Persuasion is hard, even under the best circumstances.

Persuasive argumentation through writing is difficult, and always has been. This is because the medium of transmission (paper and pencil, typeface and book pages, digital transmission, etc.) creates barriers between the sender and the receiver.

With communication going digital, society has witnessed an explosion of words, ideas and concepts and have given rise to the idea that influence and persuasion is a matter of getting an idea “out there” and then believing an audience will pay attention to it and spread it to others.

In the early days of blogging, that’s exactly what happened. But now, with there being 157 million blogs on the web, and with 232 million people Tweeting and even more than that using Facebook and other forms of social media, the question for the blogging peace building professional is not  “How do I get an audience?” the question instead is “How do I get my audience to pay attention and spread my message?”

The ADR professional thinks about how to educate their audience about a particular process or approach to managing conflict and building peace through their blogging. But the power of persuasion can be applied by being aware of the following four, out of seven, areas first articulated by Robert B. Cialdini, in his seminal book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion:

  • Reciprocation: The rule of reciprocation says that we try to repay what another person has done for us. In the realm of blogging, this rule applies through comments on, and social sharing of, the content the ADR professional creates.
  • Commitment: The rule of commitment says that, once people have agreed to do something, they feel compelled to follow-through on the agreement. In the realm of blogging, this commitment is demonstrated by showing up and blogging every day.
  • Consistency:  The rule of consistency follows from the rule of commitment and states that people have a tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with whatever stand they have initially taken.  In the realm of blogging, consistency is a partner to commitment in the digital space.
  • Social Proof: The rule of social proof states that people view behavior as correct when they are surrounded by others doing the same thing. In the realm of blogging, this means channeling blog content through social distributive channels, aimed at gaining positive reinforcement from an audience.

These first four areas provide the psychological basis for influence over others; as well as the psychological basis for others having influence over us. As ADR professionals, we see these first four areas in play at the peace building table, but we rarely think about how to translate them into our digital content creation efforts.

The next article, will address the last three areas, liking, authority and scarcity, in the context, not of persuading others to read and spread the ADR message, but instead, in the context of blogging leading to becoming a thought leader.

Questions or feedback about this?  Write to me at or connect with me via Twitter @Sorrells79 or check out my Facebook Business page and leave a comment there, or message me on LinkedIn.

Up Next: Becoming a Thought Leader through Blogging

By Jesan Sorrell

Jesan Sorrells is the founder, owner and principal conflict engagement consultant at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT), a boutique, private, conflict communication and corporate training consultancy, based out of Endicott, NY. HSCT focuses on delivering Christian based, alternative dispute resolution solutions in the areas of conflict communication, conflict skills development and conflict consulting for a variety of clients, including corporations, higher education organizations and nonprofits. HSCT accomplishes this by leveraging cutting edge, pioneering and entrepreneurial resolutions to conflict, communications, social media, and organizational development for its clients through trainings, seminars, workshops and 1-on-1 consulting.