Persuade: (1) cause to believe: convince (2) a. induce b. lure, attract, entice etc.

Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary


A word can have several shades of meanings and many implications – and not all of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definitions (above) of the verb “to persuade” imply a positive intention on the part of the person doing the persuading. If I try to induce you into a course of action, lure you into following my suggestions or entice you into doing something against your better judgement then I would not blame you for thinking that I do not have your best interests at heart. What makes persuasion a negative term for some is not the act of persuasion itself but rather the people out there who use its principles unethically and without integrity.

Whilst there are no doubt some who would use force or unscrupulous means in order to persuade, it is up to each of us to ensure that we communicate responsibly and ethically.

Positive persuasion: the guiding principle is win-win

This is the positive side of persuasion that you will find in our Training Box.

  • Persuasion refers to any attempt to influence the actions or judgements of others by talking to them or by writing things down.
  • Virtually all of our important communication is persuasive to some extent as we try to move people on a daily basis to accept our point of view, our requests and our proposals.
  • Successful persuasion benefits the communicator as it involves putting yourself and your thoughts across convincingly to the person(s) you aim to influence in order to achieve certain goals.
  • Ethical persuasion not only works for the benefit of the communicator but rigorously implies that there is an advantage for the people with whom you come into contact in understanding your point of view or in following your proposals.
  • Positive persuaders look for win/win solutions that are mutually beneficial and mutually satisfying.

The Training Box recommends …
The art of influencing people
by James Borg 

Pearson Education Limited, first published 2004, second edition 2007