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Techniques General persuasion > More methods > In-Your-Face

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



This form of communication seeks to persuade by getting 'into the face' of the other person, grabbing their full attention.

Elements of in-your-face persuasion may include:

  • Passionate talk that shows the speaker's absolute conviction.
  • Sudden movements and gestures that act as subtle threats.
  • Moving or leaning towards the other person as emphasis.
  • Pointing at the other person and generally thrusting the hand forward.
  • An animated face that exaggerates emotions.
  • Wide open eyes, theatrically raised eyebrows, etc.
  • Non-stop talk, using assertions and rhetorical questions without pause for challenge or question.
  • Shows of aggression, perhaps displaced onto the subject matter but triggering fear in the listener.
  • Sneering at those who disagree, pulling faces and casting them as foolish, bad, etc.
  • Increasing above actions if the person turns away, perhaps with direct instruction to stay and listen.


There are many video rants on the web where the speaker regularly leans forward so their face fills the screen, effectively seeming to be holding their head inches from you. At the same time they are almost shouting, with animated faces and constant talk.

Preachers use this principle as they swing over the front of the pulpit or storming up and down the stage, passionately delivering their sermons.

Radical politicians and activists also act like this as they try to force their arguments on any available listeners.


This method may be genuine and simply used by a person who is so passionate they do not realize the discomfort they cause in others when they get onto their soapboxes and rant at whoever is available. It may also be used as a deliberate method of holding the polite or the timid in place and perhaps even persuading them. This approach can be seen in those who take a position of authority but who fear that they will not be taken seriously.

Challenging the ranter can have two effects. First, it may well lead them to get worse as they try to push the challenger back into the position of passive listener. The other effect is to stop them in their tracks as they feel they have been exposed. This can lead to them quickly turning away from their discomfort. Engaging them in open conversation may work, but it may also be a bridge too far.

If you want to really challenge, speak when you want to speak, interjecting 'let me speak' and keep talking at the same time as them. When they pause, ask if they can listen to you. Only when they have listened all the way through (use 'let me finish' to keep them listening) do you listen again. Then interrupt again and so on. Do listen but also insist that they listen to you. Be courageous as needed.

See also

Aggressive Body Language, Assertion


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