on supporting the parking lot would be another coercive approach. Although threats and force can change behavior, they usually aren’t the best approach. The recipient of the threats can counterattack, leading to an escalating cycle of hostility. Threatened par- ties often dig in their heels and resist changing to save face or as a matter of principle, responding, “I’ll be damned if I’ll change just because you threaten me.” Coercion also makes the instigator look bad. A different approach to getting someone to change his or her mind involves manipulation —tricking the other party into thinking or acting in the desired way. A deceptive approach to the park-versus-parking lot problem might be to present the council with a petition against the lot containing forged signatures that inflate the petition’s size
Types of Business Presentations Chapter 13 423 or to gain public sympathy by exaggerating the adverse effects of the project on certain groups—children, the elderly, and small-business owners, for example. It is reassuring to know that besides being ethical, honesty is also the best effective policy when it comes to changing the mind of an audience. Social judgment theory (explored in detail later in this chapter) reveals that a “boomerang effect” often occurs when receivers learn that they have been the target of manipulative communication. Faced with this discovery, they will often change their attitudes in the direction opposite that advocated by a speaker. 17 In other cases, speakers are viewed as more credible when they openly admit that they are trying to persuade an audience. A final way to achieve change is persuasion—communication that convinces the other person to act voluntarily in the desired way. The citizens’ group could organize an appeal showing that the community sees keeping the park as more important than increasing the amount of available parking. It could describe the benefits of the park, bringing in local residents to testify about its importance to the community. What you’ll learn in the following pages is how to make the best possible case for your position so that others will voluntarily choose to accept it. Manipulation, persuasion, and coercion don’t fall into three distinct categories. Rather, they blend into one another, like colors of the spectrum: Coercion Persuasion Manipulation Consider the example of the city park: Speakers could remind the council that unhappy voters might remember the decision to close the park and choose other candi- dates in the next election. Approaches like this seem to have a coercive element even if they give the other party a choice of whether to comply. The boundary between persua- sion and manipulation is also fuzzy. If speakers compliment council members on their past concern for the environment and responsiveness to the voters before trying to per- suade them to cancel the parking facility, are the speakers being persuasive or deceitful?
- Fall '18
- Business, Interest, Audience theory