Most books I have across seem to favour some form of techniqueing to achieve persuasion or influence. For example, Robert B Cialdini, in his classic book “influence” talks about what he calls the rule of reciprocation, which states that we feel a duty to repay others in kind for whatever they have provided us, that is we feel a psychological burden. So, do someone a favour, the argument (excuse the pun) goes that you will have influenced them to give you your way at some future stage.

Another example can be found in Jay Heinrich’s book ” Thank you for arguing” where he reminds us that rhetoric – which is the art of argumentation – is, in essence, a nexus of skills and techniques that help the arguer persuade others. Of course, Aristotle favoured the art of seduction – seducing your audience, persuading them to want what you want. He felt this was the easiest way to reach a consensus and the strongest form of argumentation. I can’t help feeling that in today’s world the art of seduction is getting closer and closer to coercion without consent!

I am afraid these examples smack of inauthenticity to me. Of course, they may not always be disingenuous, particularly if you are upfront with your intentions, but they seem closer to manipulation to me. I far prefer partnership – where we play doubles tennis with each other as oppose to single tennis against each other – in order to achieve consensus or something we can both live with. Whatever the objective, it is on the other side of the net and we are both working towards it.

To me, we will get far more by working together to achieve consensus than working against each other in what is often a winner takes all situation. Collaboration and co-creation, it seems to me, is far more likely to achieve real consensus and far more likely to bring about a third alternative that is better than both our initial positions.

Kind Regards,

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