Ever try to persuade someone to do something and wonder why you failed? What stands between you and successful persuasion is the audience’s resistance, so it helps to know tactics to overcome opposition. There are different reasons why people are resistant.

Sometimes a person (or people) will have an immediate negative reaction that is unrelated to the proposal itself. Eric Knowles, a social psychologist, says that if your persuasive attempt is obvious, if you are pushy, or if the person feels like you are limiting her options and thus reducing her freedom of choice, she is likely to immediately be disagreeable and stubborn. To avoid this, keep two things in mind:

• Limit the size of your initial request. If you ask for less, the person is less likely to perceive it as an inconvenience and will be more inclined to say yes.

• By asking for a smaller favor first, you will find it easier to ask for a bigger favor next time for two reasons:
A) It is easier to get people to agree to incremental changes.
B) People want to be consistent with past behavior, so if a person agreed to a request in the past, he is more likely to agree a second time, even if the request is larger.

Too often, persuasive attempts fail because the writer or speaker is too self-centered and thinks only about what he considers important and about what he wants the audience to accept. But to be persuasive, he should consider asking for less, at least initially.