How Persuasive is Your Text?
“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be creditable; to be credible we must be truthful.” - Edward R. Murrow
Do you want to have the power to clearly articulate what you want to say? Do you want others to understand you, and eventually give you what you ask for? Do you want to get your messages answered, and your efforts to be appreciated?
There are many layers of successful communication. On some of them, we don’t really have influence. Does the recipient of my message know me? What mood are they in? Even the weather can affect how a message, that is part of the communication process, is received. Mutual understanding, empathy, honesty, are even more important. These depend on our skills and character.
There are also the basics, that can immediately put someone off, or prepare the ground for successful communication. The way we phrase things matter. And those details affect the quality of communication the most.
Did you ever read an email ridden with misspellings, punctuation errors, grammatical mistakes? Was the email successful in passing the message that the author intended? Probably not.
The range of errors that can be made in a message is vast. Not all of them are historically targeted in writing tools.
In our study from January 2021, we identified a variety of determinants that influence the persuasiveness of a message. All of them go way beyond the correct grammar or spelling. In this article, we explain three of them: logic, benevolence, and truthfulness.
Logic and arguments in a message allow us to predict beliefs regarding the conclusion of a reasoning. The theorists McGuire 1981 and Wyer 1970 explain that believing in premises leads to the expectation that a specific conclusion will follow. Furthermore, if a message inspires a perceptual change of a belief, then a change in perceiving the conclusion is expected. [I don’t understand this part and couldn’t find McGuire 1981] One of the metrics showing how well written a message is in the area of logic is the use of logical connectors. They connect arguments and help to make the message more structured. Logical terms are: then, next, another, besides, and, or, instead, … Benevolence
Another factor that influences persuasiveness is goodwill. It’s about providing help to your recipient so they had a positive attitude towards you. In emails you can provide help by, for example, summarizing what your recipient previously wrote to you (AI can help you with that - learn how). Alternatively, you can use outcome phrases (e.g., expressed via sentence structures such as: finally, in conclusion) or cues of scarcity (e.g., giving a deadline: next week Monday). This way, you provide help through orientation to your recipient as he understands what to do when (temporality) and what is ultimately important (usually revisited in conclusions).
The third aspect is truth. Your recipient will collaborate with you, if you are trustworthy. Trust can be earned over years, but some of the basic things you can do to earn it at least a little bit is by being friendly, being interested or showing that you listen by using the language of your recipient.
- Being friendly can be achieved through writing thank you and please whenever applicable.
- Showing interest for your recipient can be achieved through asking open questions such as ‘How should we proceed with the following topic?’ or ‘What is your opinion on this topic?’
- Importantly, talk in the words of your recipient! For this you can either paraphrase what they have written to you, if you have an earlier message, or you could make sure that you use the second and third person (you, them, their) rather than the first (I, me, mine, etc).
We illustrated the importance of logic, benevolence and truthfulness in message writing. At Persuaide, we evaluate how your email compares to 20.000 other persuasive emails in these categories. Our persuasiveness score demonstrates how frequently you use words of logic, goodwill, and trust. To identify your score, just paste your persuasive message into our editor.
You will become more persuasive with the help of AI. At Persuaide, we are set on a mission to help everybody to become better at communication.
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