Welcome to Persuasion

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Welcome to Persuasion

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:48 pm

Introduction
“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”
Welcome to the Grey Tower class in persuasion. This class is available to all first tiered and second tiered characters. This class is currently being taught by Mirin Ronaile, sister of the Blue Ajah, and any questions can be directed to Jenny. Each lesson is separated by one week in between. Before you sign up, I highly recommend reading through each lesson first.

To sign up, start a post titled Persuasion: Character Name with the following:
- Name
- Link to character sheet
- Rank

All lessons are to be posted in separate posts in the same thread. Do not make a new thread for each lesson. Separate characters have their own thread.

Your grade will either be a High Pass, Pass, or Fail. Your grade will be determined by your use of concepts described in class during the final exam. Please message Jenny if you would like the rubric.

Characters with a High Pass or Pass may use this class as one of the two requirements for the Master Diplomat mastery. The grade of High Pass does not offer any additional benefit, except perhaps a nod of approval from Mirin... which is pretty sweet, right? :lol:

Syllabus
- Lesson 1: Persuade the persuadable
- Lesson 2: Liking, social proof, and authority
- Lesson 3: Reciprocity and compliments
- Lesson 4: Set expectations
- Lesson 5: Persistence and flexibility
- Lesson 6: Manage emotions
- Final Exam

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Lesson 1

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:49 pm

Persuade the persuadable
Key concepts: Persuasion is not manipulation. Persuade the persuadable. Know your context, audience, and timing.

Mirin stood primly at the front of the classroom, watching her students filter in. Most were novices or Soldiers, but her class also included a few trainees from the Warder Yards, as well as Accepted and Dedicated. She plucked absently at the lace sleeve of her dress. Mirin was young, and had been raised to the Shawl only a few years prior. A few of the Accepted were older, and Mirin wondered what they thought of a younger woman teaching them.

Well, no matter. The divide between Aes Sedai and Accepted was wide. Her face was as smooth and calm as any of her sisters. And despite her youth, in this classroom, she was the expert and they were her pupils. She hoped that no one would challenge her authority.

The sound of a tolling bell drifted into the classroom, marking the hour. Mirin walked to the door and closed it. She turned to face the class.

“My name is Mirin Ronaile. You may address me as Mirin Sedai.” Her clipped, precise accent betrayed her Cairhienin origin. A pleasant smile touched her thin lips. “Welcome to your first lesson in persuasion. There will be no written assignments in this class,” – a few students cheered, – “but I expect every single one of you to actively participate in discussion of the concepts presented in class. Let us begin. Can someone please tell me the definition of persuasion?”

The class fell quiet. Mirin scanned the classroom and noticed that her students all avoided her gaze. The silence extended awkwardly. Finally, a slim Dedicated spoke up from his seat near the back of the classroom. “Is it making someone do what you want?”

“Yes, Boril, that is a part of persuasion,” said Mirin. “But there is one more important factor. Here is a question: if you threaten your target, is that persuasion?”

A murmur of voices rose from the students. A few said “yes,” but the louder consensus was, “no.”

Mirin nodded. She paced along the aisle, looking into each student’s eyes. “Those who answered ‘no’ are correct,” she said. “This is a fundamental concept in persuasion. Persuasion is not manipulation. Manipulation is coercion through misdirection or force. Persuasion is convincing people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you. There is a very fine – but important – difference.”

She asked her class to provide a few examples of persuasion versus manipulation. Slowly, her students warmed up. They were soon involved in a lively discussion.

Mirin walked around her classroom, guiding the conversation. A student brought up the idea of using manipulation if persuasion failed. Mirin shook her head. “We will not discuss manipulation in this class,” she said firmly. She continued, “But you bring up an excellent point. Not everyone is persuadable.”

She went to the front of the classroom and picked up a piece of chalk. As she wrote each word, she spoke out loud. “Audience. Context. Timing.” She turned, brushing the white dust off her hands.

“In any given situation, you must identify those people who are persuadable and focus your attention and energy on them. With each situation, the context and timing may change, which will also change your audience. Remember, you can never persuade somebody who is not interested in what you are saying. People are most interested in themselves, and they spend most of their time thinking about money, love, power, or health."

Her light grey eyes sparkled like ice. “Once you identify your target’s interest, you will be able to maintain their attention. A hungry man would be easily attracted by a promise of dinner. A vain woman would be impressed by flattery.”

She pointed at random to a student. “Describe someone you know and explain how you would catch their interest.”

Assignment: In at least 200 words, describe someone you know (in-character) and explain how you would catch his or her interest.

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Lesson 2

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:51 pm

Liking, social proof, and authority
Key concepts: Liking, social proof, and authority. Image matters. Confidence and certainty.

The bell tolled and Mirin closed the door. “Welcome to your second lesson in persuasion. Today, we will discuss personal characteristics that will make you more persuasive.”

She moved to write on the chalkboard. “Liking. Social Proof. Authority.” She turned and faced her students. “Can someone please explain what ‘liking’ means?”

Hands immediately shot up into the air. Mirin smiled, pleased. After their initial shyness last week, it seemed that her students had overcome their barriers. She pointed at a girl dressed in pure white.

“Perhaps ‘liking’ is whether someone likes you or not?” the novice guessed. “Because people are more easily persuaded by people who they like.”

“Good try, Saera, but not quite,” said Mirin. “‘Liking’ is a description of how similar you are to your target. For example, perhaps you share a nation of origin or an occupation. Or, perhaps you both have long brown hair. Yes, even tiny, superficial traits can act on your target’s subconscious and make them trust you more.

A burly Ji’alantin raised his hand. “But we can’t always change ourselves to match our target,” he said. “Are you suggesting that we pretend to be similar to whoever we are trying to persuade?”

Mirin shook her head. “That is a very good question, Egereth. However, that is not my suggestion. Instead, recall our lesson last week about selecting your audience. The concept of ‘liking’ can be used to help you pick your target. You can also attempt to seek out similarities, however small, between yourself and your target and accentuate them.”

She eyed the Ji’alantin. “Let me use you and I as an example,” she said. “Please stand.” The young man stood. He towered over Mirin’s small frame. She smiled calmly up at him.

“What do you like to do for fun, Egereth?”

He blinked. “I don’t have much free time,” he answered. “If I’m not in class, I’m training with the Warders.”

“Where are you from?”

“I’m from Kandor.”

Mirin turned to address the class. “It doesn’t seem like I have much in common with Egereth, does it? But you must do your best to seek out whatever similarities you can find.” She turned back to Egereth. “What do you think of this class so far, Egereth?”

He raised his eyebrows, and smiled in amusement. “It is far too soon to tell, Mirin Sedai. Please ask me again after our final exam. My answer will depend on my grade.”

Mirin laughed along with the class. “Perhaps I will. Thank you for your participation, Egereth. You may sit.” She turned to the class. “Did you all see his reaction when I asked him about this class? He relaxed his posture. He smiled and cracked a joke. This class is something that he and I have in common, and he knows that I can relate to whatever he has to say.”

She walked along the aisle. “Next, let us discuss social proof and authority. Can someone please define these two terms?”

A Soldier raised his hand. “Social proof is what others think of you. Authority is a title, like being a noble. Or like being an Asha’man or Aes Sedai.”

“Good answer. You are very close,” Mirin said. “You are almost correct about social proof. In persuasion, social proof means that your target’s friends and neighbors have been persuaded and they also support you or your cause. For example, say, a man’s friends, family, and neighbors are all somehow convinced that eating a certain fruit is bad for your health. Then, it would most probably be not very difficult to convince him as well.

“Authority, on the other hand, is not necessarily a title. Authority can be described as a demeanor or a way of acting. If you act confident and certain in your words and actions, then others will usually assume that you have authority and they are more likely to trust what you have to say.”

Their hour was almost over. Mirin moved to conclude the lesson. “After this lesson, you should be able to analyze yourself using the concepts of liking, social proof, and authority. Let us finish with one more example.”

She walked up to one of the students. “Could you please describe yourself and your strengths and weaknesses using the concepts described in class today?”

Assignment: In at least 200 words, describe yourself and your strengths and weaknesses in the concepts described in class today. How would you use the concepts of “liking” and “social proof”? Would someone trust your authority? Why or why not?

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Lesson 3

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:54 pm

Reciprocity and compliments
Key concepts: Reciprocity. Compliment sincerely. Tell the truth. Don’t assume. Remember that persuasion is not manipulation.

Mirin’s head throbbed painfully. She had stayed up half the night tending to the sick in the infirmary, and she always suffered tension headaches if she went without enough sleep. She attempted to act pleasant, although in reality she could barely stand.

The bell tolled, and she closed the door. “Welcome back to class. Today we will discuss reciprocity and compliments. What is reciprocity?”

Hands shot up. Mirin pointed randomly. Light, her head hurt!

A novice answered. “Is it when you do something for someone, and they want to return the favor?”

Mirin nodded. “Exactly right! Reciprocity can include gifts, actions, and –”

Suddenly, the door creaked open. A young man peeked into the classroom. He tried to slide in quietly.

“Excuse me,” snapped Mirin. Her headache made her irritable, and her voice sliced through the air sharper than a well-honed knife. The intruder froze. Mirin’s mind felt sluggish, but she managed to recall his name. “Saemus? The bell has already rung. The door was closed. Go to the Master of Training immediately and explain your lateness. I will send him a message after class to discuss your punishment.”

Saemus gaped at her like a bloody fool.

Mirin’s lip curled. “Go!”

He left. The class stared at her in silence. Mirin gritted her teeth. What had she been saying? Curse this flaming headache!

She strode across the classroom. “Reciprocity is a very powerful force,” she said calmly, as though nothing had happened. “In Cairhien, there is a group of beggars who walk around with a handful of flowers. They give flowers to unsuspecting men and women, and then ask for a donation. Even if the target tries to return the flower, the beggar would insist that the flower is a ‘gift.’ The target often feels compelled to give a few coins. They are so successful that a few lords tried to pass a decree to forbid beggars from carrying flowers. It did not pass. But this story demonstrates the power of reciprocity.”

She paused briefly, and then continued to the second part of her lecture. “Compliments are a form of reciprocity,” she said. “But this is where you must be very careful. I would like to remind you that persuasion is not manipulation. If you tell someone a false compliment, or attempt to convince your target that a falsehood is true, then you are acting in bad faith. And that is considered manipulation, not persuasion.”

She walked up to a novice. “Saera, how would you feel if someone delivered a false compliment?”

The novice sat straight up, eyes wide. “I – I would be – uh – I would be upset, Mirin Sedai,” she stammered.

Mirin wondered at Saera’s nervousness. The mood of the class had somehow shifted – her students seemed more wary, more cautious. But Mirin didn’t have the energy today to clear the atmosphere. She nodded at Saera and attempted to speak kindly.

“That is exactly how most people would feel. You must deliver your compliments sincerely. In fact, sometimes the most effective way to persuade somebody is to tell them things about themselves that nobody else is willing to say. Facing the hard truth can be one of the most piercing, meaningful events that happen in our lives. If you tell the truth without judgment, then you will often find others’ responses quite surprising.”

She walked back to the front of the classroom. Her head throbbed with every step. Perhaps she should end class early today. “Please find a partner,” she said. “For the rest of this class, you will discuss the concepts presented today. Describe a time when you either gave or received a compliment. Did you feel it was truthful? How did it make you feel?

“When you are finished, you may go. I will be walking around the class and listening to your discussions.”

Assignment: In at least 200 words, describe a time when you either gave or received a compliment. Did you feel it was truthful? How did it make you feel? Please feel free to partner with one of the NPC’s mentioned during the lessons or to make up your own NPC.

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Lesson 4

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:55 pm

Set expectations
Key concepts: Set expectations. Gaining trust. Promise low, deliver high.

This week, Mirin was in a much better mood. As the bell chimed, she closed the door. “Welcome back to class,” she said pleasantly. “Today, we will discuss how to gain the trust of your target by managing their expectations. Can anyone think of an example?”

Egereth raised his hand. Mirin gestured for the tall Ji’alantin to speak.

“When I first picked up the sword, my teacher said that it would take years of hard work to master,” he said. “Back then, I was still wet behind the ears and didn’t quite understand how hard it would be. But I’m glad that he warned me it would take time. If he hadn’t, I would have grown impatient and perhaps resented him for teaching me too slowly.”

“That is a great example,” Mirin said. “Anyone else?”

Several hands shot up. Boril, a Dedicated, spoke about his difficulty learning to seize saidin. Saera described how her mother had slowly and patiently taught her how to sew. After a few minutes of discussion, Mirin guided the conversation back to the topic of persuasion.

“Once your teachers adjusted your expectations, most of you found it easier to listen to his or her advice. And once the advice was proven correct, then you began to trust in their competency as a teacher. The same concepts work in persuasion.

“But this takes time. How can we use this concept quickly?”

The class remained quiet for a few thoughtful seconds. Then Boril raised his hand. “Perhaps you can bring up past examples?”

“That is a good strategy,” Mirin replied. “If you have approached the same situation many times, then pointing out your experience may be persuasive. Another strategy is to explain your reasoning for adjusting expectations. For example, Egereth’s teacher could have explained that it takes time and experience to develop the muscle memory and coordination to become an expert with the sword. Providing an explanation helps your target understand and adjust his or her expectations.

“A third strategy could be to break down your expectations to smaller goals that are readily achievable. For example, Saera’s mother probably did not allow her to touch cotton until she mastered working with wool. And she certainly did not allow her to work with silk until she mastered cotton. As your target achieves each goal, their confidence and trust in you will grow.

“There is one last concept to discuss today. You have probably heard the saying, ‘promise low, deliver high.’ What does this mean?”

“Perhaps it is better to overpromise than to disappoint?” suggested Saemus. His tone was uncertain, as though he felt shy about speaking up. His backside was probably still sore from his punishment for being late.

Mirin smiled warmly. She did not hold a personal grudge against him, but the Grey Tower did not tolerate tardiness. “Correct, Saemus. It is easier to persuade people who feel excited about overachieving a goal, rather than people who are disgruntled and disappointed in you.”

“Now, you should be able to understand how to manage expectations and gain trust. The best way to learn is to observe those who you admire and analyze how they gained your trust.” Mirin pointed at one of the students. “Could you please describe someone who you admire or trust? Why do you trust that person?”

Assignment: In at least 200 words, describe someone you admire and/or trust. Why do you admire or trust that person? Does he/she always meet your expectations?

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Lesson 5

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:57 pm

Persistence and flexibility
Key concepts: Persistence pays. However, if you fail, change your approach. Behavioral flexibility and clear communication is key.

The sound of the bell echoed throughout the Tower. Mirin closed the door. “Welcome back to class,” she said. “Today’s topic is persistence and flexibility.”

Saera raised her hand.

“Yes, Saera?”

“I’ve wondered about this, Mirin Sedai,” the novice said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m being a pest. What’s the difference between persistence and simply just being annoying?”

Mirin beamed at her student. “Excellent question! Does anyone have an answer?”

The class remained silent. After a few quiet seconds, Mirin spoke. “It seems that many of you have the same problem. The best course of action is to be flexible in your approach. Let me tell you a story.”

Mirin knew that most students had studied the history of Illian in their history class and had heard of King Abramlin den Colm. But she repeated his tale for the benefit of the few who hadn’t.

“Around seven hundred years ago, there lived a man in Illian who embodied the value of persistence. Abramlin den Colm grew up as the only son of a poor farmer. But even as a boy, he dreamed of sitting among the Council of Nine. At the age of fourteen, he went to the city and became a serving boy of lawyer in Illian. At night, Abramlin studied his master’s texts and taught himself the law of the land. One day, his master discovered his studies and was so impressed that he adopted the boy as a son. The young man excelled and became a famous lawyer. Eventually, he surpassed his dreams and became King of Illian.

“But his story was not without setbacks. Although Abramlin was a clever and wise man, many noblemen did not accept the son of a commoner as an equal. Others were jealous of his success. Abramlin was nominated to serve on the Council over seven times – and each time he failed.”

Mirin smiled wryly. “This is the answer to your question, Saera. Persistence pays; however, if you fail, change your approach. Trying the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is, well, insanity. Thus, you must be creative and flexible in your behavior.”

“That is what Abramlin realized. Without further action, the nobles would never be persuaded that he could lay claim to a seat in the Council. He decided to diversify himself and gain experience in other fields. He studied medicine, war, politics… and one day, his opportunity came. Along with some of the best military minds of Illian, Abramlin led the defense of Illian from a mighty Taieren attack. He was hailed as a hero. Public adoration for him was so strong that he was immediately crowned King of Illian.”

A Drin’far’ji sitting near the door spoke up. “But everything lined up for him,” she protested. “It is pure luck that the previous king had just passed away.”

“Perhaps it was luck,” Mirin said lightly. “But if you look throughout history, a great number of successful people are faced with quite intimidating, perhaps unlucky, circumstances. Are they successful despite their misfortune? Or do they simply prepare themselves to take advantage of favorable situations as they arise? Personally, I favor the latter option.”

The girl nodded thoughtfully.

“Remember that you may not always need to persuade the same people. Abramlin den Colm saw that he would never persuade the nobles simply because of his birth. So, he decided to appeal to the common man. He changed his audience. Can you identify other ways in which he changed his strategy to persuade?”

They discussed various strategies. Soon, the hour was almost over.

Mirin moved to sit at the desk in the front of the classroom. “Now, I would like each of you to think of two different strategies for persuasion. You may discuss your thoughts with each other, but please try not to imitate each other. It would be best if you frame your strategies around your own unique characteristics and skills. When you feel ready, please come to my desk and I will listen to your ideas.”

Assignment: In at least 200 words, describe two different strategies for persuasion if your target is particularly stubborn. Bonus points will be awarded for framing your strategy around your character’s unique characteristics and skills.

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Lesson 6

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:58 pm

Managing emotion
Key concepts: Managing conflict and emotions. Detach and stay calm. Use emotion purposefully.

The class quieted as the bell chimed, signaling the hour and the start of class. Mirin crossed the floor and closed the door. “Welcome to your last class in persuasion,” she said. “The next time we meet, it will be for your final exam.”

“For your final, you will be presented with two scenarios. You and I will act out each scenario, in which you will use concepts discussed in class and attempt to persuade me. Your grade will be determined by your use of concepts described in class, not about your knowledge of the scenario. If you have any further questions, please see me after class.”

She placed her hands on her hips. “We still have one more very important lesson to cover today. This topic is perhaps the most difficult to master. Today, we will talk about managing our emotions during conflict. Who here has lost their temper in an argument?”

Every single person raised a hand.

Mirin smiled. “Exactly. It is difficult to control your emotions, isn’t it? Yet to master persuasion, you must be able to use your skill even in difficult and emotionally charged situations. This is where personal preference comes into play.”

She spoke very carefully. “Some people believe that emotion should never play a part in persuasion, and that only logic and reason should be used. However, my opinion is that emotion is a very powerful force. If used correctly, it can help your cause.

“This is only my opinion. Some of you may believe differently, which is acceptable and understandable. It is a contentious subject. Whatever you believe, the goal of this lesson is to teach you how to control and use your emotions.”

Mirin paced the floor. As she walked along the row, she met the eyes of her students. “Each one of us has topics that we are strongly passionate about. The best way to avoid becoming emotional when discussing these topics is to – surprisingly – face them upfront. Each time you face your emotion, it becomes easier to handle.”

She took a deep breath. “When I first began working in the infirmary, I became very emotional with each patient’s death.” The classroom suddenly became deathly silent. Mirin continued. “But after constant exposure, I found that I could handle my emotions. Instead of hiding my feelings away like some do, I used the emotion to become more compassionate with patients and their families. Healing is not limited to weaves of the One Power. Healing of sorrow takes time and compassion.”

Her gaze swept around the room. “The first step to control your emotion is to recognize the situations that make you emotional. The second step is to understand your emotion. Is it grief? Anger? Frustration? Once you understand your emotion, you can adjust your behavior.

“This brings us to the question: how can we use our emotion?” Mirin paused and waited expectantly.

Boril spoke up. “Perhaps you can let your passion fill your voice?” he suggested.

Mirin nodded. “Good answer, Boril. In my experience, sometimes people resist persuasion from a place of emotion. For example, if a grieving mother cannot accept that her child is dying, it is nearly impossible to use reason or logic to reach her through her emotion. Instead, the best way to persuade her is to use emotional appeal. Tell her of your sympathy and sorrow for her loss. Use your own emotion to fuel your words. In her grief, she will be able to respond to your emotion. If you can touch her emotions, then you will be able to guide her. Can anyone else think of another example?”

The class discussed a few more examples of using emotion as a persuasive tool. Then, Mirin moved to conclude the class.

“It has been a pleasure getting to know each and every one of you,” she said sincerely. “I have one last exercise for you. Please find a partner. For the rest of this class, you will describe an idea or conflict that makes you emotional. With your classmate, find a way to overcome or use your emotion. I will be walking around the class and listening to your discussion.”

Assignment: In at least 200 words, describe an idea or conflict that makes you emotional. Explain how you could overcome or use your emotions. Please feel free to partner with one of the NPC’s mentioned during the lessons or to make up your own NPC.

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Final Exam

Postby Jenny » Thu Dec 03, 2015 6:11 pm

Final Exam
    • There will be two questions. Each question is a scenario that will be acted out between you and Mirin.
    • You will be handed a written prompt and have five minutes to formulate your approach. Then, you will attempt to persuade Mirin, who is acting, of your scenario.
    • Your grade will either be a High Pass, Pass, or Fail. Your grade will be determined by your use of concepts described in class. Remember that the exam is not about your knowledge of the scenario, but of your understanding of the concepts learned in class. I have a rubric. If you want it, please message Jenny.
    • The roleplay will be short (~2 posts per character per scenario)
    • Please send Jenny a personal message when you are ready for your final exam because she will send your written prompt.
    • Your next post will describe your character walking into the room, receiving the prompt, and thinking about his/her approach to the problem. After five minutes, he/she will begin attempting to persuade Mirin.
The classroom had been cleared of all but two chairs and a single desk. Mirin relaxed in one of these chairs, her legs crossed elegantly under her woolen blue dress. She wrote notes as the student sitting across from her watched nervously. After a few tense seconds, Mirin finally spoke.

"Good job," she said, neutrally. "You will receive your grade by tomorrow. You may leave now. Please send the next student in."

The student hurried out. Soon, her next pupil stepped in. Mirin handed over a folded piece of paper with the prompt. "You have five minutes to think before we begin," she said. "Starting now." She looked at the candle, its wick marked to show the time, and waited patiently for the student to speak.


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