Persuasion Skills

Persuasion Skills One touchy subject in relationships involves what to do when the other person refuses to change. If the other person in your relationship has some notable quirks, problems, challenges, or issues that notably bother you, you have several choices. You can: 1) break up with the other person, 2) argue, fight, and give them ultimatums to try to pressure them to change, or 3) just try to accept them as they are and live with the issues. But what if none of those 3 options are acceptable to you? If you value the relationship too much to break up over the issues, you don’t want all of the contention of fighting over the subject, but you also feel too bothered by the issues to just accept them, what do you do?

One possible alternative option to promote change without the arguing, fighting, or ultimatums are what are known as “persuasion skills”, also known as “influencing skills”. The idea is that, short of breaking up with another person, you can use persuasion skills to see if the other person will change enough that you feel you can live with and continue the relationship. And if not, perhaps you break up at the point.

Persuasion Skills

The idea of persuasion/influencing skills is to use positive approaches to encourage the other to choose to change, versus trying to force them to change by using negative pressure and power struggles. Several persuasion skills to try include the following:

1) Periodically ask the other person to change in a civil manner using an I-statement, then back off and allow them to make their choice. Give them praise and positive reinforcement if they do make the change and let it go if they don’t without complaining. Be patient, backing off after asking and allowing for the other to freely choose. For example, “I would like you to please____” or “I would appreciate it if you would please____”.

2) “Catch them in the act” of positive behavior and give them positive reinforcement. Look for moments when the other is choosing on their own to make the efforts and changes you are hoping for. Give them immediate, strong praise for their efforts. Be genuine and avoid sarcasm. For example, when you see the other person choosing to do the dishes (a change you were hoping for), notice it and give them immediate, strong praise for doing so.

3) Role model behaviors you would like the other person to be doing yourself. If appropriate, invite the other person to join in as well—praising them if they do, being OK if they choose not to. Basically, don’t try to get the other person to do anything that you yourself are not willing to do. For example, initiate talking in a more civil tone of voice in an argument. Do it first if you would like them to likewise. Otherwise you could be the “pot calling the kettle black”, complaining about issues you are guilty of as well.

4) After the other makes some positive efforts several times, do an extra nice or special thing/favor for them, such as making them their favorite dinner or getting their car washed for them. And as they are acting appreciative later, give them a response that includes thanking them for their great efforts lately to do _____ (the desired change).

5) Most importantly, notably lessen or even eliminate the amount of negative pressure you give them to change, which will likely just result in arguments, resentment, and resistance to lasting change. Negative pressure tactics include arguing, yelling, glaring, hands on hips, grimaces, pouting, threats, ultimatums, power struggles, passive aggression, etc.

For more information on persuasion/influencing skills, I recommend the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. You may wish to also consider downloading and listening to the persuasion skills hypnosis session pack each night, available at

Final Thoughts

The golden rule states, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Follow the golden rule when there are things you would like the other person to change. Utilizing persuasion skills will preserve good feelings in the relationship, minimize resentment, and possibly allow you to keep the relationship together. If they are worth it, this effort is worth it before breaking up. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).

Dr. G

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2018-11-05 Randy Gilchrist Healthy relationships, Communication, Conflict resolution

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to