How to use persuasion to a hard-core cynic

Persuasion Per se:

Persuasion is the key to get what we want in life. In business, school, everyday life, we constantly persuade another to think or to act favorably to us. But why does convincing someone on the basis of being correct and others wrong, rarely works? And despite logical explanations and facts. Understand: We are emotional creatures more than we care to admit. And logical explanation, without a thorough understanding of human nature, would only result in cognitive bias. The topic on cognitive bias, we shall take up soon in another blog, this time, let’s talk about how persuasion works even to a hard-core cynic.


What is a Hard-Core Cynic?:

Before we proceed in our topic on persuasion, let us define what a hard-core cynic is. A cynic is a person who doubts people’s motives are pure or devoid of self-interest. This is most likely the person you don’t want to deal with when you experience a traffic violation. Or present your research to a person of authority. But we all have to go through it in life in order to advance. We did the necessary work and due diligence, now its time to take action. Nothing convinces anyone but by the action we take. It is infinitely more disarming than bombard them with tons of words. Persuasion, just like the word influence, is best shown by action. And we can lay out our facts and say it fairly without getting defensive, impatient or irritable.



Look at the master salesman, he knows how to handle objection and does not take it personally. A best example I could give is my father. He was one of the best if not the best salesman of encyclopedias during the 60s. He won numerous awards as outstanding door-to-door salesman during that era. I saw a glimpse of his master salesman skills during the 90s when I applied for a US Visa. For a 19 year old college student in the early 90s, applying for a US Visa was not that all welcome in the land of milk and honey.

The default impression that a 19 year old, a grown Filipino male is perceived as an opportunist. He would travel to the US as a tourist and would stay beyond the allowed time to find a job. I know deep down, I don’t intend to work for Uncle Sam’s Country because somehow, we live a comfortable life in the Philippines.


The Stereotype:

However, that was the stereo-type they gave to Filipinos, especially between the ages of 18 and 30. Because there have been incidence of numerous precedence of illegal staying whilst they enter as tourists. In the meantime, while we were inside the US Embassy and wait for our turn. We saw one after another applicant being denied of the US Visa. The Consular Officer seemed to be cranky and perhaps all applicants in charge of him got declined of the US visa as we saw one dejected applicant finished their interview without even warming up after another.

Finally, we got our turn. We proceeded to the booth of the cranky Consular Officer who were assigned to evaluate my visa application. I brought along my father to prove that I’m under his custody and that I have a “comfortable” life here in the Philippines. The objective was, how could we prove to this cranky Consular Officer, that we only go to America for vacation and not to stay for good. And proof to show that I shall do a MacArthur, in other words, I shall return. Before my father could even utter a few words aside from good morning, as expected, the cranky officer was in his usual cranky self. He was straight to the point, and accepted no BS, because he can smell one even before you finish a sentence.


The Antagonist:

He appeared domineering and appeared to have lack of respect towards the applicants. He grunted and mumbled as if he wanted to get rid of us as fast as he could. But my father remained calm and unaffected. I can sense that my dad was not the one the Consular can silence like the rest, but my dad’s calmness was with a purpose. My dad did not interject but he stood his ground even when the Consular was raising his voice. I can sense that my dad can see through the “game” the Consular Officer was playing and he did not fall for it.

The turning point:

After all the pertinent documents presented by my dad to the Consular and his evaluations, he simply grumbled in a guttural sounding comment that seemed to irritate him. Finally, the Consular Officer commented about the Sports Club. He was referring to the Sports Club to which he read in a document. My dad took out his membership card in his wallet and hand it over to the Consular. Then my dad commented, “we play tennis at the sports club regularly.” The Consular’s face suddenly brightened up when he heard tennis. My dad took the cue from there and asked the Consular if he plays tennis.

Disarming the enemy:

The Consular told my dad about his love for tennis and he was an avid Wimbledon fan. Suddenly, the tables have turned, the Consular now was sharing his love for tennis. The next thing I know, even before the conversation was through, the Consular finally granted me a more than enough time frame on my visa. In hindsight, not only was I granted a US Visa but the Consular also shared his passion for tennis to my dad, a side not one in a hundred applicants would ever get to see. This was all because my dad became “present” in the moment, instead of pushing for his agenda. Persuasion is not just about taking value but giving value to the other.