Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I don't really see the need for the neologism nor do I see the technique named by the title as "revolutionary." (Indeed, I think the technique is really an example of one that has already been named.) But I do see what is being done as worthy of thought and use. From a Los Angeles Times article on the subject comes one of several examples:

As national security advisor and secretary of State during the 1970s, Henry Kissinger was considered America's greatest international negotiator. When asked who he considered the best such negotiator he had encountered, he nominated Egypt's then-President Anwar Sadat. Why? Because of a pre-suasive tactic Sadat regularly employed that allowed him to get more from a negotiation than was warranted by his political or military position. Before beginning negotiations, he would assign an admirable trait to the opposing side (perhaps Israelis' "well-known" tradition of fairness or sympathy for the underdog or support for those in need) that fit with what he wanted. In other words, Kissinger said, "Sadat gave his opponents a reputation to live up to" -- something they then did remarkably often.
It may at first seem that Sadat's "pre-suasion" efforts were directed primarily at shaming the Israelis, at making them concerned about how they would look to others if they did not show some flexibility, but that is not the case. He reminded them of a moral ideal they possessed (whatever its merits) and set the stage for them to remember that ideal during negotiations. Like the other examples in the article, Sadat, was really framing his positions in terms he wanted his interlocutors to have in mind when he proposed them.

The above is hardly intended to dismiss this thought-provoking article: Anyone interested in persuasion has to take into account how the human mind -- which makes mental connections all the time -- works. Helping one's potential audience see the merits of a case, either by helping that audience value what one has to offer or allaying understandable concerns, can indeed make arguing one's case far simpler and more persuasive.

-- CAV

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