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Persuasion and perseverance

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The art of influencing others through subtle talk, using the knack of persuasion is a unique ability for a person to possess, and one that assumes additional significance in the field of business and management

The art of influencing others through subtle talk, using the knack of persuasion is a unique ability for a person to possess, and one that assumes additional significance in the field of business and management. The Greek philosopher Aristotle had extolled the virtue of persuasion in a person, who has inherent credibility, has the power of logic, and is able to touch the emotional chord in another person. In the epic story of Julius Caesar, soon after the emperor's assassination, his trusted aide Anthony delivered a speech which has been considered as one of the best examples of rhetoric. His persuasion strategy managed to sway the huge crowd's opinion about their deceased emperor, from hatred to love.

Persuasion tactics are employed by all salesmen whereby the gullible targets make investments or purchases without inclination. I remember a wily insurance agent who extolled the virtues of a particular scheme and the husband was persuaded enough - albeit I was not - to make me write a cheque for a sizeable amount, as a one-time premium. So we were in for a bad surprise when the demand notice arrived the following year, and the company wrote back that it was a recurring premium payable for ten years! The agent had vamoosed by then out of our city! This art of persuasion can go to absurd limits and can be seen in the unlikeliest of persons.

A few months ago a couple of marketing officers from a co-operative bank visited my house. My husband and I had just then returned from another town after completing the obsequies of my mother-in-law. I tried explaining to them that it was not the best of times to approach us. The person replied, "I understand, Madam, but please give some deposit like last year". I then plainly told them the reason for our mindset at that moment and requested them to leave us alone. My tone may have been muted for all he cared! He said, "I understand Madam, but please give some deposit for our year end."

My husband almost got up to close the door. Before leaving, the persistent person placed a brochure on the shelf near the main door and said, "Please go through the schemes, Sir and Madam, and make up your minds". It was hard to conclude whether a human or a robot had visited us!

There is another chap who can verily give lessons on persuasion to any student. He visits us once in awhile to make a deal for our vibrantly green curry leaves. He has an uncanny habit of popping out of nowhere as I sit near the window that faces the street, immersed in reading or writing. His "Akka!" startles me and the light smell of liquor around him switches me instantly to 'kumbhaka' mode.

I ask him to go away as I am busy, and move away from the window. He looks inside from the main door grill and entreatingly says, "I am poor, give me the curry leaves". I tell him that we are all poor before the almighty and his deal is not lucrative for the luscious bounty, and beg him to go away and leave me alone. He follows my movements and comes near the side door and says, "Akka, I will give you a better deal next time. Please relent. Prices have risen and I have two kids." I give in.

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