By Biraj Dixit :
“Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke and eloquence of eyes”
Just like that
If one is to pass through the long journey of life with admirable quantities of successes, then one must cultivate this rather helpful craft of persuasion. It is that subtle something that helps one gain enough mileage to turn any way into one’s own way. Don’t we all see one or two examples around us, whom we grudgingly acknowledge to have travelled ahead just because of their power of persuasion? Needless to say, that the need for such power is most acutely felt by those who do not have these powers in measure often required. It is their destiny to stand by the wayside and look at those having gallons of these powers flow easily in the streams of life. Persuasion can broadly be described as an act of trying to convince somebody to do something. But this seemingly easy task can be as difficult as making a tunnel through a mountain. Why, even prophets, sent by God Almighty Himself to preach love, compassion, respect for other paths, have failed to convince people to give up their inherent bigotry! Who, then, can we be to say we can convince others of anything? But some people are so well-endowed with this power to convince that they always get through, I suppose.
For, that is not merely a rare art but a faculty, which requires a certain nurturing. When I was a kid, I had this strong conviction that I could convince well. A little persuasion and I usually got my way around. It was only after I entered the real world that I realised true persuasion was a different ball game altogether. Persuading a father hardly requires anything. It’s usually his selfless, effortless love that sails you through. Convincing a mother, too, may not be as difficult. For, all those very watchful eyes are made of is extreme tenderness. Persuading your siblings do require quite a bit of energy. For, they are those fellows who might, if need be, willing to give you their kidneys or bone marrow, but fight to death for that perfect shade of lipstick, or their new bike, or the password to family’s only laptop. A few years in their company and one easily learns the ‘tricks of the trade.’
And by being difficult, they do prepare you for the world. Yet, they are not even halfway as hard-hearted as the real world. It’s the real world where your ability to convince is really put to test. And there are only a few who make it into the team and very, very few to reach the top. Whenever you view all those on the very top, you find but one common trait in them all – power to convince. But let’s not talk of gritty bosses, powerful heads and can-make-you-walk-on-fire leaders. Even in the echelons of what constitutes common people, persuasion is a big tool to navigate through. From getting simplest work done at government offices to getting simplest of homework done by little officers at home, one requires dollops of persuasion. Be it fighting for a just cause or calming a fight started out of no cause; be it wanting to get something done or for things needing urgent undoing; be it running life’s course or even letting life take its own course, persuasion is needed everywhere. All the push and the pulls of the world fare well if done with adequate amount of persuasion. But how much is adequate amount of persuasion is not easy to fathom. One learns only from experience.
But some are indeed quick learners and so steal a march. Of all the persuasion, the most important but most arduous, I suppose, is to persuade oneself to stick to the to-do list and the ‘by’-time. The enormity of my failures on that count is what has triggered my present contemplation. But the worst part of my association with persuasion is how easily others manage to do to me what I fail to do to myself – persuade. At times I feel all my beliefs, my convictions and even my unfathomable love for certain things are results of some quiet manipulations and persuasions. With sparks in eyes and fire in the belly one feels one can persuade the world into changing itself for better, until one is exposed to the real world with some real power of persuasion. Soon enough one finds oneself being easily persuaded into submission. Leave alone the big persuaders of the world, my own little one succeeds enormously where I fail, so utterly. When she came into the world, I, like all good mothers, promised myself to guide her into being a wonderful human- honest, careful, obedient and sincere.
Years, since, have taught me this journey was never so much about guidance as was about persuasion, along with good amount of dissuasion. Just some years and a decade down the line and my conviction about my own persuasive abilities is at a loss. I have been convinced that life has already come a full circle. And it is she who is now the master of persuasion. A slight long face and she sees her father’s icy glacial resolve melting and simply falling off the mountain. Sudden gush of tears in the eyes are but a means to strike at the tenderness of her mother’s otherwise watchful eyes and one knows how easily one can be persuaded. Why, gaining richly from Aristotle’s triad of persuasion, I have applied Logos (logic), Pathos (emotions) and Ethos (ethics), repeatedly to our interactions in order to be persuasive. But I believe Aristotle, while he framed his theory, did not have a 13-year-old in his mind. For in a teenaged world everything is topsy-turvy.
Your logic gets countered with emotions and emotions with ethics and ethics with logic. For example, a simple persuasion of “finish your food,” greets with a very logical answer, “Oh! I am done.” “We do not let food go waste,” a logical argument gets countered with emotions, “Oh Mummy, please, I can’t eat anymore.” To which, an emotional, “Beta! It’s just a few morsels more, finish it”, greets with ethical question, “Is it right to go on having when you have had enough?” Now, it’s my turn to go ethical, “How can we waste food, when so many other kids your age do not get two square meals?” The logical argument to that is, “How will me eating extra help them?” This is just an example of how persuasions, despite adhering to age-old wisdom and years of practice can go wrong. The trick is to find it in adequate measures. For, therein lies success – in admirable quantity!