What you can learn about persuasion from playing the piano

PersuasionLast month I started playing the piano again after years. While I was playing (and practicing a lot), I realized how much you can learn from playing the piano about persuasion. How does that work?

In order to play the piano, you must practice. If you want to learn a new music piece, you must practice. Everytime you learn a little piece of the whole piece. And you practice the same piece over and over again. And then you practice another little piece. You learn all loose littoe pieces and connect the pieces that you have learned together and make a beautiful complete music piece out of it.

To persuade others of your plan, you also need thorough preparation. For example you need to learn  how to argue and you research the facts and underlying values. Without good research you will not have a good story.

But how do you make a good story, how do you ensure that everyone is touched?

Anyone can play the piano. Anyone can strike the right keys. But not everyone can hit the right tone. You can strike a key roughly, but without feeling, which makes the sound false. If you strike a key powerfully, but still with feeling, then the sound is loud and powerful, but not false. On the other hand, you can also play monotonous and boring, because there is no sense of dynamics in your play. That’s because you do not hear the sounds and there’s no interaction between your play and the sound that you produce. Piano playing is just a trick then.

A piano becomes enchanting when you play with feeling and it becomes your story. If I play piano and I think about how it should be, then it goes wrong. But if I get sucked into it and I trust that I know my music piece from within, when I listen to tones and tune into them, then the energy flows. And then I hit the right tones.

It is the same with persuasion. It doesn’t work pushing and controlling your story. Just stating arguments, facts and values doesn’t touch people. You need to find the right tone. You get that tone by feeling and dynamics. You get feeling and dynamics by listening to others and responding to their tones, but without losing your own story. And you stay in your own story through this inner knowing and believing, without being stubborn and radical.

Paradoxically? Yes, but precisely these paradoxes give your story dynamics, feeling and authenticity, which is what touches people.

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