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Admission Application Suggestions (Part XIII)

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Suggestions for Persuading People can only give ideas about how to start. The best starting point is to understand your audience’s system of values.

Although the values of “Yellow,” “White,” and “Black” people are not the same, one of their areas of overlap is the steps involved in the persuasion process: (1) the source of the message; (2) the message; (3) the messenger; and the (4) receiver. Each must be customized to the ways of your readers or listeners. For example, there are sound reasons why Black people prefer the form of the message by the messenger to be the spoken word -- reasons that come out of ancient Africa (which most Black people do not realize but yet continue to practice). Similarly, there are specific reasons why Europeans prefer the written word.
Based on a half century of hard learned lessons, I now rely on self-persuasion. The reason is that, in matters of serious business, I no longer trust the messenger, the message, or what someone tells me is the source. Instead, I go directly to the source and try to determine how much I believe the truthfulness of its message. If there is no way to determine the source or the truthfulness of the source, I then gather a tremendous amount of information about the source and/or the message attributed to the source, and compare the best information that sounds reasonable. Concerning a spiritual issue, I am influenced by the agreement of wise people in all societies and throughout all ages. Once satisfied with a solid “underground foundation” from which the message springs, I rearrange the message to be in harmony with the foundation: It matters not that the message is in the form of a written or spoken word: or that the messenger and he message are boring and hard to understand. What matters is the principle that can be extracted. In fact, I have discovered that the harder I have to mentally work, the more insight I get. Principles imply fundamental truths upon which rest knowledge, learning, and teaching. It is from principles that structures for sound thinking can be built and relied on for all decisions making and problem solving. Of course, I suggest this self-persuasion method to you as a basic tool for dealing with life.
But, according to psychologists, most people are persuaded by using the following general rules. First, attractive messages and messengers are more effective -- how nice you look and act; how neat the appearance of your message (e.g. essay or book cover); how much somebody likes you. Second is credibility -- how much the source, the message, or the messenger can inspire belief. Experts, authorities, and friends are more persuasive than non-experts, non-authorities, or non-friends. Third, people are more easily persuaded when presented with something familiar to them, even if it is far off the point. Fourth, people who speak rapidly about views different from yours are more convincing than slow speakers (listen to television commercials which sell “dumb” fly-by-night items). Fifth, messages are more persuasive when they arouse strong emotions, especially fear or anxiety; and then follow up with specific “cures” (check out the health commercials). Sixth, “overheard” messages or gossip are very persuasive. Seventh, the messengers’ trustworthiness and persuasiveness are increased if he/she argues a position apparently opposed to his/her own self-interest or presents both sides of the issue. So are emotionally charged messages that do not seem to be designed to change your mind. Eighth, messages backed up by facts, statistics, charts, and pictures are quite effective. Ninth, people tend to remember messages that form mental pictures and that are frequently repeated. And finally, short and clear-cut conclusions leave lasting impressions.

Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D