The Power of Persuasion

When Dale Carnegie published the groundbreaking self-help book How To Win Friends And Influence People in 1936, even he did not understand what an instant success it would become. In fact, the entire “self-help” genre was largely nonexistent up until that point. Of course, these series of techniques have been around for as long as men have wanted things from one another, and since the 1930s there has been no rarity of publications on the tactics of persuasion. But sitting down with Jordan Davis, the author of a series of wildly successful training CDs entitled The Power of Persuasion, I am immediately reminded of Dale Carnegie and his refreshing take on the age-old attempt at influence.

Jordan Davis has done a lot in his life, and is quick to recount the path that led him to training those not as adept at persuasion as himself. He has worked in 49 of the 50 states and traveled internationally rather extensively. He was in the Air Force Reserves, worked at the Pentagon, taught ROTC at Virginia Tech while simultaneously going to graduate school, and eventually found himself working as an event manager at a training company selling the instructional products that accompanied speaking engagements. Throughout this entire conversation, I admit, I was already looking for any persuasive tactics he might be throwing my way. But Davis has a way of slipping seamlessly from one topic to another, as if they all connect to create something intrinsically more substantial.

While working for the training company, Davis studied the contract trainers intensely and researched the social and academic side of persuasion. Gradually, he finagled his way into an opportunity to start doing speaking engagements of his own. These engagements usually consisted of one-day seminars ranging from individual help all the way up to entire companies contracting him out. “All good trainers are good speakers,” Davis said, matter-of-factly, “But not all good speakers are good trainers.” In Davis’ case both came naturally, and before he knew it the president of the company approached him to accept a publishing deal. 

The Power of Persuasion, a six-CD audio set, is the culmination of years of research and development on Davis’ part and what he describes as a mixture of theory, law and technique. Before delving into the logistics, Davis points out that there are four kinds of people: The Socializer, The Thinker, The Director and The Relater. He is quick to categorize me as a Thinker and himself a Socializer. “Anyone can be any mixture of these traits, but your personality always exhibits a dominant one,” say Davis. “The trick is figuring out which one the person you’re talking to is.”

For more information on The Power of Persuasion and Lt. Col. Jordan Davis, pick up the June/July issue of South magazine.