I was invited to lead a half day workshop for marketers and lawyers at LawNet recently on this topic. We covered a lot of ground – some of which I have written about in previous blogs (see links below), particularly the 7P buy in model and toolbox.

However, there were a couple of strands that were of particular interest in this session (effective communication and the psychology of persuasion) – primarily as it provided a framework around which to “hang” many of the other ideas:

How are we persuaded? (Zimbardo):

  1. Who (the communicator)
  2. What (the message)
  3. Whom (the audience)
  4. Effect (the desired outcome)

The six characteristics of effective communication (Heath):

  1. Simple, brief, profound
  2. Unexpected, surprising
  3. Concrete, real experiences
  4. Credible, trustworthy
  5. Emotional – feel as well as think
  6. Tell a story


Both informational (where there is uncertainty) and normative (where we want to make a good impression) conformity were discussed as well as the importance of in-group bias and social identity theory in the context of a law practice.

Recommended reading

There were a number of references provided for further reading although my personal favourite, and the one strongly recommend as it’s written by a psychologist, is “Influence – the psychology of persuasion” by Robert B Cialdini. His six strategies have served me very well over the years. Although John P Kotter’s work on both buy-in and persuasion/attack strategies was also referenced.

Favourite persuasion tips

I always ask about delegates’ main takeaways from a session, and this is what they said:

  • Visioning exercise
  • Understanding comfort zones
  • Deliver what you have promised and developing trust
  • Communicate in a different way
    • Be sensitive and adapt to different personality, cognitive and learning styles
    • Use drawing as a tool
    • Consider “one page” summary diagrams, storyboards or schematics
  • Strategies for dealing with different types of “difficult” behaviour
  • Regular meetings to both review progress/successes and motivate next short term actions
  • Physically sitting near and working with those you want to influence
  • Avoid labelling and “reframing” behaviours positively
  • Changing your own attitude and perspective

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