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Positive Affect


Techniques General persuasionKellerman and Cole's 64 Strategies > Positive Affect

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Get others to agree with you and do as you say by being really positive and friendly.

Approach them with a genuine smile and a good handshake. Be charming. Use their name. Show your charisma. Pay attention to them as if they are the only person in the world. Ask after the people and things they care about.

Avoid criticising them and their ideas. Accept all of their thoughts as valid, then  reframe these to show alternatives. You can also seed ideas with subtle suggestion so they later act as if these are their ideas. When they do, be impressed rather than pointing out that you thought of them first.

Even if they are negative, you stay positive. Respond to criticism as if they did not really mean to hurt you. Show concern for their state of discomfort. If necessary, offer to put off the conversation until they are feeling better.


Oh, hello, Susan. How lovely to see you. You're looking so well. Would you care to come for a coffee? My treat. I've a few things I'd like your opinion about, if that's OK with you.

Yes I guess I was a bit stupid yesterday. But we're here now and it's such a nice day. Let's go for a walk. I want to hear about how you are doing first.

Yes, that's right. It's a really good idea. And of course it also means that we can go out later. Well done!


By and large, being positive is likely to be more persuasive than being negative, which can put people off and lead them to rebel against your suggestions, almost as an act of defiance. It is perhaps surprising that so many people seem to prefer negative methods. This is typically due more to their negative internal state rather than their negative approach having any merit.

Being positive in the face of negativity can be really difficult, yet it can also be remarkably powerful. 'Terminal niceness' has a powerful effect in defusing aggression that seeks to tempt you into a stand-up argument.

Positive Affect is the 48th of the 64 compliance-gaining strategies described by Kellerman and Cole.

See also

Negative Affect, Open Body Language


Kellermann, K. & Cole, T. (1994). Classifying compliance gaining messages: Taxonomic disorder and strategic confusion. Communication Theory, 1, 3-60


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