A while ago, I saw this tweet from a prolific author:
Years ago, I might have been heavily influenced by something like this. It makes persuasion sound so simple… All you have to do is find the right facts, and, boom, you win. Right?
Not exactly. Like many clever-sounding sound bites, the idea that “facts don’t care about your feelings” isn’t as black and white as it might seem.
The truth is a little more subtle: Facts and feelings aren’t two separate things. They may appear that way, but in reality, they’re intimately intertwined with one another.
Example: A public figure makes a bold statement. His fans describe it as “confident,” while his detractors see “arrogance” instead.
If you pay attention, you can even hear people USE their feelings to describe facts. They’ll say things like, “I feel as though what I just witnessed was…” or “I feel like you’re doing something that…”
So why does a tweet that says “Facts don’t care about your feelings” go so viral, even though it’s so misleading?
Simple: Serving up facts is way easier than tapping into human emotions. It’s the difference between cooking a world class meal, vs. dropping a bunch of raw ingredients on a table and saying “here, chow down.”
Let me show you what I mean.
Persuasion in action
The other day I promised to tell you the exact words I used to get Amazon to give me a $100 gift card.
This is a great example of a situation where most people would stick to the facts. “You wasted my time — now you need to compensate me.” That’s our first instinct because we’re programmed to automatically reach for the easiest solution when trying to achieve a goal.
But facts alone can only get you so far. Telling someone they wasted your time might get you a refund of your purchase, or even a small token gesture (e.g. a $5 gift card).
But you can supercharge your persuasive powers by using words that COMBINE facts and emotions.
That’s what I did. Here are the exact words I used:
“What is Amazon’s policy for wasting 45 minutes of a loyal customer’s time and disappointing a 6-year old child?”
Compare this with something like, “I need to get compensated for my time!” Can you see the difference?
Instead of hopelessly relying on “just the facts,” the line I chose unapologetically leans on feelings to get my point across:
- It’s not about “me.” It’s about one of THEIR loyal customers. I framed the entire situation as being an Amazon-problem, not a Danny-problem.
- It paints an emotional picture. “Wasting a customer’s time” is vague — but a loyal customer, and an upset child, are vivid mental pictures designed to make the person on the other end WANT to help.
- It speaks their language. Customer support reps aren’t trained to pay you for your time. But they do have a list of policies they need to follow. Framing the conversation in terms of “Amazon’s policy,” allowed me to open a dialogue that could lead to a solution I was happy with. If I’d asked for $100 outright, the answer almost certainly would have been a swift NO.
It’s important to note that this entire exercise wasn’t just about money. A hundred bucks is nice, but great persuasion can make your life better in countless ways! Just look at all the intangible benefits I received:
- An extra boost of satisfaction from getting more than I was “supposed” to
- Setting a good example for my son
- The feeling of confidence that comes from turning a “lost cause” into a nice win
- Being able to share this lesson with you through posts like this
How could your life change if YOU were more persuasive?
Forget the BS type of persuasion you see in movies — which is usually just a form of bullying (“Sign this or else!”) or unrealistically charismatic caricatures…
Or the persuasion tricks you might read about online, which are mostly just gimmicks.
I’m talking about real, genuine persuasion. How could a skill like that improve your life? Let me know in the comments section below.
Please be SPECIFIC. Saying something like “I’d make more money” or “I’d have better relationships” can be OK to start with, but I want to challenge you to paint a more vivid picture.
For example, “I’d ask for a raise and get an additional $7,500 a year.” Or “I’d be able to get 5 clients in the next month.” Or even “My wife and I would have fewer, less intense arguments.” Whatever is important to YOU.
Leave a comment below and let me know what’s on your mind.