The Brain Science of Persuasion: 7 Automatic Triggers

People make two major mistakes when trying to persuade others:

1. Using the argument that would work best on themselves
2. Overestimating the power of logic and rationality

The scientific study of persuasion has continued for more than half a century, yet executives across all fields make presentations based on faulty assumptions.
Instead of researching what makes people buy or make decisions, they ask themselves, “What would motivate me to participate in this program or buy this product?”

When learning economics, finance and management, executives refer to outside experts to achieve a level of competence. But when it comes to persuasion skills, most believe they already possess an intuitive understanding of psychological principles, simply by virtue of living life and interacting with others. Consequently, they’re less likely to consult psychological research on how people make decisions.

This overconfidence leads many executives, managers and salespeople to miss opportunities for improving their presentations and efforts to influence others.

The fact is, persuasion can be defined, learned and successfully incorporated into anyone’s communication abilities. It doesn’t matter if you work in sales, marketing or another field directly related to persuasion. Every leader or manager depends on getting things done through others.

(Based on the excellent book The 7 Triggers to Yes by Russell H. Granger, McGrawHill, 2008)


This is a brief synopsis of a 2000 word article suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences.

There are two versions of this article: 2000 words and 1000 words (approximate word counts). The full article covers the following sub-topics:

Getting Things Done Through Others
Feelings First, Logic Later
Ethos, Logos and Pathos
The Brain Science of Persuasive Powers
The Brain’s Trigger Center
Seven Super Triggers
1. The Friendship Trigger
2. The Authority Trigger
3. The Consistency Trigger
4. The Reciprocity Trigger
5. The Contrast Trigger
6. The Reason Why Trigger
7. The Hope Trigger
Six Steps to a Persuasive Presentation

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