Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game

I read this book many years ago, but recently reviewed my notes (and wrote them down here).  The title is funny; however, the principles found in this book have helped me make a lot of money over the years.

My Notes

  • In order to persuade someone else to your way of thinking, you must align your mind with theirs.
  • Resistance is diminished when people agree with the presented point of view — affirm the individual’s point of view.
  • Steps to get to your outcome:
    1. Identify a targeted problem / situation
    2. Help your customer see that continuing with this problem / situation without addressing it will ultimately cost him or her in painful ways
    3. Have your customer identify a preferred / better outcome
    4. Have your customers identify the consequences of this new outcome
    5. Confirm that this new chosen outcome is what they really want
    6. Never tell your target he is wrong
  • No is an instant reaction and doesn’t mean anything
  • The more beliefs are defended, the more deeply entrenched they become
  • You must get the person to call into question his beliefs and not push a new belief structure onto him.  Statistical evidence is almost useless in changing beliefs.
  • Law of consistency –  When an individual announces that he is taking a position on an issue, he will strongly defend that belief regardless of its accuracy, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Persuasion Tactics

  • Discover what your target’s interests are, and if you’re not in tune with them, learn about them.
  • Synchronize with your target (match, mirror). Simply stated, be like your target. Synchronize voice and body language.
  • Reciprocity is one of the strongest persuasion tactics.  Give away something of perceived value to someone and they will feel compelled to do likewise.
  • Admit weakness. To win another person to your way of thinking, admit a weakness in your case before the other person does. This makes you appear trustworthy and allows your target to be at ease since you are doing his job of finding drawbacks in the proposal.
  • Find a common enemy. Nothing binds two people, groups, or nations like a common enemy.
  • Tell a story about someone like your target. People instinctively put themselves into the story you are telling. 
  • Show respect and give compliments
  • Present the product or service they should buy, last.
  • Be specific. People unconsciously feel better when they have extremely specific information.
  • Listen! Pay attention to every word your target has to say.
  • Introduce scarcity. When we find out that something we want is limited in quantity, time, color, or options, our desire for it increases.
  • Let them feel part of the group. There is power in groups — we all like to belong.
  • Build credibility by acknowledging the other person’s point of view and position. Use “I used to feel the same way until I found out that.. . “
  • Feel, Felt, Found Technique. “I understand how you feel about that, many of my customers once felt the very same way, but when the looked closer, they found that . . . “
  • Use experiences.  Get the person’s body involved first. The mind will follow.
  • Use Music. Music has a biological connection to the mind and body that no one can fully explain.
  • Limit choices. The more choices one has the tougher it is to make a decision.
  • People believe what they say, not what you say.
  • People will accept an idea that is the result of their thinking, not yours. The trick is to help the other person develop his own idea, which, of course, is really your idea. Do this by asking questions.
  • Mentally walk the person into the future, a future hat is without the benefits you can provide — help them see the pain.
  • The best communicators are often those who generate the most emotion, positive and negative, in others.
  • A good story maxes out at 4 minutes in conversation.  In a large group setting, the story can go up to 7 minutes.
  • Reveal you vulnerabilities, inadequacies, weaknesses to develop trust and connection.
  • Use emotion. People make decisions emotionally first, then justify with fact. Generally, logic plays a secondary role in the decision-making process. Therefore, using emotion to persuade is far more powerful than using facts.
Greg Barrett
Greg Barrett
Greg Barrett is the founder and editor of CREentrepreneur.