I found this article to be mildly persuasive. But one of the core ideas presented makes it fall apart for me. Glaser writes that "persuading us robs us of our ability to observe things for ourselves." No, it does not. The only thing that robs of our ability to observe for ourselves is our failure to think for ourselves about information presented to us.
When information is presented non-persuasively, I suppose we don't have to think about it. But when persuasion is used, the responsibility for our choices falls squarely where it belongs, on ourselves. Persuasion is the attempt to influence people's attitudes. I find nothing wrong with that. Attitude drives behavior, so persuasive skill is a necessary tool for parents, managers, service providers and a whole host of others trying to either improve their world, their relationships, or at least their lot in life.
I think it a valuable endeavor to improve one's persuasive skills, since without this ability, one may have the solution to a problem yet the problem may persist; the answer to a question, yet the question may go unanswered; a way to move things forward, yet no progress may be made. Yes, it's true that people are all too often more emotional than thoughtful in their responses to the signals of persuasion. Yet for this very reason, when hope requires persuasion, without it there is no hope.
Dr. Rick Kirschner
Mar 6 2008 - 5:42pm