Is Personal Warmth Important In The Art Of Persuasion?

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Is Personal Warmth Important In The Art Of Persuasion?

November 9, 2008 Persuasion 3

Persuasion isn’t just about what you say and do, or how you say and do it.  It’s also about how you are. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll explore the inside of persuasive communication skill.  So tell me, do you think that personal warmth is an important part of the art of persuasion?  If your answer is yes, you’re getting warmer!   People who know how to connect with people, engage and persuade people tend to be warmer than colder, but not too hot to handle or so cold as to freeze others out.  Be warm, and you’ll be more persuasive.

First, let’s define terms.  Cold means remote and distant, and hot means intense and close.  So you can take the temperature of people you hardly know with some attention and only a little effort.  You already do this, by the way.  Ever notice how some people are warm, some seem a little too hot, some are cool, some are cold, and some are just right?   The ones who are just right tend to be as warm or a little warmer than you.  Matching your temperature to theirs creates the resonance that allows for connection and persuasion.  And when people are cold, be careful to stay cool, or they’ll have to go to greater extremes to keep their distance.  Less heat with a cool person may be called for, but some personal warmth is essential to make a connection.   Get it just right, and you get a Click!

It’s always cool to be at least a little warmer than the people around you.  Too cool in general and people think you’re stand offish, even arrogant.  That may work when you’re wanting to be admired from afar, but up close and personal, you’ll be frozen out.  

How do we show warmth?   From the moment you appear on their radar, you can let people find warmth in the way you move.  Whether in a formal setting or a casual one, have a relaxed and open posture.  Turn slightly to face people, but not straight on at first.  Give them a chance to get comfortable with you, and then complete the turn.  Warmth comes across when your body seems undefended.  

A warm person surveys the room before entering in all the way. You want to welcome people in to your space rather than invade theirs.  When your eyes land on someone, let your attention linger long enough to let individuals actually notice you noticing them, and give them a chance to respond when you smile.  A small smile with a stranger creates a bit of warmth, whereas an overpowering smile can intimidate those who feel distant already.  

 When you talk to people,  get close but not too close, close enough that if they talk quietly you can hear it, and if they talk loudly it doesn’t overwhelm you.  Have a sense of their personal space, and move just to the edge of it, but never beyond.  And when people start to talk with you, take note of how much space they take up, and respond accordingly. 

No matter how near or far you are, let people see warmth in your eyes.  When a person with clickability is talking with someone, their eyes aren’t scouting around for a better opportunity.  Their eyes are focused.  Instead of looking around, put the people you meet and talk with at the center of your attention.  Focus your eyes to make any person you talk with feel like the only person in your world in that moment.   

When I was a kid growing up in Cincinnati, there was a TV show aimed at my age group called the Our Gang Comedy Clubhouse.  The host was ‘Uncle Al,’ and his show was sponsored by a company called Stegner’s.  Uncle Al would start talking about Stegner’s Chile Con Carne and my mouth would start watering.  I had no idea what it was, but I knew I wanted it.  It wasn’t the words, it was the way he said the words that influenced me so.  He sounded hungry for it, and that made it sound delicious.  It was like he heated the words in his mouth before letting them out into the world. 

There is power in warm words.  They draw attention and create excitement.   Let people hear warmth in your voice, in the friendly and helpful tone of what you say, and the assurance in the way you say it that says you’ve got them covered, you are interested in them, and that you think they are interesting to you and worth knowing.   And when you talk, even when people don’t know what you’re talking about, the way you talk about it indicates that you think it is something worth hearing, worth knowing, worth understanding.  The result is that they will draw nearer to hear more.    

My next post will cover another important aspect of persuasive power.   Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your comments about the value and impact of personal warmth.  

Be well,





3 Responses

  1. […] Original (Dr. Rick Kirschner) […]

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  2. J.D. Meier says:

    Good lens on an interesting point!

    Which matters more … the motions or the mindset? You can be sad because you cry, but can you be warm because your body is undefended?

    If you think and feel warm, will you naturally do the right thing? Can you fake it until you make it? (It seems to me that would be incongruent)

    If we presuppose that the mindset drives the thinking drives the feeling drives the doing, how would you put yourself in the right mindset? If you’re not warm in the scenario, when would you force yourself to be warm versus when is your thermometer telling you something is wrong?

    “…overpowering smile can intimidate” reminded me of Grimmace.

    • Thanks J.D.

      I think you know by now that for me, persuasion (and communication effectiveness in general) is an inside out game. I don’t think you completely separate the inner and outer game of it. You have to have the ability to adjust your temperature in life to navigate through the hot and cold places. Finding that inner thermostat is key.

      I like your idea that if you feel forced, maybe something is amiss…that’s using your inner feedback system wisely, I think. And yes, an overpowering smile bears much resemblance to a grimace!

      Best wishes

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