Persuasion Theory Essay
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Essay on Persuasion Theory
Persuasion is “… simply the art of finding common ground, whether existing or perceived. Likability is a key element of persuasion and should be taken seriously when discussing oneself or seeking a job.” (Levine, 2003).
Mortensen (2004, 9) defines persuasion as “…the process of changing or reforming attitudes, beliefs, opinions, or behaviors toward a predetermined outcome of voluntary compliance.”
Mortensen (2004; 4) notes that “Passion springs from a combination of belief, enthusiasm, and emotion…”
Bordens and Lorowitz (2002) state “Based on our processing of social information, we evaluate the social situation and form an intention to behave in a certain way…We engage in social behaviour based on constantly changing evaluation of the situation. Once we behave in a certain way, it may have an effect on the social situation, which in turn will affect future social behaviour.”
Smith, Nolen-Hoeksema, Fredrickson, Loftus, Bem, Maren (2003), “Cognitive dissonance is itself a state where two thoughts or cognitions are not in tandem, they are inconsistent and thus likely to make the individual feel uncomfortable. This sensation will force the individual to seek new ways of removing the inconsistency and thus see out a harmonious state”.
Seiter and Gass (2010) consider that “…The most important function in persuasion during a job interview is the willingness and ability to think..”.
Mortensen (2004) posits that “…In an ideal situation, the right argument delivered to an audience with a high WATT is the difference between whether the individual gets the job or not. The interviewee has the ability to change the WATT of the audience by engaging more or changing the length of responses.”
Donna’s confusion can be seen through the lens of Leon Festinger’s ‘cognitive dissonance theory’; it is ‘an impetus toward attaining a cognitive consistency and certainty’ (Radacovic, 2010, Para. 12). Although Donna knows what she wants clearly , she fails to master enough self confidence to express herself and persuade the panel that she has more to benefit them than she will from the job. According to In Donna’s interview, this dissonance is seen clearly in the steps she takes to prepare for the interview and her general demeanor and score during the course of the panel. She is uncomfortable despite the fact that she knows she is the best person for the job and that she actually needs to persuade the panel. To remove this discomfort, she results to defending her educational credentials which are already well-stated in the resume she had sent much earlier. This attitude-behavior discrepancy severely affects the ability of the individual to persuade.
It is a concept built on the desire to make others accept something new or unexpected, such as Donna’s suitability for the position. One must find a balance between their own needs and those of those they seek to persuade; Donna needed a job for monetary compensation, career development and to get permanent residency in Australia while the company needed the best person to fill in the position. Donna’s misgivings and lack of proper preparation denied her the necessary self-esteem to effectively communicate what she needed from the position and what she would bring to it.
To be successful in a job interview one must exhibit several elements which include self –confidence and passion. Both are expressed both outwardly and subliminally; in the latter the individual who has low self-esteem is likely to lack the correct cognitive and evaluative assessment abilities that can allow him or her adjust responses to either inspire or spur the panel into action. Donna’s interview was colorless at best and lacked the passion necessary to evoke the right answer from ones prospects. The missing elements in Donna’s case were all three because she did not believe in her own abilities and displayed very little enthusiasm. Watching the audience helps the individual to assess the effectiveness of her message by following the non-verbal cues such as posture and position of hands.
Donna’s position was understandably demanding and pressured because she was required to speak extensively about herself. Since an interview panel already has the resume and seeks to find out more about the individual, she should have enhances her communication to get the right content, both implicit and explicit, across. Her audience was willing to listen and participatory. Their intelligence, as the review panel, was high and their individual position was mostly impressed by Donna’s credentials. She had already catered for the impact on persuasion based on setting and clothing with her choice of attire for the day. Such a reach to a social situation can be positive or negative and cannot be taken back once we have made a decision and acted in a certain way. In Donna’s case, the decision to allow her cognitive dissonance to overcome her interest in the job affected how she behaved during the interview and ultimately determined the course of the interview.
The Yale Approach process of Attention, Comprehension, Acceptance and Retention (ACAR) was not followed. When the panel member requested for clarification, Donna misinterpreted his question and answered the wrong question, preventing the second step of the Yale process and thus negating all subsequent steps. Donna’s selection of outfit and her decision to arrive on time had already prepared the panel for a candidate with a firm grasp of punctuality and professionalism. The Yale Approach, in its original form includes a step called ‘Presentation’ which can be related to clothing and general self-confidence. This attention ‘hook’ would have played well if she had executed the rest of her persuasion properly but her confusion during the interview.
Words are the most important part of the persuasion process and should be used to control the arguments, cues and the ‘willingness and ability to think’ of the audience. Arguments relates to the information that is of crucial importance to the specific interview such as why Donna is the right employee for the job. Cues, which are what Donna treated the interviewers question as, are those that do not require serious thinking to influence. Had Donna successfully persuaded her audience to apply for her permanent residency, they would have asked for job arguments and asked her more questions. They would also have been more responsive and drive. With Donna’s seeming lack of motivation, she failed to inspire her audience. The audience seems to have had a low function and thus likely to seek out the cues of the interview such as fluency, glibness and passion. Since this function is not rigid, it is likely that the interview started out with high WATT which then reduced once the panel realized that Donna was tense and uncomfortable. Since Donna was too uncomfortable to focus, she missed out on the chance to ride the flow and ebb of audience’s WATT and thus failed to persuade them.
A critical component missing from Donna’s interview was her highlighting her other motivation for getting a job in Australia. She failed to leverage to the potential employer that not employing her would not only cost them the opportunity of hiring a qualified individual but would also mean that she could not work in Australia anymore. She instead focused on discussing her educational credentials instead of ‘selling herself’ to the audience.
Preparation for such a process is important because it allows the individual to answer questions of aspiration and answer related questions like they already work at the company. One must also let the employee pitch the company as the best place to work in as some leverage, especially when one of the motivations for seeking the job as in Donna’s case is not just monetary. Preparation is a key element of persuasion because it allows one to gather enough information to give informed responses. Donna declined to prepare because she thought her lack of knowledge would be a good thing; in essence , being relaxed and confident are dependent on whether one has a firm grasp on what they are required to respond. Donna’s best choice would have been to properly and extensively research on the company and the specific position she had applied for. This would have allowed her to weigh her academic experience and educational qualifications against the needs of the position and the company and made it easy to respond to the manager’s question without hesitating.