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Experts! Speak English! #128

The Power of Persuasion in International Business Communication

What is Persuasion?

Persuasion – Überzeugung
The action, process or communication that encourages or motivates, perhaps convinces someone to do or believe something.

In context…

“Coco do you want to go for an ice cream?”
“I’d love to, but I am trying to lose weight”
“But you have just come back from a 90 minute walk with your clients and you went swimming this morning!”
“Oh, ok, you have persuaded me.
“I’m a master of persuasion, you should know that by now!

Other words for persuasion
influence, conviction, motivation,coaxing, coercion (negative) encouragement, prompting, urging, enticement, putting pressure on (negative),

late Middle English: from Latin persuasio(n-), from the verb persuadere.


Now persuasion gets a bit of a bad rap! (bad reputation) People always seem to assume that persuasion is about getting people to do something that they don’t want to do or buy something that they don’t really need to buy. But actually, if you’re smart, you can use persuasion to get people to do what they really do want – deep down. Maybe there’s something in their way. Maybe there’s something holding them back and these people are struggling to get out of their comfort zone. If you could use persuasion to make people step up and be the best that they can be wouldn’t you want to learn persuasion skills?

Welcome to the Experts! Speak English! podcast. This is the show where we’re finding out how to be more dynamic, more authentic and more persuasive communicators-  in English.

My name is Corinne Wilhelm and I’m based in Berlin working outdoors and online with experts that might not have been discovered as the expert yet – or certainly aren’t getting the opportunities and recognition that they feel that they really deserve.

So … persuasion. I’ve always been interested in how people can be very, very persuasive in the most quirky and unusual ways. When I was growing up, we used to have a Golden Retriever, we lived in the UK at the time and Meg wasn’t allowed to go upstairs so if she could hear us talking upstairs you’d hear this kind of knock knock knock. This would be her tail wagging and as we talked more and it got more animated as we gradually woke up (speaking louder and more animatedly) it would get faster and faster and FASTER until you couldn’t really lay in bed any longer because that’s so persuasive right? You just can’t resist. Meg wanted to go out for a walk she wanted some company so sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all. So dogs – not being able to talk – have to resort to other actions to get your attention.

And that’s really all it is –  getting your attention in a motivational way – authentic, unconditional love is kind of irresistible I find.I remember as a little girl I was quite a cute little thing back then and you know I had my freckles and my curly hair and I was quite cheeky and I’d be able to persuade people to do all kinds of things. It feels quite nice doesn’t it, if you can persuade somebody to do something for you?

Tell them why!
As a little girl you don’t want much do you?
You just want an ice cream or something like that but it’s kind of a bit of a game you know to see if you can persuade somebody to do something.  It could be something as simple as getting somebody to give you a lift somewhere, if you ask them “Could you do me a favour…?” ,you’ve got a MUCH better chance of getting them to do that favour according to quite a few different pieces of research if you actually tell people WHY you want them to do it. So just by telling them why -it doesn’t have to be an amazing reason, like WoW! It just has to be an explanation, like somehow when people get an explanation they’re like oh ok. It could be something as simple as, you know, standing in line at the supermarket and you’re like “Oh dear my parking is going to run out really soon I’m going to get a ticket!” If you go with that explanation they’re much more likely to say “Oh come on, go in front of me,  you’ve only got two two or three things.” You see we as human beings we’re normally more than happy to help somebody else in that situation too, right? So by giving somebody a reason for doing something you’re in a much better position to be persuasive.

Coming back to the little girl you know quite often as young things we’re asking lots of questions aren’t we? “But why do we do that?!” “Yeah, but why don’t you do it this way?” “And what happens then?” Now all of these questions – they can be a bit irritating after a while I know. But they’re also quite intriguing aren’t they? To see how somebody’s thinking and if somebody asking you questions they’re putting you in a position of knowledge. You think “Oh this is quite nice, she’s asking me all these questions, (s)he obviously thinks I know everything.

You know I’m the kind of person people ask me all kinds of questions it’s quite bizarre I get asked the most amazing things but you know it’s incredible – if you think about it,  you often DO know the answer or you can certainly FIND the answer or you can find somebody who would know the answer. So I quite like answering people’s questions, as bizarre as they sometimes might be, because if people are curious that to me is a very intriguing factor. I love people that are curious I love people are looking for a better way of doing something, or looking for a different way of you know expressing themselves. So if people are curious, you are naturally drawn to them.

If you like somebody you’re much more likely to do something for them – especially if somebody gives you something first. You know, if a little girl came up to you and she gave you a flower, well the chances are pretty high that when she says “Oh shall we go for an ice cream?” that you’ll go (say) “Oh ok, go on then” And it’s the same in business we give our (potential) clients  some kind of freebie right? We need to give them an opportunity to see you know how we tick, how we work, how professional we are, how creative we are – whatever it is that you think that they might need from you. So, you give them an opportunity to test you out. So in end effect (ultimately) you’re actually giving them something first and then the chances are that because they’ve seen something decent they’ll come back and see what else you have to offer. It’s just a way of getting to know you a little bit.

Now in the world of persuasion according to Robert B Chiardini at least 6 (six) key factors come up – he’s written a great book if you want to read/give this book it’s fantastic! It’s called Influence The psychology of Persuasion. It’s brilliant. I’ll put the full details in the show notes of course but he names six fundamental principles these are
1. reciprocation 2. scarcity 3. consistency 4. social proof 5. likability and 6. authority.

Now i’m not going to go through all of those in this episode, because I like to keep these episodes fairly short. But I am going to look at 3 (three) of these points. In terms of reciprocation then like i just mentioned if somebody gives you something you’re more likely to want to give them something back and I’m the kind of person i get a real kick out of – you know how sometimes you go into a shop and you see something – it might not be expensive but it’s something and you just see it you think oh Nera would love that or Anastasia would love that or Susanna would love that or somebody you know one of your clients –  it would just be perfect for them or a friend of yours or your Dad or whoever – I don’t know about you, but I think buying presents for men is so hard right? So when you see something for a guy you have to pounce on it right? Because by the time it comes to their birthday I will have forgotten all about this thing so you have to buy it like now! So when I’m out and about in the shops I’ve always got this kind of radar up for things that people might like and I really quite enjoy packaging it up nicely, putting in a nice box because in Germany it has to be in a box they won’t send it in any other shape so you have to start collecting boxes if you move to Germany. Then you have to go to the post office this is definitely a down part of this whole thing but sending something real in the post is something I really get a kick out of it.

But i don’t do it to get something back but inadvertently I have just realised that it might well help me to talk them into doing things more afterwards. I’m not talking them into buying something because they’ve already bought from me at that point but I’ll have a better chance of persuading them to try something new or I’ll have a better chance of persuading them to actually write that thought leadership piece that we said we were gonna write and they keep putting off or I’ll have a better chance of pulling them in somehow, so you know being persuasive isn’t always a negative thing.

Sometimes being persuasive can be encouraging! Like you would do with a friend to, you know,  join the gym or join you for a drink because they really need a break or you know take a few days off with their hubby or whatever it is. Because sometimes it can be a great thing so RECIPROCITY is the first thing and you know that’s why we get free samples when we go into a supermarket. Sometimes here in Germany it’s a a common practice at the meats and cheeses counter to give the young kids like um a little bit of salami or something (on an INCREDIBLY sharp fork) but anyway, they give your child a little piece of salami. You know, most kids – they’re kind of getting a bit bored by the meat counter aren’t they? So you know, they take the salami and you’re like “Oh thank you! Thank you! You’re thinking “I’ve got a bit of peace now!” and then you end up buying probably a bit more than you would normally, don’t you “Ooh that looks good, Oh I’ll take some of that oh and that looks quite good too!” And before you know it, you’ve bought like six slabs of cheese. I mean, come on! Who’s gonna eat like six chunks of cheese in one week? But that’s the way it works.

So the next thing is SCARCITY now this is something – I come from a marketing background, so we know all about this – If there’s only one thing left or there’s only a few days left then we have this Fear Of Missing Out don’t we, or FOMO feeling. We don’t want to miss out. You go to a shop, you see one really lovely thing AND it’s in YOUR size and you’re clutching it so tightly your knuckles are white! Because you’re desperate that nobody comes and snatches it from under your nose. That’s why we walk around with like 15 coat hangers under our arms – that’s not a comfortable way to shop but it could be that somebody else, your size is following you!  (A little bit of self deprecating laughter) So scarcity is a real thing and you know at the beginning when you launch a program then obviously it might well be limited in the amount of places that you have but if there’s only 12 places then you definitely have to tell people that there are only 12 places because that will inspire them to make that decision to sign up or whatever it is that you want them to do.

So scarcity is a real thing – that’s why we get emails saying last chance last day to register, closing at midnight – this kind of thing. That’s why they use it and they wouldn’t be using it if it wasn’t effective so scarcity is definitely something that you can use be more persuasive. So to summarize then so far we’ve had reciprocity, scarcity and now I’d like to share with you some thoughts about likability. This is something we talked about in a previous episode not so long ago it’s episode 120 it’s called likability being a great person to work with (Episode 120) I’ll put a link in the show notes. It’s definitely gonna move the needle in terms of people buying into your story or doing what you want them to do.

So how do you become likable? You listen! You listen because it shows that you’re interested. It shouldn’t be that kind of shallow listening, that pretending to listen thing – it should be listening to really understand that person. “How do they tick?” “What inspires them?” “What are they dealing with?” “What can you help them with?” and that’s the real deep listening that I get my clients to practice regularly. Because this is one element of communication that people neglect – time and time again! So what do I have to do to listen? That’s right I have to shut up! Shut up and listen. Be quiet. Just listen. No agenda. No planning. No putting yourself first. Put THEM first. They deserve your attention! What are they saying. What are they telling you? Because THAT IS THE KEY for persuasion – knowing what are their fears. What are their dreams? What do they want to achieve? If you know that – being persuasive is easy.

Society really revokes these takers, free riders. You know these people that always take and never give anything back? That is really frowned upon – not just in our (European/German) culture but in practically every culture in the world. Why is that? That’s because evolution happened based on give and take. I can do this, you can do that I can make this you can make that. That is how we have been socialized as children, we are socialized by comments like

“Darling, for your birthday party make sure you invite everybody whose party you have been to, ok?!”

That’s common etiquette, that is the way that we are raised. If we’re invited to a dinner party (in England we like to have dinner parties) then it’s important that you invite people back to your dinner party not necessarily the very next one but you have to make sure that there’s a bit of a bit of tit and tat – a bit of give and take. It’s this this give and take that has enabled us to grow.

(Let’s take a workplace example)

If you are being onboarded, somebody is investing a lot of time in helping you.  Answering your questions, showing you things – so of course you can reciprocate not by showing them anything necessarily -not yet- but you can reciprocate by offering to take the holiday day that nobody wants or,  maybe you can reciprocate by doing what they’re showing you, by making notes, by showing them that you’re listening, showing them that you’re learning. Being reliable, being dependable, offering to take over (do) things that that person can’t do  (not enough time) anything that you can do to express your gratitude is really appreciated.

So if you want to be persuasive start with the small stuff. Start with, you know, trying to encourage your hubby to sit at this table instead of this one (restaurant) Start by persuading your kids to tidy their room (hey that’s a bigger challenge LOL) but do it by putting on some music, get up in in the room with them and be persuasive! Get them to do things for you it’s a kick if you can get somebody to do something for you – and it doesn’t have to be a big thing. I’m not asking you to get somebody to buy you a car but hey – if you learn the skill – go for it Honey!

So persuasion is a great life skill and for the Coco Communication Challenge junkies listening, I know who you are! Then this week’s communication challenge is ….get out there and see what you can do this week 1. Make a list of things you want out of life make it a challenge to 2. Try and get each person that you really like to do something for you.  Make it a challenge, rise to the challenge and do share your success stories use the hashtag #expertspeakenglish and share that with me I love to see what you’re up to with these Coco’s Communication Challenges!

Finally, there is one principle that i’d like to share. If i said to you ok work with me it’s going to cost you 12 000 euros for the year you might think/say whoah  “Corinne – that is just crazy I don’t have that kind of money!” So then I might well say OK well you’ve got this thing coming up – this keynote speech, right? Well why don’t we just meet for a couple of hours you tell me about the project in detail and then we’ll walk for an hour and a half and you can practice with me (your native speaking sounding board) and I’ll give you some language feedback and then I’ll get you to think about your tone of voice and your pace and all of this kind of thing so that you’re really PERSUASIVE and then then I’ll treat you to a cocktail. Well you know, that’s a bit more appealing isn’t it? (less commitment and less cost) so you know sometimes you have to start with something bigger and then backtrack to provide some perspective. Tempt them with something a bit more easy, a bit more doable, something that’s not a complete shock to the system!

Or i might say “Well we can either “Pimp my English” programme or If you’ve got an English language keynote soon – next week and you’re going to be in front of your peers or your industry peers (expectations, pressure to perform) and you want to make a really good impression then instead of going for the (2 hours) cocktail we could go for “Perfect Your English!” (5 hours) starting with a coffee you tell me all about it, then we’ll walk and talk (practicing as we walk of course) followed by lunch and then a couple of days later we’ll meet online. During this whole time (10 days) you have contact with me via Whatsapp or Signal whichever you prefer and we’ll make sure that you go in there feeling absolutely fabulous and assured that this is absolutely perfect! It’s about confidence and excellence so that would be another option. OK so now we’re not talking about 179 euros we’re talking about 490 euros but although we’ll get an awesome performance, we’re not talking about 12 000 euros anymore.

(Clearly I try to to be so flipping awesome that they level up but if not they are fine to stop there). So I can be persuasive by telling them about the big deal and then going back to something a bit more doable and you can do that too. You can say something like

“Can you read my thesis?” and they say
“whooah I don’t think I have time for that Honey!”
so then you say
“Could you maybe just read the introduction and the conclusion?” Now that is more manageable so
” Yeah that’s doable. OK”
and then of course once they have started reading, they might think uh you might as well send me the other bit especially if it’s interesting right?

So that’s the end of the show. Have fun! Get out there. Be persuasive because this is your life and you get out of it what you put in. If you persuade people to do things for you – even little things – you get used to persuading people because it’s actually a lot of fun. You just watch the Indians when they go to a flea market they’re in their element! They have practiced this and it’s cool isn’t it if you get a bargain! So get out there try it out and if you’re lost for things to do go to a flea market,  get your kids to do something, get your partner to do something for you and have some fun with it.

It’s Corinne Wilhelm from the Experts! Speak English podcast. You will find more details all about this topic on my website just go to www.englishspeakingexperts/es128. So that’s it for today have a great one and “Be the very best

Persuasion Skills - Positive

People assume that persuasion is about encouraging people to do something that they don’t want to do. I like to use persuasion to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone so that they can be the best that they can be? Would you be interested in being more persuasive if you could persuade people to do that.

Being persuasive is a great way to help someone to break free of their comfort zone so it can be a great skill to have.

Dogs and Little Girls - experts!

No words required, a dog can be persuasive without using any words at all. Getting your attention in a way that was authentic, unconditional and real. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything.

What can you do to talk people into doing something?
Think about gestures, your smile, etc

Little girls too can be irresistibly persuasive and granted, all they might want is an icecream but it does give you a kick doesn’t it if you can persuade people to do something for you.

Tell them why

Provide an explanation or reason as to why they should help you, that makes them more inclined to say yes. It doesn’t have to be an amazing reason, but justifying your request, you are much more likely to be persuasive.

“I wondered whether I could …. because”
“I’m really running late, would you mind if I…”


Be curious. Listen carefully.

Questions and being curious, makes you quite appealing or intriguing because they are keen to learn. We are likely to be drawn to someone who is curious.

It’s a lot easier to persuade someone who you know better, you know what they hopes and fear are – what motivates them and frustrates them. Know, like, trust.

It’s easier to trust someone who understands you and what you are up against.


People tend to want to return the favour, this is something that we have all be socialised to do since an early age…

If a little girl gave you a flower and then they suggested going for an ice cream, the chances are pretty high that you will cave in, right? Giving first makes people feel slightly indebted and since evolution has this reciprocity to be thankful for, not returning the favour is frowned upon in all cultures.

In business we give people the opportunity to test us out, with a freebie in exchange for your email, in social media we share our knowledge first too.

Perhaps I’ll be able to persuade my VIP clients into writing that thought leadership piece that they have been putting off for example.


German Book Recommendation

Prinzip Kostenlos – Wissen verschenken – Aufmerksamkeit steignern – Kunden Gewinnen WILEY
Kerstin Hoffmann
Link to Amazon (not an affiliate link, just a genuine recommendation)


English Business Book Recommendation

Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert B Cialdini introduces in his book

Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion
6 Key factors affecting your ability to be persuasive

1 Reciprocity
2. Scarcity,
3. Consistency
4. Social Proof
5. Likeability
6. Authority

A great gift for a guy by the way – make sure you read it yourself though if you are buying it for your partner 🙂





Fear of Missing Out … FOMO

Only one left
Just a few days left
Closes at Midnight

Clutching something at the shop under your arm because  you don’t want someone else in your size luring behind you, so you keep tight hold of it

If you have a limited amount of spots, make sure you tell them about that, because you are more likely to take action if there is only a certain amount of that thing left, whether it is clothes

Being Likeable

Listen – really listen, it shows genuine interest and curiosity (check out this episode 120 for a deep dive on being likeable)

buying into your story

getting them to do what you want them to do

not that shallow listening, pretending to listen

What inspires them?
What are they dealing with?
How can you help them?

a massively neglected skills in communication is listening
just shut up, be quiet and listen

they deserve your attention
what are they saying, what are they telling you

Evolution has secured reciprocation in our culture

It is only through the notion of give and take that we as human beings have evolved, so this has been handed down from generation to generation and it is a taboo subject not to return the favour. Nobody is keeping count strictly but over time, someone that does not reciprocate will be branded a free rider, freeloaders, sponger or …

Onboarding – reciprocate in a different way, what would help the person that is giving you all of the knowledge that you need to have a great start in your career – take action, take notes, take the unpopular holiday dates

Coco's Communication Challenge

Make a list of the things that you want out of life
Who do you really like, what can you talk them into doing for you?


Share is with #expertsspeakingenglish

VIP €12,000
Pimp Your English – €179limited spots available til 7.7
Perfect Your English – €490

Go back to something easy, doable, something more easy and enjoyable

Coco's Communication Challenge

Bring a specific communication challenge with you – you tell me why you need to perform, and the impression that you want to make, then we walk and talk for 90 minutes to practice your conversation, then we’ll enjoy a well deserved cocktail together.

My regular hourly fee for two hours would be €300.
Offer only available until 07.07.2022.


(The price of the cocktail is included)
Why not split the cost with a fun friend or colleague?

Show up like a pro!

Pimp My English

So if I asked you whether you would prefer to have an English lesson or a cocktail, the chances are that you will go for the cocktail … right?

Tadaa — That was the inspiration behind Pimp My English and yes, you can have coffee and cake if you prefer but once you see the cocktails, I suspect you might change your mind. In any case, we sit with a great view of the Wannsee.


I have four more PIMP YOUR ENGLISH sessions between now and the last session on the 7th of the 7th or the 7th of July, when the school holidays begin here in Berlin.

So if you have something coming up at work where you want to make a professional impression in English let’s make sure you go in there feeling and sounding confident – possibly with a clever use of storytelling to make your point.

Sounds good in practice, Coco, but...

If you’re thinking, Coco, this is all well and good but can you not just give me some kick start support?

    Sure, I can do that, let’s meet for a Virtual Tea Break and based on

  • the type of goal you have in mind,
  • your schedule and
  • your learning style

    we can put an action plan to help you get that all important practice that I mentioned right at the beginning. Practice is what makes you overcome the inhibitions and start feeling more confident.

Let's practice together and I'll give you powerful, actionable tips in a supportive and motivational way.

Fancy a Virtual Tea Break?