Gift of Persuasion

A quick glance at the lists of spiritual gifts mentioned in the scriptures does not reveal any mention of a gift of persuasion. But persuasion is mentioned several times in the scriptures, particularly in the New Testament. It appears that it is a positive quality for one who attempts to invite others to come unto Christ.

When we teach or testify of the gospel, and often when we make a post or comment on these blogs, we are attempting to persuade someone. We hope that we can be an instrument for positive change in the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behavior of those that we converse with. Unfortunately, this goal is not always met.

Some of us may have a gift for persuading others which may come through the spirit. Others might learn something of the art of persuasion, and use this knowledge to be an effective communicator of gospel principles.

I confess that I do not believe I have much of any such natural or spiritual gifts regarding persuasion. In my personal, professional and religious life I often gather a few facts and quitely keep them to myself, or express them with all the persuasive force of mashed potatoes with no gravy. But hopefully I can be taught!

The last couple of weeks of my leadership training through work has had to do with winning people to your way of thinking. I am making attempts to implement these principles in my life, and believe that they can be helpful for people like me in any area of their life. I would like to review these principles as they apply to teaching, testifying and blogging about the gospel.

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Once things break down to the level of argument, the opportunity to really persuade someone is probably gone. Best to avoid arguments altogether.

2. Show respect for the other person’s opinion.

Communication must be a two-way street. Once the other person knows that we understand where they are coming from, they are much more likely to listen to us.

3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

This will have long-term benefits in your human relations, and can actually add to your credibility.

4. Begin in a friendly way.

This has amazing power.

5. Get the other person saying, “yes” immediately.

Start with some common ground. Remember Ammon’s approach with king Lamoni? Quite effective.

6. Let the other person do most of the talking.

If the individual is rational and sincere, and you get them started in the right direction, they may come to the proper conclusion on their own.

7. Let the other person feel that the idea is theirs.

This is closely related to the previous principle. Many would rather figure things out on their own than to simply be told something. They will often be better off for the effort.

8. See things from the other person’s point of view.

This will often give you the insight you need to make a difference.

9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas.

If you dismiss their ideas, they may likely dismiss yours.

10. Appeal to the nobler motives.

Are they an honest truth-seeker? What would an honest truth-seeker do?

11. Dramatize your ideas.

When you teach the gospel, give it all you’ve got. Be enthusiastic and energetic. Reach out with your feelings and emotions. Help them visualize what you are talking about.

12. Throw down a challenge.

Often one of the last things you might do. In the spirit of Moroni’s promise in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, challenge them to find out for themselves the truth of what you are teaching.

Well, that’s about it. My hope in presenting this is that those of us who know and love the gospel can be more effective and persuasive in our efforts to invite people to come unto Christ. I hope there is something in this that can help in these efforts.

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9 Responses to “Gift of Persuasion”


  1. 1 John December 4, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve always relied on this sort of technique:

  2. 2 Connor Boyack December 4, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    We hope that we can be an instrument for positive change in the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behavior of those that we converse with.

    I take issue with this statement only because you narrowed it down to wanting to create a positive change. There are most certainly people out there for whom this is not an intention, unfortunately.

    Once things break down to the level of argument, the opportunity to really persuade someone is probably gone.

    Last night while walking down the strip in Vegas (and resisting the urge to vomit) I came across a guy preaching on the sidewalk, calling the passersby to repentance. I found it interesting, and since it was Sunday I thought I’d stop and listen. The person’s tone of voice was somewhat belligerent, and his style of “persuasion” as argumentative, thus producing the effect you bring up here. He wasn’t winning anybody over to his side by using the methods he was implementing. After I came to this conclusion, I got bored and went back to my hotel room.

    Show respect for the other person’s opinion.

    Is there any way we can email everybody in the bloggernacle and encourage this simple lesson? 🙂

    Let the other person feel that the idea is theirs.

    Why does this remind me of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”…?

    Eric, these are great points that I’m going to ponder over and try to better implement myself. Thanks for the post.

  3. 3 Joseph Antley December 4, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Fantastic advice. I need to write these down.

  4. 4 Michelle December 4, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    This is great. Thanks for sharing. !

  5. 5 Eric Nielson December 5, 2006 at 7:31 am

    John

    Thanks for the link. Another MP classic.

    Connor

    Does everyone think they are working towards positive change, even if they aren’t?

    How many of us occasionaly take the approach of this street preacher? This does not appear to be Christ’s approach.

    Doesn’t everyone in the bloggernacle stop by here? They should!

    I’m glad you think there is some value here.

    Joseph

    Thanks for stopping by BofJ, and thanks for your comment. Hopefully these ideas can help.

    Michelle

    Thanks Michelle.

  6. 6 Naiah December 5, 2006 at 8:57 am

    These are great guidelines, and make for more effective persuasive communication. I’ve unearthed a few of these on my own over the years (which has me feeling all clever right now…)

    What’s the source/author for these principles you’re learning in Carnegie training?

  7. 7 Eric Nielson December 5, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Dale Carnegie.

    These principles would be explained with examples in the book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.

  8. 8 C Jones December 5, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Eric, I’m especially interested in how these ideas could be used in teaching church classes.
    #4- Begin in a friendly way- seems like good advice. In RS last Sunday the RSP chose to teach a lesson on faith. It was a really good lesson, and ended up very well, but things didn’t really seem to go quite right for the first 1/4 or so of the lesson. It may have been because she launched right into some doctrinal stuff without any preliminary intro. So maybe it’s important to begin a class with something to set the tone to “friendly”. #5 kind of goes along with this, too. It couldn’t hurt to get the class members mentally “saying yes” right off the bat.
    I also like #10- Appeal to their nobler motives and #11- Dramatize your ideas as good teaching advice.
    Thanks!

  9. 9 Eric Nielson December 5, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    I’m glad you found some value here.

    You’re welcome.

    It has been a while since I taught any adult classes. But for me, some of the best experiences I have had in a class as a student was when I contributed something. In some ways, the less the teacher says the better – even though they do need to get things started in the right direction and make strategic segways to the next stage of the lesson.

    There was another experience you reminded me of. There is a man in our ward who has a bad reputation for making outlandish comments in class. I found when I restated his comments in a way that was a little easier for others to take, we all found that there was often something of value in what he said. When I sincerely told him that I appreciated that he made me think sometimes he just beamed.


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