I've come to learn through my personal and professional life that the key to successful persuasion is the ability to frame (or reframe) the issues at hand in a way that is compatible with the way your target sees the the world.

Too often, people try to convince others of things by using their own personal frameworks, assuming that everyone sees things the way they see them. This is a natural human characteristic, so the average person is not a very effective persuader.

But many who have found success in life have developed the skills needed to connect with the way others see the world so that they are able to "get inside others' heads" and use the words, phrases, and rationales that make sense to the target audience.

Successful leaders are naturals at this -- they are able to communicate their vision of the future in such a way that others not only understand the vision, but feel personally compelled to help the leader achieve these goals because the followers are convinced that they will benefit from the end goal as well.

The art of getting others to see and understand your point of view is the art of persuasion. And the art of persuasion requires a deep understanding of frames or models.

A frame/model/framework is a specific view at an issue or activity. A good analogy in "real space" is where one person looks at coffee mug from one angle and does not see a handle, and another person sees the same coffee mug and does see a handle. The person who sees the handle might try to explain to the other person how they can easily pick up the mug full of piping hot coffee, but the other person will have a very difficult time being persuaded that this is a good idea because they simply don't see a way of not burning their hands.

This (very rudimentary) example does exemplify how a person who sees a solution (ie., the handle) might not be able to effectively convey why they are so sure something can be done to someone else who does not see this handle. The only way for the handle-seer to convince the other non-handle-seer that it's safe to pick up the mug would be for the handle-seer to:

1. Understand that there are other perspectives other than his/her own [open-mindedness]
2. Have the imagination required to be able to imagine another perspective where he/she could not see the handle and "get" why it would be difficult to conceive picking up the mug full of hot coffee [empathy]
3. Have the communication skills required to take the other person through a re-modeling/re-framing journey from their current perspective to the handle-seers perspective. [bridging]

In this circumstance, here's how the handle-seer could effectively re-frame the situation and effectively persuade the non-handle-seer into trusting him/her that what he/she is asserting is worth trusting in:

Mr. don't-see-a-handle,

I know this might sound believable or make immediate sense to you, but from where I'm standing, this coffee mug is safe to use immediately after pouring hot coffee into it because there is a handle attacked to the side of the mug. [open-mindedness]

I can understand from your perspective how you might not see what I'm seeing. After all, coffee mugs are cylindrical, which can block the view of the other side from certain perspectives. And I could see how, if I were standing where you were standing, that I might not see this handle either. In that case, I would find what I'm saying to sound quite strange and unbelievable. [empathy]

Anyone of reasonable intelligence would look at once view of an object and assume they can generally understand how the rest of the object is put together. So, if I were in your shoes, I would see a coffee mug with no handle as well because the 1/2 of the mug I'm seeing indeed has no handle... and why would I assume anything else to be different on the other side? I wouldn't, and neither do you. [empathy]

Fair enough. But what if you were able to rotate the mug and found that it was indeed different on the other side? This is what I'm asking you to imagine, because this is exactly what I'm seeing. So, just like I can imagine how you see it, maybe I can ask you to imagine how I'm seeing it. And to help you, let me explain what I'm seeing: I'm seeing a cylinder with a loop bulging out of it just large enough to put my hand through so that my hand never touches the cylinder filled with hot coffee. This loop acts as a handle for the mug. And this is what makes this specific mug so great for drinking hot coffee... on one side only (the side you unfortunately can't see right now) there's a place to put your fingers so that they never touch the side of the mug. It's a great idea and I hope that the effort I put into helping you understand what I'm seeing helps you see new possibilities for this coffee mug. [bridging]

The effort being put into conveying a different perspective to another person is usually appreciated and helps establish trust. And you'll need to establish trust in order to persuade.

I use these techniques to power my political blog: Our Karl Rove (OurKarlRove.com). Our Karl Rove is a political advice blog for progressive/Democratic candidates, and I specialize at re-framing communications and issues for Democrats to make their rhetoric more relevant to the average, mainstream American voter.

Too often, the Democratic party develops language and symbols that resonate with either the poor, elite, or special interests. They put very little effort into framing their values into perspectives of the middle class, which helped create the suburban Republican majority in America.

I believe that suburban America would generally agree with the Democratic party platform if it were framed in a way designed to resonate with their perspectives. And I also believe that modern framing and branding techniques used in business can be applied to politics very effectively.

These are the principles I utilize when blogging at OurKarlRove.com.

But I also use these skills at work and in life in general. People appreciate it when someone takes the time and effort to see things through their perspective, and exercising these techniques can help make you a more valuable friend, colleague, and leader.

Author's Bio: 

Jon Deutsch is an interactive communications and technology professional, whose passions lie in using communications, branding, and technology to make a positive difference in people's lives.