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We all hope to be more persuasive, whether we’re selling, seducing, lobbying, advocating, preaching or parenting.

As a professional communicators, persuasion is the most important skill you can develop.

If you can’t persuade, you’ll never get anyone to understand what you have to offer and buy into your ideas.

In Robert Cialdini’s new book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, he explains not just how to persuade others, but how to prepare people – or make them ready – to be persuaded.

“The basic idea of pre-suasion,” Cialdini says,” is that by guiding a listener’s preliminary attention strategically, it’s possible for a communicator to move recipients into agreement with a message before they experience it.”

The goal is to lay the groundwork, through strategic gestures and messages of association and affiliation. If you want someone to feel warmly toward you, he says, “hand them a hot drink.”

The book is a prequel to Cialdini’s 1984 classic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, on why people say “yes.” No other book has been as influential – er, persuasive? – about the techniques for gaining agreement.

In Pre-Suasion,” Cialdini draws on years of experimental evidence that supports the idea that “the psychological frame in which an appeal is made” matters more than the merits of the offer itself.

Carol Tavris reviews Cialdini’s new book in today’s Wall Street Journal.

By the way, today happens to be Tavris’ birthday. Best wishes to an insightful, eloquent and influential social psychologist and feminist!

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