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The Flower Theory of Persuasion


Explanations > Motivation > The Flower Theory of Persuasion

Understand the plant | Prepare the ground | Sow the seed | Water the plant | Remove any weeds | Harvest the crop | So what?


The 'Flower Theory of Persuasion' is a simple framework for persuasion that can help you convince others of your argument. This process may run across a single conversation or may take months to play out. In any case, if it makes sense to you and is helpful, then it can only be a good thing.

Understand the plant


Different plants need different conditions. Some are hardy and will grow in any conditions. Others may be killed by frost, over-watering or a host of other conditions. If you do not understand the plant you are trying to grow, you may easily and accidentally kill it.


The first step when seeking to persuade other people is to learn as much you can about them. Understand what drives them, the pressures on them and the effect of this. Understand their personality and preferences. Understand how they may negotiate and what trades could be possible. As much as you can know about them can only help you.

Prepare the ground


For a plant to grow well, it needs the soil and conditions that suit it. A good gardener hence digs, fertilises and otherwise takes care to prepare the ground in which the seed will be sown.


If you are going to negotiate, find the place and room, think about the seating, layout, and so on. If you are selling, ensure you have all the literature, demonstration models and so on that you might need. Also prepare the person who you are persuading. Ensure they are interested in negotiating before you negotiate. Get them in the mood to buy before you sell. It is no coincidence that much persuasion happens over the dinner table.

Sow the seed


Sowing the seed is not just a matter of plonking it on the ground. It may need to be at a certain depth. It may need starting off indoors before planting out. It may need to be planted at a certain time of the year.


Do not jump into your persuasive script when they are not ready to be persuaded. Choose your moment. Tell them new things in 'learnable moments' when they are open to ideas. Think very hard beforehand about those key words and phrases that will persuade. They should be short, memorable and make perfect sense to the other person at the moment that you utter them.

Water the plant


Sowing seeds is seldom enough if you want a good crop. And the most fundamental part of growing things is to ensure that the plant has enough water. In wetter climates, this may not be much of a problem, yet even in such places there can be dry periods. Particularly when the plant is young and has not yet developed deep roots, it will need regular watering.


Likewise, when you have sown ideas in people, you may well need to develop this idea, helping them to understand further and move towards a fuller commitment. Sales people may visit customers regularly, offering further evidence of how amazing their products are. Parents show their children the benefits of living well and the seedier side of life that happens when people fall off the rails.

Remove any weeds


Any fertile ground is fair game for any number of plants that all want to grow and thrive. The plants you want may get crowded by weeds who want to take away the life-giving water and light that your plant needs. You hence need to regularly weed the garden, removing plants that you do not want so your plants can grow.


Your ideas may have serious competition. The other person will have other tensions and concerns that are occupying their thoughts and their life. They may have thoughts grow that persuade them against your ideas. You may hence need to spend time weeding out these issues, for example by helping the person solve problems or showing them that other things are not worth their time. Sales people do this when they cast competitor products as inferior.

Harvest the crop


Eventually, if you have done all the above well, you will reap the fruits of your efforts as you bring home the harvest.


Likewise, eventually you will get what you want from them, whether it is agreement, a sale or whatever.

So what?

The Flower Theory of Persuasion is a simple framework. Use it as a 'thought guide' or even in a more structured way. Remember the subtle tricks of it too, like weeding the garden -- it is so easy for things to cause problems when you are looking in another direction!

See also


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