The Art of Freelance Persuasion

How does a typical  argument usually go? You say your piece, your counterpart says theirs.  As the insults get more and more intense neither of you are really listening anymore and you end the conversation on a sour note.

It's everyone's dream to want to  know how influence people. How to find something you disagree with and not only enlighten them with your viewpoint but sway their opinion to yours.

It's one thing to plan your negotiations, like I did when I negotiated my raise . However what about when you are not planning on having to persuade anyone; like a dinner party, or when your wife won't let you go on that all guy camping trip?

Learning how to be persuasive on the fly is a pretty useful skill. Throughout your path to finding your American Dream, you are going to to come across situations where you are dissatisfied. The more you use these methods in your daily life the easier it will be to sway others in your favor.


One of our fundamental needs as humans is to be understood. So why is it that we do not try to attempt to understand our counterparts when it comes to negotiations?  The goal in being persuasive isn't to find an elaborate argument that will sway your counterpart. The goal is to identify what your counterpart's actual need is and getting to feel comfortable  enough to talk about it.

If the goal is to find the need then the question becomes how do you get them to feel comfortable enough to share that with you ?

The first step is called mirroring.

Mirroring is the behaviour in which one person subconsciously imitates the gestures, speech patterns, or attitudes of another. Mirroring often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends or family. The concept often affects the other individual's notions about the person who is exhibiting mirroring behaviors, which can lead to that individual building rapport with others.

To mirror, we simply repeat the last thing our counterpart says, with an upwards inflection so it comes off as a question.

For example:

"I want muslims gone"

"you want muslims gone?"

The upwards inflection will indirectly ask your partner to not only ask for clarification but also it directly says to your partner " hey we are alike."

Label their pain

Once you have started mirroring your counterpart's answers, you will notice them giving you more and more information. That information is a roadmap to their emotions.: the emotions that are driving their arguments. When you have unearthed the emotion, it's time to take the next step in understanding - Labeling.

Labeling is the act of bringing your counterpart's underlying reasoning to the light. By acknowledging what it is they are feeling, why they are reacting the way they are.

To label an emotion - you can use one of these fill in the blank phrases below:

It seems like ____ is valuable to you
It seems like you don't like ____
It seems like ___ makes it easier for your
It seems like you are reluctant to ____

The process of labeling and mirroring will put your counterpart at ease so you can start the process of getting what you want.


You have mirrored their responses to build trust, you labeled their pain to show that you acknowledged their problems. Now it's time to summarize their points back to them to further show that you " get where they are coming from"

The goal to summarizing is to get your counterpart to say "that's right" you want them to acknowledge that you are trying to get understand them wholeheartedly. That even if you don't agree with their premise you are at least trying to understand why it is they feel the way that they do.

To summarize, you paraphrase the message your counterpart is saying, while using your labels you have established then ending with an upwards inflection - "is that right? "

Bring up your points

Everything we have done up until now is to get to know our counterpart. How he thinks, how he feels. The reasoning behind this is rather simple - we all want to be understood.

By taking the time to understand before rebuttal, we are showing them that we have empathy for what they are trying to say or do.

Another reason for allowing them to spew their thoughts and feelings is people tend to get excited rather easily. When you are debating with someone they get so hyped that nothing you say will get across. We get so wrapped up in our next point that we are not pausing to learn. We are pausing to wait for them to stop talking so we can talk.

By mirroring, by labeling and summarizing their points, we are showing them you are actively listening to them and allowing their excitement to  calm down so that you can  voice your points with someone who is willing to listen.

When you present your points do not use an accusatory tone or phrases, do not use opinion as fact.


The act of persuading someone doesn't happen overnight. There have been plenty of times where I thought what I was saying was falling on deaf ears, until the person who I was talking to walked up to me and told me that at first they didn't care too much for what I was saying but after reflecting on it with a cooler head they saw what I was trying to say.

It starts with active listening. It starts with approaching the debate or negotiation with an open mind and quite heart.

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