When Writing To Persuade English Language Essay

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Persuasion is the influence of beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors  Persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person's (or a group's) attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination thereof.Persuasion is also an often used tool in the pursuit of personal gain, such as election campaigning or giving a sales pitch

Types of Arguments in Essays to Persuade

The two main types of arguments in essays to persuade are rational and emotional.  If you are writing an essay against hunting, for example, an emotional appeal might begin as follows:  "Every year hundreds of bloodthirsty killers go out and ruthlessly slaughter thousands of innocent, helpless animals...."  Obviously, many words in the previous sentence are emotionally charged.  A rational appeal against hunting, on the other hand, might begin as follows:  "Every year sportsmen buy their hunting licenses and legally kill the state allotted limit of animals; however, evidence shows that this practice must be stopped because the annual "harvest" always exceeds the ability of nature to replenish the dwindling animal supply...."

Rational arguments are better when writing to persuade, especially when writing for an English academic audience.  In the rational example above, for example, it would be possible to support your position with the number of licenses issued, the numbers of animals killed every year for the last five years, the estimated decline in animal populations, etc.  Emotional arguments work best when writing for an audience that already agrees with your position; however, emotional arguments are rarely successful in persuading someone who does not already agree.  It is best to use emotional arguments for an academic audience very sparingly. 

Finally, remember these points when writing an essay to persuade:

1. State your organization.  If you have been reading these web pages, you have seen it repeatedly. "Tell your audience what you are going to tell them; then tell them; then tell them what you told them." Err on the side of clarity. If your audience cannot understand what you write, or if your readers cannot follow your ideas, you will, obviously, not persuade anyone.

2. Use a straight line of development.  State your points clearly and support them.  If you have any doubt about how to apply a straight line of development to an essay to persuade, refer again to the organizational chart referred to previously. A straight line of development is what the U.S. academic audience understands and expects. 

3. Anticipate possible objections. Remember that you may not be able to persuade everyone to accept your ideas. There may be individuals or groups opposed to what you have to say. Thus, you should anticipate their objections and deal directly with the reasons for their disagreement.

Tips on Persuasion

Be clear in what you are claiming.

Tell the reader which claims are based on facts and which on values.

Provide good evidence in support of your claim.

If a connection between the evidence and the claim is not obvious, tell the reader the connection.

Discuss the opposing arguments and either provide a rebuttal or concession, whichever is appropriate given your evidence.

List of the methods;

By appeal to reason:


Logical argument


Scientific evidence (proof)

Scientific method

By appeal to emotion:



Presentation and Imagination





Aids to persuasion:

Body language

Communication skill or Rhetoric

Personality tests and conflict style inventory help devise strategy based on an individual's preferred style of interaction

Sales techniques

Other techniques:



Power (sociology)

Subliminal advertising

Coercive techniques, some of which are highly controversial and/or not scientifically proven to be effective:


Coercive persuasion

Mind control


The Persuasion Tools Model

The Persuasion Tools Model (see Figure 1 below) is based on work by the psychologist Kenneth Berrien. In his studies of applied psychology in the 1940s, he linked negotiation and persuasion style to emotional intelligence (EI).

The model can help you find the best negotiation approach to use, based on your level of intuition and your influencing capabilities. You can use the model to develop your influencing and persuasion skills, and become a better negotiator.


In this diagram, the horizontal axis represents influencing, which is a measure of your overall persuasion capability. The vertical axis represents the level of intuitionrequired when using a certain negotiation style.

The quadrants highlight negotiation approaches that may work best for you, based on your levels of intuition and your influencing skills. These approaches areemotion, logic, bargaining, and compromise.

For example, if you have a low level of intuition but you're good at influencing others, the best approach would be to use logic in a negotiation. However, if you have low intuition and are poor at influencing others, the best approach would be to use compromise.

Next, we'll look at each quadrant, and identify examples of how you might use each particular negotiation style.


Using emotion effectively in negotiation involves understanding the emotions and feelings of the people you are negotiating with to project your influence. So you need high levels of intuition, and good influencing skills.

For example, you and a strong competitor are pitching your services to the same client. You cannot offer a better service or lower price than your competitor. However, your organization invests some of its profits in charitable projects.

So, part of your negotiations include a presentation on how some of income from this deal with be used to help your chosen charity. You use a storytelling approach, including real life examples of how your organization has benefited charities in the past, and highlight the projects that the income from this particular deal will help towards.

Obviously, using emotion in negotiation can be risky, and you need to have a good understanding of the people you are negotiating with for it to be successful. For instance, the example above wouldn't be effective for an organization that only cared about making the biggest profits. Therefore, emotion is typically used by highly skilled negotiators who have high emotional intelligence and empathy with other people.


With logic, you use facts and data to make your case. You can use logic confidently if you have low intuition, but high influencing capability.

For example, you need to convince your company's executive board that it would be worth acquiring a small distribution company, instead of outsourcing that function to an external organization.

You've done a lot of research, and you rely heavily on the presentation of facts and data to make your case. You show the board exactly how long it will take to pay off the investment, and you use a computer-based model to demonstrate that faster distribution will help increase profits over the long term



Bargaining is one of the easiest and most popular methods of negotiation. To bargain effectively, you don't need to have strong influencing skills. However, you do need higher levels of intuition because it can be costly to use bargaining at the wrong time, such as too soon in a negotiation.

For example, you're in negotiations with a large software firm, trying to get a lower price for a large number of software licenses for your company. Your manager has told you not to leave the negotiations until you get at least a 20 percent discount off the retail price. Once you sense that the sales representative really needs your business, you begin bargaining by asking for 30 percent off. You then go back and forth with the sales representative, bargaining for a lower price, until you both agree on a 22 percent discount.


Compromise is considered the least powerful of all the negotiating styles, and it may be all that's available to less-skilled negotiators.

For example, you've been at your current job for six months. Since you started, you've worked nights and weekends to catch up on the workload. You believe that you deserve a raise for the extra work, so you've just sat down to renegotiate your salary and compensation package with your boss.

You feel that getting a 10% raise from her might be tough, and you're prepared to settle for a lower increase if she'll increase your other benefits. In the end, you accept a lower payrise than you wanted, in return for more vacation time.

Limitations of the Persuasion Tools Model

The Persuasion Tools Model can be useful for discovering your most effective natural negotiation approach.

However, there are some limitations to the model. For example, it can be hard to measure your levels of intuition and influencing skills effectively. So it can be difficult to know what particular negotiation approaches best apply to you.

There will also be times when you'll need to use a mixture of emotion, logic, bargaining, and comprise in your negotiations. So to be an effective persuader and negotiator, you can't rely on perfecting just one of these skills.

Make sure that you supplement this model with other approaches and techniques, and interpret your conclusions with common sense.

Persuasion Technique #1- The Reciprocity Rule

Reciprocity Persuasion

When someone does a favor for us - we feel obliged to return the favor

When executed correctly, you can appear to be doing someone a favor and the reciprocity rule will cause them to feel obliged to do something for you in return. The secret is that the return favor doesn't have to be equal to the initial favor…the return favor can be much bigger.

Example: Let's take the online world. How many times has someone offered you a free report to get you on their email list? And once you're on their email list, they give you free helpful content. After a while they will ask you to buy something from them, and if they really gave you good content you'll want to do something back for them and buy their product.

An expert at this technique has the ability to choose the initial favor AND the return favor, meaning that they have total control to persuade you as they please.

Why Does This Technique Work?

In society we needed a system that will allow us to do things for people without fearing that we would lose out. That is why it is so deeply rooted in our thinking that when someone does something for us, that we will return the favor. This way, we can do something for someone else and be sure that they will return the favor one day. Everyone benefits.

People who don't return favors are avoided and cast out by society, hence the deep sense of obligation to return favors.

How To Exploit This Technique

Give something for free first. This is hardly ever refused. Once the prospect accepts the free gift, he is indebted to you and feels obliged to return a favor (which you can then ask/decide).

Persuasion Technique #2 - The Rejection and Retreat Rule

Rejection Persuasion

First ask a large (but not unreasonable request) and when (most likely) rejected, appear to make a concession and ask only for a much smaller (but initially desired) request which is usually met.

Example: Ask someone to buy a genuinely helpful video course for $97 and when (most of the time) refused, make a concession and ask them to buy the book version for just $15.

Why This Technique Works

When you make an initial large request that's not ridiculous but still too large to be accepted, the prospect doesn't hesitate to decline. You're fine with that because you planned that initial request to be rejected. Then when you appear to make a huge concession by making a much smaller request in comparison the prospect firstly sees that you're taking a loss and still trying to help and secondly feels bad if they were to decline your request a 2nd time.

The prospect will likely think something along the lines of "Well…he made a big concession and his second request really isn't that bad, so I'll make a concession too and agree to his smaller request".

How To Exploit This Technique

Start by making a very large (but not unreasonable) request, have it rejected and then appear to make a concession and make a much smaller request (both in size and in price/time/effort).

The prospect thinks that you are making a concession but actually you are achieving the result you wanted the entire time.

Persuasion Technique #3 - The Consistency Rule

Consistency Persuasion

People want to be consistent in their actions. When someone make a commitment, they base their successive behaviour on their previous committed action and look for ways to verify and confirm that commitment.

Example: If you were to make a public declaration to all your friends and family that you're quitting smoking you're going to try as hard as you can to quit smoking (at least in front of the people you made the declaration to).

Why This Technique Works

The trait of consistency makes someone viewed as high-value, trustworthy, loyal and successful whereas inconsistency is viewed as flaky, prone to failure and being untrustworthy. We are conditioned to be consistent in our actions.

Once again this can be traced back to the early days of society where there is a clear benefit of being viewed as trustworthy so that the rest of the group will help and protect you when you need it.

How To Exploit This Technique

Get people to make a commitment, which then changes their self images. (E.g. get someone to sign a petition to save energy) Much larger requests and even requests only remotely connected to the original can be extracted from the person due to them wanting to stay aligned with their new self image (eg asking the prospect to allow a huge billboard in their front lawn to reduce accidents).

"What may occur is a change in the person's feelings about getting involved or taking action. Once he has agreed to request, his attitude may change, he may become, in his own eyes, the kind of person who does this sort of thing, who agrees to requests made by strangers, who takes action on things he believes in, who cooperates with good causes."

Public commitment turns people into the most stubborn resistors. Once someone makes a public declaration (writing or video), they are very unlikely to change their view even when evidence suggests that their view is incorrect.

Persuasion Technique #4 - Lowballing

Lowballing Persuasion

Lowballing entails making an offer that is never intended to be executed in order to get the prospect to make their own decision to buy from you. Once the prospect has made their decision to be loyal to you, there was an "accidental" mistake in the initial offer but you can get another offer for just "Insert reasonable offer here".

Example: A car salesman goes on a rant about the sale on the latest BMW how the price went down from $40,000 to only $25,000. He goes on telling you about the safety features, the warranties and the sheer drivers pleasure you'll get from owning that BMW. He even lets you go for a drive. At this point you're totally ready to buy the BMW, but when you sit down to sign the papers the salesman says that there was a mistake of some sort. The BMW is already sold or there was a mistake in the sale price or something. Either way, you want a BMW and you'll be much more likely to buy one, even if the price is higher than initially mentioned.

Why This Technique Works

The strongest influence comes from your own mind. You are much more likely to do something when you've decided in your own mind that you need it or want it compared to when someone is telling you why it's such a great thing to do, blah blah…

The lowballing technique works to create and support the idea in your mind that you need to do X through an offer that seems to good to be true (X being whatever the persuader wants you to do). Once that idea is settled in your mind and you've accepted it, the persuader removes the "support" and the idea of wanting to do X still stands in your mind because you've accepted it as being something you want and need.

How To Exploit This Technique

Entice the prospect with an incredible offer. The idea is that once the prospect makes up their mind to buy or take part, the consistency rule comes into action and you have them hooked.You can remove the initial bait and the idea planted in the prospects mind will still be valid because it is now supported by the prospect's own thoughts and beliefs. It has become a part of his reality and personality.

Persuasion Technique #5 - Social Proof

Social Proof Persuasion

We tend to judge correct behaviour by the degree in which others behave. It is believed that the more people who do something in a certain way, the more correct it is to do it that way too. This is human nature to follow the herd, and can easily be manipulated by others.

Example: You're much more likely to watch a video with 20 000 000 views than a video with 10 views, although the numbers could be fake and the video with 10 views could be much better.

Why This Technique Works

Social proof has the strongest effect when you are unsure of yourself (uncertainty). That is when you are most likely to turn to the actions of others as a guide for your own actions.

Social proof is also most powerful when it occurs to similar people as yourself. You are much more likely to bend to social proof when the other people are similar to you as opposed to being someone you totally can't relate to.

It's much more difficult to stick to your own beliefs when everyone else thinks differently. The reason is that you're making yourself an outcast if your beliefs or habits are different to the rest. If your beliefs or actions are correct then you don't have a problem, but if you are uncertain you risk being wrong and it would be safer to follow the actions of others.

How To Exploit This Technique

Social Proof is very easy to display, and it's also very easy to fake but even fake social proof has a very strong effect.

Testimonials are a big source of social proof. That's why they're always present on products and sales pitches.

On most blogs and websites you'll see many examples of social proof like a subscriber count, comment count, Twitter following etc. When you land on the blog and you're not sure whether it's any good or not, you can turn to that social proof and think, "Wow! 35,000 people are reading this blog. It must be good. I'll stick around".

The trick with social proof is to display it through people that are as similar as possible to your prospect. The smaller the similarity, the weaker the effect of the social proof.