How to Use Tie Downs in Persuasive Communication

Have you ever spoken to someone who was really drawn to what you were saying? You were talking and they couldn’t help but to keep nodding their head and saying words like “yeah”, “uh-huh”, “then what happened”. When you are getting eager reactions such as those from your listeners, doesn’t that give you some kind of signal that what you are saying is very interesting or compelling? Well what about the opposite? You're talking and your listener gives you little or nothing to work with. Perhaps you're trying to sell this person on some kind of idea or product, and all they are doing is looking you straight in the eye with no expression. Has that ever happened to you? This article will show you how to use tie downs in order to change that. Tie downs are small phrases or brief sentences you use after you say something to give your listeners opportunities to interact and agree with you. Every time you get agreement from the listener, you "tie them down" emotionally and make them easier to persuade.


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    Speak with energy and enthusiasm. Tie downs won't work if you have a negative or neutral tone. Having energy and enthusiasm when you speak makes a world of difference. Many times, it’s not what you say but how you say it. This is hard to convey through text, but let’s say you are telling someone about a party. You can say "Hey man, there’s a party this weekend, you should come..." or "Hey man! There’s this awesome party this weekend! You gotta be there!!" Practically the same words but said with more excitement can be the difference between whether that person comes to the party or not.
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    Elicit a response. Throw in a few words in or at the end of your statement that requires some sort of acknowledgment from your listener. The agreement can be in the form of a verbal response (“yes”, “of course”, “sure”), a head nod, or even attentive silence.
    • A common way to use tie downs is to seek agreement with negative contractions: "Hey man! There’s this awesome party this weekend! You gotta be there!! You love parties don’t you!?" "Wouldn't it be great to be able to walk to town whenever you want?" Practice turning statements into questions by inserting these words into the beginning, middle, or end:
      • don't (You want a king size suite, don't you? Don't you just love this window?)
      • doesn't (It makes you feel great, doesn't it? Doesn't this apartment feel spacious?)
      • isn't (Isn't this easy? The view is spectacular, isn't it?)
      • wouldn't (Wouldn't it be great to look out the window and see your kids playing there? That would be amazing, wouldn't it?)
      • can't (It just can't get any sunnier than this, can it? Can't you just imagine what summer is like here?)
    • Make a statement, followed by "...right?" Usually this is paired with a statement about what the listener wants. ("You want to get out of here as quickly as possible, right?" "You're looking for the best deal, right?")

      • For some people whose native language is not English, such as people whose first language is Spanish, the word "no" can be used in the same way: "You're looking for a 2-bedroom apartment, no?"
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    Sprinkle minor agreements throughout the conversation. While tie-downs can be used for strong, persuasive statements ("This car would look nicer with a sunroof, wouldn't it?"), they're most handy for getting agreement on minor points. The more you can get a person to agree with you, even about little things like the weather ("Oregon summers are fantastic, aren't they?), the more receptive they will be overall. Agreement implies empathy, and empathy garners trust.
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    Embed a command. Tie downs are also a good way to slip in a subconscious command. Make a list of things you want the listener to do, such as: trust me, buy today, sign now. Then figure out ways to incorporate them into a tie down. Since embedded commands work on a subconscious level, they don't even have to be used in the context you're after; they only need to sound like the command, and the subconscious mind will likely interpret it the way you want it to be heard. For example: "Time flew by today, didn't it?" Add a little extra emphasis to the command for maximum effect.


  • Many bloggers naturally use questions toward the end of their blog when asking for their readers' opinions on what they just wrote. However, if you use tie downs throughout your post, you will further engage the reader. Tie downs give the reader subconscious cues to be ‘involved’. With the feeling of involvement comes participation. With participation, you will get more action on your blog.
  • Tie downs can also be used by people who need to get others to cooperate. For instance, police officers can use them when making an arrest,[1] teachers or professors can use them with their students ("I'm dropping your grade because of your 7 absences, as written out in the syllabus" versus "You know having 7 absences negatively affects your grade, right? You read the syllabus, didn't you?") and managers can use them with their employees ("You're late for the third time this week" versus "This is the third time you're late this week, isn't it?").


  • When used in excess, or with too much exaggeration, you risk sounding condescending or pushy.
  • If people see through your tactics, they might have much less respect for you than if you had been honest in the first place. For long-term relationships, it's best to be honest.

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