Posted by: nmontague | August 26, 2010

Power of Persuasion

Being an attorney, I am naturally in a profession where I need to be able to persuade people that my arguments/ideas are correct. So I’ve thought a lot about how to persuade people. Many people seem to think that you need to have a flashy argument, you need to get someones attention. Or you need to convert people to your cause through the barrell of a gun.

But real power doesn’t come through violence.  Sure, you might be able to get some people to comply through the use of force, but you will lose their hearts. You’re power to persuade will be phoney and eventually someone will have more power than you, then what happens? You are forgotten, irrelevant, your power to influence people is non-existant.

But how do you bring people to your ideas? How do you get power to influence the world around you? How do you with their hearts and minds?

I think the key to that is being anchored in Truth. What is truth? It’s viewing the world as it is, as it was, and as it will be. In essence, you look at what’s really happening to yourself and the world around you. You see these things are they really are and not as how you percieve them to be. This isn’t easy because we all have our natural biases. We have assumptions that we don’t even think about or question. But we need to question it. We need to understand ideas. We need to understand what we believe and why. We need to understand what others believe and why. We need to learn through study and through faith.

How do you learn through faith? It’s very much like learning through the scientific method. You create a hypothesis. Then you act in faith on that hypothesis to test it. If you want to learn the benefits of sincere prayer, you act in faith on the principles. You live it in your life. You believe it works, and then eventually you find out for yourself that it does. If you want to learn how to make money, you come up with an idea, act in faith that it will work and either you make money or find out that that way doesn’t work too well. Learning by faith means you actually live and take action in your life.

After you’re anchored in truth. After you’ve become someone who values learning and education. Not just the formal degrees, but always learning about whatever is interesting to you. Read a Book at a library. Experiment with things. You don’t need a formal degree to be educated or to learn.

I believe that anchoring yourself in the Truth is the best way to strengthen your ability to persuade people. However, it’s not only the message that is important. It’s how you deliver the message. If you attack someone trying to beat them over the head with your point, it doesn’t matter how right you are, you will be wrong. You will create ill will. You are creating emnity and acting in pride. It’s a way to make yourself look important rather than convert them to the idea.

The best outline I’ve ever seen on obtaining power to persuade people comes from the Doctrine and Covenants section 121.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile

  
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

  
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

  
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
  
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. (D&C 121: 41-46, emphasis added)
I’ve thought about these principles a lot. The more I read them the more I am convinced that this is the only way people can win the hearts and minds of people to good principles. It can only come through persuasion, long-suffeirng, gentleness, kindness, pure knowledge, love unfeigned, etc. These principles apply not only into religious matters, but in all matters. Until we can learn these principles, we will be divided as people.  We will be unable ot persuade people to the full extent. But if we can master these principles, people will flow to you. They will flow to the truth. They will support you in your endevours. You will have real and lasting power to influence people because it will not be based on phoniness. It will be geniune.
I think the more people who learn these principles the more influence and power good people will have in the world around them. The tough part is doing this with humility.
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