Young girl in a hat

From Fast CompanyDavid Hoffeld offers his recommendations on how to use positive emotions to help persuade someone.  David writes:

Here are a few easy (and hopefully non-manipulative) ways to use positive emotions to encourage people to choose the way you’d like them to.


One 2003 study confirmed smiles’ latent power: When you smile, you instinctively feel more energetic and positive. Researchers have found that smiling actually increases blood flow to the brain, which cools it and naturally produces feelings of pleasure.

Another study found that when art dealers made a funny quip that won smiles from prospective buyers, it improved their moods so much that they agreed to a higher price than did buyers who hadn’t heard the joke.


It might make you blush to think you can be so easily swayed, but the truth is that you’re more likely to say “yes” to someone if they simply ask your opinion first, according to one research study. When participants responded to questions that asked for their opinions, they felt better. These good feelings enhanced their emotional states and made them more amenable to the options they were presented with and asked to choose between.

So if you need to get someone to make a choice in your favor (a boss to sign off on that raise you’ve asked for, or a prospective client to agree to hire you), don’t just rush straight to the decision itself. Ask questions first that let them think through and share their opinions on whatever factors that choice may be based on. Yes, logic will come into play here, too, as they reason things through. But it will also help them feel more positive emotions and prepare them to choose the way you’re hoping they will.


Discussing topics that people associated with positive feelings causes them to experience those feelings firsthand. If you want to ask a friend for a favor, but you find that he’s in a bad mood, ask him about his most recent vacation–or any other topic bursting with positive emotions. The key is to let him focus on something first that improves his emotional state, which makes it more likely that he’ll be open to your request once you finally do bring it up.

Read the full story at The Emotionally Intelligent Person’s Guide to Being Persuasive