The Gentle Art of Persuasion


I’ve recently finished reading Chester Porter’s book entitiled The Gentle Art of Persuasion. Chester Porter is a former QC and writes about the ways and means by which people may (and may not) be persuaded. Here are a few good quotes:

“It is one thing to sound impressive, to devastate the opposition, to make a great impression. It is by no means the same thing to change people’s minds, to convince them by your arguments. Persuasion is achieved, more often than not, by quiet rather than devastating argument.”


“If you want to carry the maximum possible majority, then you will treat your opponents with manners and respect and persuade them with reason . . . [when] points are scored, opposing speakers are humiliated, sarcastic comments bring loud cheers from the audience, but who changes their minds? Who is persuaded?”


“One can probably compare a good speaker with a helmsman of a surf-boat guiding it through the waves, and never taking his eyes off the waves.”


“The basic characteristics of a good persuader are wide reading and eager acquisition of knowledge. Added to those are a knowledge of human nature and a genuine sympathy, even affection, for one’s fellow mortals.”

He writes from a legal background and the majority of his illustrations spring from a courtroom context. His style also comes across as quite old fashioned (you’d have to read it to understand what I mean) but nonetheless he has some helpful points to make. For preachers there’s a number of insightful points which could be of benefit. Please do comment if you have other helpful resources for communicators to read.


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