Persuasion As a Social Skill

Authored by: James Price Dillard , Linda J. Marshall

Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

Print publication date:  January  2003
Online publication date:  February  2003

Print ISBN: 9780805834178
eBook ISBN: 9781410607133
Adobe ISBN: 9781135664114


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On some occasions, it is illuminating to view the various means by which individuals endeavor to “get their way” as arrayed on a continuum (cf., Brown & Levinson, 1987; Hunter & Boster, 1988). The continuum is bounded at one end by no message behavior, that is, doing nothing. This anchor accurately reflects the fact that there are many instances in which individuals wish to achieve some persuasive end but judge that the effort will not be worth the trouble (Dillard, 1990a, 1990b; Solomon & Samp, 1998), so they take no action whatsoever. If this is defined as the left pole of the dimension, then as we move slightly to the right we encounter an assortment of “nice” techniques that might include a simple, polite request, a promise of a future favor in return for compliance today, or an appeal to the target’s sense of altruism (“Will you help me?”). Further movement to the right traverses territory that becomes increasingly hostile, moving through criticism, negative altercasting (“Only a bad person could refuse my request”), and threat, before arriving at the opposite anchor: physical aggression.

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