ABSTRACT

Ng and Bradac (1993) wrote that, ‘facts and logic are often insufficient for persuasion. Facts and logic, the prescribed bases of persuasion, must be adapted to the situation, and it is language and language style that will bear the burden of the mission . . . language is the primary instrument of persuasion’. How do others assess your stature? Performance in the formal role may be an important component, but in many situations, job performance may be difficult to ascertain quickly, or is separate from other contributing factors. One aspect of a person that is quick and easy to evaluate is what they say and how articulate they are. Listeners carry in their heads connections between a person’s language and their power. They learn that thoughtful people talk in a certain way, and unthoughtful ones, in other ways. Such learning is held in the form of stereotypical beliefs. They will rate a speaker as competent because, in their stereotype, rapid speech is held to indicate great mental ability, while a non-standard accent indicates low status or low personal control. The difference between peripheral route and central route persuasion was introduced at the start of the book. The former refers to the smaller, more incidental factors, that affect an influencee, and would encompass how they talk, including the words that they use. Verbal influencing thus uses the peripheral route. This chapter focuses primarily on one-to-one conversations, and complements a later one on small group and public speaking.