Persuade vs Convince

Terry Fallis, he of ThornleyFallis & a podcaster and author of some repute, has a regular segment on the InsidePR podcast called Inside Proper English. There’s substance beyond the clever title as Terry takes a weekly look at words & phrases that are commonly misused with the goal of making us better communicators.

Insider Proper English from this week looks at the difference between convince & persuade. Terry points out that, contrary to common belief & use, there is a subtle and important distinction between the two.

We are convinced by evidence or arguments made to the intellect

We are persuaded by appeals made to the will, moral sense or emotions.

I’d also add a further subtle distinction that we are convinced to think something; persuaded to think & do something.

The implication of this for marketing is significant. I couldn’t care less if you were convinced that my widget is better than my competitors widgets if I haven’t also persuaded you to do something about it – buy it, support it, donate to it, tell your friends about it.

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36 responses to “Persuade vs Convince

  1. Thanks for the plug Jonathan. I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading it…

  2. Great site, I will be back. Well done

  3. Came here via Seth. Love what you have written here.

  4. Thanks for pointing this out and helping me discover Inside PR

  5. Very similar to the difference between a decision and a choice. A decision isn’t active but a choice is. Good post.

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  7. Pingback: Convencer ou Persuadir? de Seth Godin « pilulasderh

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  9. These are appeals to 2 different parts of the brain. The neocortex – the logic center – can approve something, but it will not facilitate a desire for that thing.

    However, the lower brain – the emotional center – will often override the logic center by finding a way to rationalize a choice if it has been properly persuaded.

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  11. would appear to be a small nuance but is really a big difference. thank you. cool blog. I will be back. (found you via Seth)

  12. The difference between convince and persuade is a chasm; t’ain’t nuthin small ‘n suttle ’bout it. (Think guilty, not.) Furthering the story… clarity is persuasion.

  13. “I couldn’t care less if you were convinced that my widget is better than my competitors widgets …” “competitor’s widgets” or “competitors’ widgets”…
    Otherwise good rumination on the importance of precise language.

  14. That’s is the most concise and clear distinction on entire web. Thanks.

  15. I wonder about the disparity between persuade and proselytize as marketers build tribes and approach the overlap between business and religion.

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  17. Convince, from the Latin vinco to conquer; persuade, from a Latin word suadere to make someone feel pleasant or easy. You could say the hard versus the soft sell.
    But both words still imply you get your way. They don’t suggest a dialogue in which something new and possibly even more interesting might emerge between you.

  18. Pingback: Persuading vs Convincing | Neil Murton

  19. I showed your comments to my own copyeditor and he replied, “Absolutely, James! The man is right. Clearly he needs a better copyeditor!” Having had problems with copyeditors in the past, I empathise! I finally managed to get hold of an excellent one and now insist my publishers use him for all of my books.

  20. This post is a good reminder to communicate and appeal to the whole person. Of course, this requires an investment in understanding people on a deeper level. It’s worth the effort, though.

  21. I certainly agree with you that words (should) have precise meanings and care should be taken to do so. This I have tried to do as evident in .

  22. There’s a real distinction between “persuade” and “convince” for marketers. Marketers must actually be able to do both: Persuade their target market to buy, donate, nominate, endorse, Like, etc. And Convince their prospective clients through facts, stats, and historical success data, that they can accomplish the persuasion if hired.

    Steve Kavetsky
    AgooBiz // The Social Commerce Network
    “WE work greater than me”

  23. Pingback: Seth Godin: Persuade vs. convince {by Brisbane Vegan Blogger, Cameron Blewett of} —

  24. Pingback: The Difference Between Persuading and Convincing

  25. Excellent points! People tend to turn and run when they sense they’re being “convinced.”

  26. Six Persuasive, or Convincing, Points.

    1. We feel before we think. Impulse is more powerful than reason. Not all-powerful all the time, but an odds-on favorite to do that thing you might not do with more information and deliberation. Or, in fact, to do that thing which, had you hesitated, would have caused you great harm. To be Persuaded is a feeling, to let go of natural defenses, forestall or deny reason, and liberate a feeling — of trust, safety, desire, need, thirst, hunger, fear.

    2. This impulsive feeling is based on your sense of a thing and everything — your feeling, which can indeed be supported by a previous feeling that proved out or a due-diligent Conviction (having had time to analyze and be…Convinced).

    3. Life, moment to moment, requires an authorizing respect for being persuaded, a feeling. You take a step forward because you feel the floor or earth under you won’t open up and devour you, or the ceiling collapse on top of you. Even though danger is a possibility, you have a feeling that this particular floor or ceiling at this particular time is a good bet for moving forward with a trust that you will not be hurt or killed.

    4. You likely have no hard facts to support this feeling, but you move forward. Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t. In less familiar daily, moment to moment examples, like buying a car or house or accepting, or rejecting, a ride on a dark, lonely road on which you’ve run out of gas (with no cell phone). So, it stands to, ah, reason, the most powerful stuff of all to enter a feeling of Persuasion after already being Convinced. But the irony here is that even your conviction of a thing may Not have Persuaded you to “buy” or “not buy.”

    5. Even if you had a working cell phone on that dark road and had just gotten a call from a cop to say that this exact car with this exact driver was an unmarked police car with a cop….you still wouldn’t get in if you weren’t Persuaded that it was safe, based on Your Feeling. You still needed to be persuaded by a feeling in the Moment of Truth, which is less about what’s true factually, than what is true Persuasively, by a trusted feeling felt by you.

    6. So, to be Convinced is validation of that feeling, often after you’ve acted. Or just before you’ve acted, as in the “closing” argument of a case or a sale, in which you’re reminded of the data, facts, logic, science and all those reasoned-out reasons. To be Convinced is to have in one’s hand, bright, clear and dry, the piece of paper stamped with the left brain’s approval of the thing you most often already decided to act on…or at least have already taken several significant steps forward to that decision or act.

    Persuaded? Or Convinced?

  27. Pingback: Persuading – How to do more than just convincing

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  32. thanks it really helped

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