The Art of Persuasion

December 19th, 2013 @   -  One Comment

Have you ever tried to get your employees, friends or family members to do something and they did not? What methods did you use? Do you force others into action? How does that usually go? Do they become more resistant or carry out the task reluctantly with poor results?

If you want to convince people to do what you want, or better still, to want to do it, try persuasion.

Persuasion is the art of convincing someone to want to do what you want them to do. The Prophet (PBUH) was a master of persuasion. He brought a message, which was at odds with the prevailing culture of Arabia at that time, and managed to convince his followers not only to follow his message but also to die for it.

As a leader, what are the lessons you can learn from the Prophet’s (PBUH) style of persuasion? Here are the seven major ones:

Avoid coercion

It is very common for people in positions of authority to try to coerce others to do what they want them to do. Coercion may work in some limited circumstances, but it generally fails. People tend to become more resistant when coerced, and what they do when forced, they do badly. The companions of the Prophet (PBUH) have reported that he never coerced anyone, not even his slaves at home, to do anything.

Even in matters of religion, Allah has commanded against coercion, “Let there be no compulsion in religion…” (Quran 2:256). He also says, “Say, ‘The truth is from your Lord’: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it)” (Quran 18:029).

Integrity of character

Aristotle said, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” Similarly, Zig Ziglar asserts, “The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”

People are more easily persuaded by someone they trust. One of the main drivers for the Prophet’s followers is his high moral character. He was called the truthful and the trustworthy. Right at the beginning of his mission as a messenger, Allah reassures him that “…thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character” (Quran 68:004).

Role modeling

Are you practicing what you are asking from others? The Prophet (PBUH) never asked people to do something that he was not ready to do himself. His words and actions were always in congruence. This made it easy for his followers to follow his example and they always did.

In an incident, after the treaty of Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (PBUH) asked his companions to terminate their ihram by shaving their heads and offering the sacrifice. When they did not do it, Umm Salamah, his wife, suggested that he should offer his sacrifice and shave his head. When he did, everyone else followed. This incident teaches us that even the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) who were so eager to follow the Prophet’s commands, sometimes had doubts until the leader himself gave the example.

The Nature of the Action

Consider the nature of what you are trying to persuade others to do. Is it beneficial to others? Is it ethical? The Prophet (PBUH) was the most ethical person, and he never preached anything except what is best for humanity in this life and the hereafter.

Head and Heart appeal

Is the message you are delivering clear and unambiguous? Does your audience get it? Does it appeal to the mind by its logic and to the heart by its emotional appeal? It is often said that the head never hears until the heart has listened. Your message needs to move people from within.

The benefits

Extensive research has been conducted over the years on the subject of persuasion. There is unanimous agreement among researchers that people are most likely to be persuaded to do something if they can see the benefit either to them or to others. It is therefore important to make the benefit clear. It is also important to show the consequences. The Quran as well as the prophetic traditions are full of examples presenting both the benefits and the consequences for people to contemplate.

Communication skills

Persuasion is a communication skill. It requires knowledge of the proper manners of speaking as well as knowledge of how to speak effectively. How good are your communication skills? Please refer to the articles on the art of effective communication in our library. There are also thousands of books and articles out there you can read to sharpen your communication skills.

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One Comment → “The Art of Persuasion”

  1. yaquine

    4 years ago

    Thanks so much, so helpful, jazaka allaho kola kheir


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