When we use communication to persuade, our chances of success are better if we add a little art—art of conversation, art of generating inference, and art of engagement. The lizard responds to art.

Art of Conversation

Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, authors of the linguistics classic Relevance: Communication and Cognition, tell us that every time we send a message, even conversationally, we make a promise to the receiver.1 We promise that he or she will want to receive the message we are sending. Any time we attempt to communicate with an audience of one or many, we make the tacit guarantee that they will find the message worthy of attention. The lizard automatically understands that promise and is disappointed if the promise ...

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