In Illustrations from Literature, Amy L. Person pointed out that in our eagerness to get people to do what we want, we
sometimes forget the admonitions of Scripture to be controlled by love. When that
happens, we quickly resort to nagging and scolding. This does more harm than good. To drive home her
point, the author related an Aesop's fable that tells of the wind and the sun arguing about which one was the stronger. At last
the sun said, "Look at that traveler down there. Let's see which of us can get him
to take off his coat. I'll let you begin." While the sun hid his face behind a cloud,
the wind began to blow; but the harder he blew, the more firmly the poor fellow held his garment about him. Finally the wind gave up. Then the
sun came out and shone so warmly that the man soon removed his coat. Amy Person commented, "Many times kindness and gentleness
will get results when fussing and scolding can do nothing but fail."
Our Daily Bread.
When Benjamin Franklin wished to interest the people of Philadelphia in street lighting, he didn't try to persuade them
by just talking about it. He hung a beautiful lantern on a long bracket in front of his home. He kept the glass highly polished.
Every evening at the approach of dusk, he carefully lit the wick. People saw the light from a distance and when they walked in its
light, found that it helped them to avoid sharp stones on the pavement. Others placed light at their homes, and soon
Philadelphia recognized the need for street lighting.
As others learn of the peace and joy you have in your life in Christ, they will recognize their need for Him. Your
witness through personal testimony may be just what someone is waiting for!
Bill stopped in at Abie's little general store, looking for a bottle of mustard. The shelves were loaded with salt --
bags and bags of salt. Abie said he had some mustard, but that he would have to go down to the cellar to find it. Bill went
down with him, and there to his surprise were still more bags of salt. Everywhere he looked he could see salt.
"Say," said Bill, "you must sell a lot of salt in this store!"
"Nah," said Abie sourly. "I can't sell no salt. But that feller who sells me salt -- boy, can he sell salt!"
Teenagers are much more inclined to take warnings about steroids seriously if the
drugs' muscle-building benefits are acknowledged in the same speech, say doctors at Oregon
Health Sciences University. That was the case when the doctors lectured nine high school
football teams on the effects of steroids. They found that football players who heard a
balanced presentation on steroids were 50 percent more likely to believe that the drugs
could harm their health than those who were told just of the dangers. This isn't the only
instance where scare tactics have been known to fail. In spite of a massive, ongoing
campaign on the hazards of cigarette smoking, millions continue to light up. Health
experts might be more successful if they acknowledged the pleasurable aspects of
once they had a smoker's attention, they could let loose on why it's time to quit.
Spokesman Review, November 13, 1991, p. C1.
Motivational speaker Bill Gove tells a story about Harry, who ran a small appliance
store in Phoenix, Arizona. Harry was used to price-shopping by young couples. The would
ask detailed questions about features, prices, and model numbers, and one of them always took notes. Harry knew that as soon as they left the store they were going
to head for one of the discount appliance dealers to make comparisons. Nevertheless, Harry
would patiently answer all their questions, even though it took more than a half hour at
But when the couple would announce that they were going to look around at some
other places, Harry had a standard spiel to deliver. "I know that you're looking for
the best deal you can find," he would say. "I understand that, because I do the
same thing myself. I know you'll probably go down to Discount Dan's to compare prices. I
know I would. But after you've done that, I want you to think of one thing. When you buy
from Discount Dan's, you get an appliance--a good one, I know, because he sells the same
appliances we do. But when you buy here, you get one thing you don't get at Dan's. You get
me. I come with the deal. I stand behind what I sell. I want you to be happy with what you
buy. I've been here 30 years. I learned the business from my Dad, and I hope to be able to
give the business over to my daughter and son-in-law in a few years. So you know one thing
for sure--when you buy an appliance from me, you get me with the deal. That means I'll do
everything I can to be sure you never regret doing business with me. That's a
guarantee." Harry would then wish the couple well and give them a quart of ice cream
in appreciation of their stopping at his store.
This is how Bill Gove finishes the story:
"Now," he says, "how far do you think that couple is going to get, with
Harry's speech ringing in their ears and a quart of ice cream on their hands in Phoenix,
when it's 110 degrees in the shade?"
Bits and Pieces, November 1991.
* People are more likely to change their opinions if you state your beliefs than if you let the audience draw their own
* Pleasant forms of distraction can increase the effectiveness of a persuasive appeal.
* Information, by itself, almost never produces permanent changes. In time, the effects of oratory and persuasive
communication wear off.
* People are more likely to change when the message is repeated more than once, and when the desired conclusion is presented at the beginning or at the
end of the presentation, instead of in the middle.
* A persuasive appeal is more effective when people are required to be active (for
example, by discussing an issue or by having to exert oneself to get information) than
when they are merely passive listeners.
* Attempts to change people by arousing guilt and fear rarely bring lasting internal change.
* People are most likely to be persuaded when they perceive that the communicator is in
some way similar to themselves. A communicator's effectiveness is increased if he or she
expresses some views that are also held by the audience.
* An audience is more likely to be persuaded if they perceive that the communicator has high credibility.
* If you assume that the audience might be hostile, it is most effective to present facts first (building a case), give more
than one side of the argument, and present your position at the end.
* Communication is most effective when information comes through different channels (for example, through pictures, brochures,
media "spots," and rational arguments), from different people who present the same message, and repeatedly over a period of time.
G. Collins, The Magnificent Mind, p.
A man named La Piere sent out letters to the managers of 256 hotels and restaurants across the southern half of the U.S. He
told them that he was planning to tour the south with two Chinese companions and he
wanted to know ahead of time whether they would be served. Ninety-two percent of the
businesses replied that they did not serve Chinese and that La Piere could save himself
considerable embarrassment by not showing up with such undesirables. He wasn't surprised.
Racial prejudice was a part of southern life in the 1930s, and this was long before a ban
was placed on discrimination in interstate commerce. La Piere ignored the managers'
advice, however. Accompanied by a Chinese man and his wife, he visited every one of the
establishments that said they'd refuse service. Surprise! Ninety-nine percent of the
places admitted the oriental couple, and almost all did so without a hassle...La Piere's
study points up something that's a consistent finding in the field of persuasion--that a
person may say he feels one thing, and then turn right around and do something completely
Em Griffin, The Mindchangers, Tyndale House, 1976, p. 179.
From the rule of St. Benedict, Sixth Century A.D.--"If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with wish as a guest to
dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his
lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be
received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he find fault with anything, or expose it,
reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this
very thing. But if he have been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of
the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does
not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.
Bits and Pieces, March, 1990.