The Role Emotions Play in Persuasion Success

More than 400 words exist in the English language to describe “emotion.” In fact, neurologists have even identified distinctions between emotions (the automatic brain response) and feelings (the subjective way we interpret those emotions).

Depending on how thinly you’d like to slice the topic, you could literally list dozens of human emotions — from acceptance, affection and aggression to pity, pleasure and pride to shame, suffering and sympathy. And of course, there are degrees of emotions that measure the intensity level of any particular emotion.

To simplify things, let’s consider that there are three categories of emotions: positive (hope, love, satisfaction), neutral (acceptance, detached, unenthusiastic) and negative (anxiety, frustration, loneliness).

Now it’s time to get strategic and purposeful about how you use emotions in the act of persuading. What emotions could you create? What emotions should you create, so that you can do the right thing for all involved?

Here are my seven emotional objectives to consider when building your case to persuade — or dissuade.

  1. Provoke, by causing a reaction, especially an angry one.
  2. Inspire, by giving people a particular feeling, often positive.
  3. Invoke, by enabling someone to see a particular image in his or her mind.
  4. Awaken, to make someone experience a new feeling or emotion.
  5. Arouse, to create an emotion, especially one that excites.
  6. Touch, to create a sad or sympathetic emotion.
  7. Ignite, to jump-start a particular feeling.

Building one or more of these ideas into your business case will materially improve your chances of yes success.

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