Strategies to deal with resistance to persuasion in audience


Resistance to persuasion is a common issue. So, what are some strategies for dealing with it?
Resistance to persuasion is a normal and natural part of the persuasion process. Effective persuasion strategies take this resistance into account and try to overcome it. People may resist attempts at persuasion for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Disagreeing with the message or the messenger
  • Having prior beliefs or attitudes that conflict with the message
  • Seeing the persuasion attempt as a threat to their autonomy or identity
  • They may be skeptical of the credibility or trustworthiness of the messenger
  • They may lack the motivation to change their behavior or attitudes.

So, it helps before any attempts at persuasion to analyze the situation in which this attempt is being made and to use effective persuasion strategies that take this resistance into account.

10 tipps how to overcome resistance to persuasion

  1. Using data to support your argument.
  2. Structuring your argument well so that your audience can easily understand your message.
  3. Finding common ground with your audience.
  4. Appealing to the audience’s emotions and values.
  5. Using storytelling to illustrate the benefits of your idea.
  6. Using expert testimony or social proof to build credibility.
  7. Using rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions, repetition and parallel structure* to make your message more persuasive.
  8. Using visual aids such as charts, graphs, and images to support your argument.
  9. Using personal presence and confidence when delivering your message.
  10. Addressing any objections or counter arguments to your idea.

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How convincing are your ideas? When you want to persuade, can you successfully adapt to your audience? Do you know how to back-up your ideas with reasons that others find convincing, using effective rhetorical devices? Effective persuasion is the ability to influence the behaviour of others. It is a skill that is extremely important in business and personal relationships. In this hands-on seminar you will sustainably optimise your personal linguistic style and gain in persuasiveness and influence.

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It is also important to be aware of different communication styles and to assess the mood of your audience and to adapt to this. If, for example, you are communicating with a group that is more skeptical or critical, be more analytical. Your body language may need to be more vigilant and reserved rather than enthusiastic. However, this is also culturally dependent. If on the other hand, the group is more open to your ideas, more nonverbal engagement and enthusiasm may be appropriate. The alignment of your nonverbal communication to your message is an important factor in persuading your audience. We rely heavily on nonverbal signals to assess levels of competence and trustworthiness within a particular context.

*Parallel structure: a rhetorical device used in speaking and writing to create balance and emphasis by repeating similar grammatical patterns within a sentence or series of sentences. This creates a sense of rhythm and coherence that makes the message more memorable and persuasive. For example, “The company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, increasing employee satisfaction, and boosting profits” is not parallel. To make it parallel, it could be rephrased as “The company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, to increasing employee satisfaction, and to boosting profits.” Parallel structure is commonly used in speeches and other forms of communication to make the message more clear, concise, and persuasive.

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Jillian Anderton

M. Sc. in applied linguistics. Member of staff at the Sprachenzentrum, TU Darmstadt. Trainer, consultant and coach for business English. Areas of expertise: intercultural corporate management, working in international teams, international negotiations and presentations.

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