One Sentence Persuasion: Book Summary

The One Sentence Persuasion Course by Blaire Warren. Zig Ziglar would say “you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  He also said “the most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” Everything that follows should only be used to help people get what they want.

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.

Frighteningly powerful persuasion is surprisingly easy – because people have a constant need for mental engagement to distract them from their boredom. This need is so strong that we rarely think about it, but it’s always there. It’s why our attention is so easily captured by entertainment, conversation, confrontation, crossword puzzles, work, meditation, etc.

While some view capturing attention as the first stage of persuasion, many view it as the only stage of persuasion. No matter how unskilled you may be, if you can capture and hold another person’s attention long enough, their conscious judgment and self-awareness recedes and suggestibility takes their place. The easiest way to capture someone’s attention is to focus on THEM – not you, your wants, your needs, your hopes, or your concerns. It’s all about the other person and fulfilling their basic emotional needs.

And the easiest way to fulfill another person’s emotional needs is to encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.

People resist being sold, but they rarely resist someone trying to meet their needs. And when our needs are met, we have a natural desire to reciprocate that can be so powerful – people willingly leave their families for cults, pick up arms and kill others, leave long-term marriages and relationships for people they just met who meet their needs.

These needs are not complicated to meet. Cult leaders like Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite met them and commanded such loyalty that many of their followers willingly died for them.

ENCOURAGE THEIR DREAMS: We all have dreams as children. Unfortunately, parents often discourage their children’s dreams for “their own good” and children often accept this as normal, until other people come along who believe in them. When parents don’t encourage their children’s dreams, their kids will be influenced by those who will. If you don’t feel comfortable encouraging a ‘dangerous’ dream, validate the person’s need and the dream behind the dream instead.

JUSTIFY THEIR FAILURES: Dr. Phil tells people to accept responsibility for their mistakes, but most people don’t want anyone to tell them they’re responsible for their lot in life. Accepting responsibility is optimal for gaining control of your own life, but justifying people’s failures is essential for gaining influence over theirs. This can be seen in everything from politics to self-help books. And if we can’t justify their failures, we can at least acknowledge that there are many contributing factors to any situation of failure.

ALLAY THEIR FEARS: When people (especially children) are afraid, they won’t concentrate on anything else. And when we tell them not to be afraid, we expect that to do the trick. Does it work? No. Persuaders (with good intentions), on the other hand, work with people until their fear subsides. They present evidence, they offer support, they tell stories, but they do not tell people not to feel bad (unless they are using fear to manipulate – in which case it can work quite well unfortunately). When you’re afraid however, which type of person do you prefer to be with? And if you can’t allay someone’s fears, you can at least assure them that it is natural (and common) to be afraid.

CONFIRM THEIR SUSPICIONS: People love to say “I told you so”. It makes them feel superior. There’s just nothing quite like having our suspicions confirmed. Hitler “confirmed” the suspicions of many Germans about the cause of their troubles and drew them further into his power by doing so. Cults often “confirm” the suspicions of perspective members by telling them that their families are out to sabotage them. If you don’t feel comfortable confirming someone’s suspicions, “acknowledge the possibility and understand how they could come to that conclusion”, even if we don’t share that conclusion ourselves.

HELP THEM THROW ROCKS AT THEIR ENEMIES: Nothing brings people together like having a common enemy. No matter what you may think of having enemies, all people have them. Everyone is engaged in a great struggle, whether it is another individual, a group, an illness, a setback, a rival philosophy or religion etc., and he is looking for others to join him. Those who do become more than friends; they become partners. If you don’t feel comfortable throwing rocks, you can at least acknowledge the universal need for revenge, then talk them out of it.