The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning
Everyday Empowerment and Likeability
by Gavin F. Hurley (Lasell College)
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The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning: Everyday Empowerment and Likeability provides an inclusive and accessible guide to the strategies of persuasive reasoning, which I argue is the lynchpin to all effective communication, including professional communication. The “playbook” explains numerous eye opening communicative maneuvers that readers of all levels and professions can apply to their lives, empowering their messaging and increasing their social magnetism. The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning uniquely resists the typical approach to argumentation and persuasion that is often technical (e.g. formal logic handbooks), complex (e.g. handbooks on legal argumentation principles), formally business centered (e.g. Harvard Business Review essays) or science oriented (e.g Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice). In sum, The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning is a down-to-Earth guidebook about effective rhetorical strategizing. It is framed around everyday application, using everyday examples, and embedded in everyday language.
Since effective communication is highly sought after trait by international employers, clients, and customers, The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning is a useful book for professionals. Moreover, academics and students—as public intellectuals—can benefit from learning how to deliver more abstract material in an effective manner: verbally and written. Therefore, my goal is to help professionals and students become better and more likeable communicators. In doing so, the books will help them succeed professionally, socially, and cerebrally. Strategies of cooperative argumentation can facilitate this power—and guide individuals toward more empowered lives.
I establish the purpose of the book, explain the unique nature of the book, and excite readers about how the book will give them a social and professional advantage.
Introduction – Everyday Argument: Dispelling the Stigma
The introduction offers a concise history of the stigma surrounding “argumentation,” and proposes a solution: the subtle art of persuasive reasoning, an art that is not about “winning squabbles” as much as it is about orchestrating big picture success upon a platform of likeability and social magnetism. In this introduction I assert that everyday persuasive reasoning can employ such an advantageous platform.
Chapter One - Invention: The Fundamentals of Persuasive Reasoning
After a short history of “invention,” Chapter One features the “raw materials” that build persuasive reasoning. Chapter One establishes that every utterance is a truth claim with underlying reasoning and evidence and explores the varying depths of persuasive argumentation—and how to adjust the claims and reasons to maximize clarity and influence. This chapter includes subsections such as “How much of my reasoning do I reveal?” “Not wasting your audience’s time,” “The Ethics of Invention,” and “Say No to Excuses.” This chapter establishes a foundation upon which the following chapters build.
Chapter Two - Arrangement: Positioning your Influence
After explaining the “raw materials” of persuasive reasoning in Chapter One, Chapter Two discusses the strategic placement of the reasons and evidence within conversation and social interactions. Chapter Two more fully discusses the importance and potential methods of “analyzing your audience.” Through a short history and several historical examples, I explain how the placement of claims, reasons, and evidence can more profoundly impact audiences.
Chapter Three - Style: Charming your Audience
Chapter Three discusses the persuasive “clothing” that can “dress up” claims and reasoning. After offering a lively history of rhetorical style, this chapter features more micro-level language strategies (word choice, second-person point of view, figurative language, technical language, clichés, slang, etc.) that can be applied to reasoning as a means to maximize likeability and influence upon audiences.
Chapter Four - Memory: Persuasion as a Second Skin
Chapter Four discusses the active role that memory and memorizing plays in persuasive reasoning and everyday argumentation. Subsections include “Memorizing Schemes of Argumentation,” “Remembering Your Audience,” “Flexing Forethought,” and “Learning from Everyday Examples.” Additionally, I discuss the role of imagination when preparing for important social interactions—and the importance of memorizing potential hypothetical situations.
Chapter Five - Delivery: Commanding Attention
Chapter Five features the physical strategies to use when delivering everyday claims and reasons. Subsections include “Inflection,” “Hand Movements,” “Micro-gestures,” and “The Rhetoric of Silence.” I will refer to experts in the field of public speaking and charisma studies such as Timothy Koegel (The Exceptional Presenter) and Olivia Fox Carbone (The Charisma Myth); however, I will calibrate their insights toward everyday reasoning. I close the chapter by discussing how delivery—an element commonly associated with verbal communication—applies to written communication as well.
Chapter Six - Empowerment: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
As a companion piece to the introduction, the final chapter celebrates the strategies acquired from the book. Using the work of Robert Greene as a touchstone (The Art of Seduction and The 48 Laws of Power), I discuss how everyday argument can lead one to achieve power—professionally, academically, and socially. I model several hypothetical situations (one professional, one academic, and one social) coalescing the five dimensions of the book. Therefore, I show the readers how everyday argument unites into a powerful set of equipment, empowering them in any given situation.
Appendix – Resources
Gavin F. Hurley is currently an Assistant Professor of Writing at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts where he teaches courses in Ethical Reasoning as well as Persuasive Writing. The student population at Lasell College seeks practical skill building and professional acumen; therefore, Dr. Hurley has experience instructing this type of professionally hungry audience. The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning is formulated from his lecture and instruction notes from these courses.
Dr. Hurley has taught persuasive writing and argumentation for eight years at several types of higher education institutions: including both public universities and private colleges. Specifically, he has taught first-year communication courses, intermediate communication courses, and advanced communication courses.
Gavin F. Hurley earned his Ph.D. in Writing and Rhetoric from the University of Rhode Island where he specialized in persuasive writing and reasoning. His doctoral dissertation examined The New Rhetoric, a 20th century practical reasoning guide written by Chiam Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca. The Playbook of Persuasive Reasoning is, in some ways, inspired by The New Rhetoric and his dissertation work. Regarding his foundational education: he has a B.A. in philosophy from Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, PA) and a M.A. in Writing Arts from Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ).
Finally, Dr. Hurley has published numerous articles on rhetoric, persuasion, and argumentation in scholarly collections and peer reviewed journals—and will continue to do so. He has presented numerous public talks at national venues on argument and persuasion as well.