27 powers of persuasion: Simple strategies to seduce audiences & win allies
By Chris St. Hilaire with Lynette Padwa
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II
There are 27 chapters and 198 pages which means, on average, 7.3 pages per chapter. Chapter titles include the techniques St. Hilaire and Padwa advocate: 1) Focus on the Goal, 2) Evaluate Egos, 3) Soothe or Sidestep Other Egos, 4) Manage Opposition by Giving It Nothing to Oppose, 5) Make Your Weakness Your Strength, 6) Find One Thing to Like About Everyone in the Room, 7) Use the First Five Minutes to Make People Feel Safe, 8) Stay in the Present, 9) Recognize Their Reality, 10) Make It About Choice, Fairness, and Accountability, 11) Keep It Simple, 12) Own the Language, 13) Use Emotional Language, 14) Make Sure Everyone’s Invested, 15) Get Third-Party Validation, 16) Get a Couple of Numbers, 17) Arm Your Advocates, 18) Aim for the Undecideds, 19) Avoid Absolutes and Hypotheticals, 20) Learn How to Use Silence, 21) Get Physical, 22) Don’t Say No, Say ‘Let’s Try This,’ 23) Release Bad News Quickly and Good News Slowly, 24) Challenge Bad Ideas by Challenging the Details, 25) Play Devil’s Advocate, 26) Don’t Change, ‘Adapt,’ 27) Be Your Own Pundit.
Okay, the point of listing the titles is, basically, that these are the persuasive techniques these authors advocate. Do any of them surprise you? If you have engaged in persuasion yourself, do they look familiar? For those with no speech-communication experience, I can see how they might welcome a basic, persuasive primer like this, and I can certainly see how they would review the book positively.
From where did these ideas come? Not from research. The four pages of notes (pages 199-202) include 37 notes, and they are Internet sources, media interviews, or other resources that would not be considered “research” even if the term was interpreted in its widest possible latitude. St. Hilaire and Padwa write: “For the past two decades I have observed how my clients—politicians, CEOs,trial attorneys, and marketers—practice the art of persuasion. I’ve watched the best and worst of class in these professions, observed their communication styles, listened to their spoken language, tuned in to their body language. And I’ve seen that certain patterns always hold true” (p. xiii). The 27 techniques are based on observations only—one person’s observations.
Oh, not on observations alone. Catch this: “ . . . the powers are informed by the observations and wisdom of my Buddhist teacher, Master Hang Truong, a man I have come to respect as much as anyone I know” (p. xxix). Does this increase their credibility? Their reliability? Their validity?
I am not for one minute suggesting that the techniques (St. Hilaire and Padq call them “27 powers”) are wrong, weak, poorly chosen, or otherwise inept. I am simply saying they are based entirely on observation—not on research; thus, they become one person’s suggestions. If they work for you, great, but if they don’t, so be it. In my mind, as I observe the “27 powers,” I find them common sense. Anyone with any experience in speech communication (or not) would discover these on their own. Just think about it. That is all that is required. Think! (I award this book 1 star out of 5—less, maybe even zero out of 5!)