needs are experienced on three levels:

1. Biological goals

As a direct result of our biology, we experience the need for food and shelter, among other things. As we age, new biological needs surface and these needs are often influenced by our gender. These needs translate into goals related to our survival.

2. Psychological goals

In addition to biological survival, we are also wired to pursue psychological survival. We all have a need to be significant and to be respected. When the related goals are supported and progressively being realized, we feel great. When they are frustrated or violated, we experience negative emotions — such as anger and sadness. This explains how perfectly civilized human beings can be transformed in a single moment to engage in road rage and jeopardize the lives of everyone around them, simply because they were cut off or disrespected in some way.

Psychological needs also surface based on personality type. Some personalities have a deep-seated need to be right, while others may have a deep-seated need to be autonomous.

3. Self-directed goals

Self-directed goals are consciously chosen. While they are influenced by biological and psychological needs, the direct connection is not always as clear. We may set a goal to make a nutritious meal to satisfy our biological need. It may not be as clear, however, that setting the goal to retire by age 55 is tied to biological and psychological needs. If I knew I could live to age 200, I may set my retirement age to 155, instead of 55. My goals may also be tied to be psychological need to belong and to be respected. Rather than act as impulses, however, these goals are often set after much deliberation. Once they are set and committed to, they exert as much emotional influence over behaviour.

Helping Others

The most persuasive people are those who seek to be the most helpful. It is only when we understand what people are trying to achieve, and help them achieve it, that we are able to engage people at a very deep level. The late, great Zig Ziglar once said,

“You can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

The world has changed a great deal since Ziglar spoke these words, but human beings are basically the same and the principles of persuasion have remained the same.

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