Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Laws of Persuasion: Begin with Your Own Beliefs

Part 3 of a 5-part series

If you want to change customers' beliefs, remember to begin with your own.

So said American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson in his 1841 essay Spiritual Laws.

You won't persuade someone to believe what you don't believe yourself, he said.

Emerson asked readers to consider the attorney's faith in his client's story.

"If he does not believe it, his unbelief will appear to the jury, despite all his protestations, and will become their unbelief."

It's a kind of karmic justice, Emerson says: the attorney's bad faith stifles him and feeds the jury's doubt.

"That which we do not believe, we cannot adequately say, though we may repeat the words ever so often."

Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle put it nicely: "Let one who wants to move and convince others, first be convinced and moved themselves."
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