Chapter 4

Practicing Persuasion

“To make converts is the natural ambition of everyone.” —Goethe

Getting someone to see ideas in data is good. Getting them to change their thinking because of what they see is special. To move people, to bust their assumptions, to gain allies, or just to get funding, you need to persuade—not just inform—them. But persuasion isn’t easy. It requires a balance of aggressiveness and restraint. You need to actively shift people’s eyes and minds to where you want them to go, but you also need to refrain from rigging your charts to make that happen. The line between persuasion and unfair manipulation is blurry, and you shouldn’t cross it.

At the same time, to suggest that you should avoid persuasion altogether is wrong. ...

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