Persuasion is often used by every character at some point. Whether to influence an individual or a group, it often involves an understanding of etiquette, psychology, and tact or sincerity. Understanding is pivotal for a character who seeks to be capable of greatly persuading a variety of other people. Those with natural charisma might find it easier to persuade than those without, in the earlier levels, but as a character progresses in their ability to persuade, it will be found that there are many ways to persuade others - and it all depends on the character's strategy and goals in convincing other people.
Most often, persuasion involves sincerity and genuine interest of getting another person to agree or to understand a point of view. Genuine friendships, building trust, cordiality, and graceful interactions usually combine with successful uses of persuasion. Some keys to persuading others include a character's likability, trustworthiness, empathy, and willingness to share thoughtful explanations.
- etiquette - Knowing the customs and social mores of another person can earn the persuader a 'foot in the doorway' so to speak, and grant them an opportunity to be heard out.
- negotiation - Negotiations of value and exchange can be made more advantageous with the addition of more persuasive manners. One can even turn what would've been an exchange into a net positive for the persuader.
- seduction - Seduction is a skill governing the ability to corrupt and make someone want something they may not have already known they want. High skill in persuasion can aid in this endeavor by making clear what a person has to gain from the object of desire.
- intimidation - Fear-mongering and intimidation can be made all the more effective by a convincing persona.
- psychology - Knowing the mind of the other person is paramount in the art of persuasion. Without knowing someone's mental state and perspective, persuasion can be a difficult endeavor.
- rhetoric - Persuasive language can improve the efforts of a persuasive person. By concealing the less attractive aspects and by accentuating the positive aspects of whatever they are recommending, through the wonders of linguistic flourishes, one can move people to do things they might not imagine possible.
- tactics - In the case of a tense or adversarial confrontation, persuasion comes into a potential situation to diffuse what otherwise might become a fight. Tactics and Persuasion mix when it comes to the management of a situation, the key to which is knowing the opposition's own position, its merits as well as its flaws. Knowing your opponent's position can also come into play when it comes to the art of debate.
The Novice in Persuasion has realized that people can be convinced to change their minds through discussion and conversation. Beyond the average person, they have started to explore this possibility to argue, negotiate, or otherwise influence what other people think. They find it easiest to accomplish when one-on-one with individuals, but still only find success about half of the time and dependent on how well they understand the other person. Naturally charming characters will have an easier time than those characters who are brusque, intimidating, or repulsive to the ordinary person... which doesn't mean the latter can't persuade, just that they must consider specific strategies to do so - especially at novice levels, and might have a tougher time to find success.
Competent in Persuasion, it no longer matters as much if the character is naturally charming or not. The playing field has evened out, as those less charming characters have now figured out how to persuade without the reliance on allure or glamour. Meanwhile, characters with charm realize that their charisma can only extend so far when it comes to persuading others, that they must still understand those who they seek to convince and learn to sway their opinions with the actual discussion. Ordinary individuals are fairly straightforward to persuade now, groups are trickier but success can be usually achieved, as long as some sort of a rapport is made beforehand. Stubborn individuals who disagree, and/or have high discipline, are near impossible to convince without a lot of effort and understanding.
The Expert at Persuasion no longer requires spending a lot of time to build a rapport, in order to convince someone. They are usually able to persuade complete strangers, as long as they are able to recognize what that person is most interested in. Most experts of persuasion recognize the use of different tactics in order to convince different people and identify which persuasive methods might have a chance of success with people. Whether coming from logic, emotion, or otherwise, the expert has begun to practice tailoring their arguments and discussions to lead groups or individuals to agree or, at least, see things from different perspectives.
The Master at Persuasion has an entire arsenal of persuasion approaches, and are able to identify which methods will provide the greatest success with people. They no longer have to be in actual direct discourse with the person either. Persuasion through writing to the public through books or manifestos that might actually sway minds becomes a strong possibility. Many of the most successful political treatises and legal contracts have been written by those with mastery of persuasion. Even the most disciplined and stubborn minds can be rattled and reconsider their positions when in debate with a Persuasion Master. Given enough time, connection, and research, the master could potentially change the minds of entire councils, leaders, and populaces.
Credit: Llyr for the original write-up, Woe for minor additions and finishing up.