Keys to Persuading Pragmatic Personalities

Here it is, your big break – you have a meeting with the Donald! That’s right, Donald Trump has agreed to give you 15 minutes to pitch your idea. How will you go about persuading him to get a yes answer?

This week we’ll take a look at how best to persuade someone who is a pragmatic or driver personality. In my mind, Donald Trump is an off-the-charts pragmatic because he’s someone who is more task-oriented as opposed to relationship-focused and he likes to control situations and others. The following describes this personality type:

Pragmatics generally want quick results; are more focused on getting things done than chatting with people; prefer taking control of situations; sometimes act before thoroughly thinking things through; are assertive; not afraid to take risks; appreciate getting to the point quickly.

Because pragmatics are not relationship-oriented it will come as no surprise to learn in my online survey they chose answers that engaged reciprocity and liking far less than did the expressive and amiable personality types, two personalities that are people-focused much more than task-oriented. Some persuasion advice when dealing with a pragmatic.

Don’t be rude but don’t spin your wheels using the liking principle because they don’t care much about being your friend. Do you think Donald cares more about being your friend or possibly closing the deal? I bet he wants to close the deal.

Don’t try to pull the reciprocity lever by doing favors with an expectation that it will be a difference maker because it probably won’t help too much. Donald will gladly accept what you offer but it’s doubtful it will be top of mind for him to think about how to repay the favor.

Uncertainty can be bothersome for pragmatics so when they’re not sure what to do they tend to respond to a couple of principles more than others.

Pragmatics generally don’t care what everyone else is doing but it can be persuasive to tell them what others just like themare doing. While they don’t respond to the principle of consensus as much as other personalities it was nonetheless one of their top choices. Donald Trump doesn’t care what the run of the mill businessperson is doing but he cares what respected peers are doing so do some research and incorporate your findings into your presentation.

Sharing hard data or using the advice of perceived experts is the most effective route with this group.  In fact, in more than half the cases where authority was a choice, pragmatics went with it! Show Donald what the numbers are or share what respected experts have to say and he’ll give that more weight than anything else.

Motivating pragmatics to action can be easy if you know which principles to look for. Generally, you want to use consistency or scarcity.

When it came to using consistency – what someone has said or done in the past – pragmatics were more motivated by this principle than any other personality style. In fact, it was their second most often chosen reason when it came to being persuaded. When Donald Trump says something do you think he believes he’s right? Of course he does, so tie your request to his previous words, actions or beliefs and your odds of success go up dramatically. I can back up that claim because I saw this to be the case on an episode of The Apprentice.

While scarcity wasn’t one of the top three choices for pragmatics, using this principle was more effective with pragmatics than any other personality type. Think about Donald Trump – he hates to lose! Talk about what pragmatics might lose by not going along with what you’re proposing and you’ll get more compliance than you would by talking about what they might gain or save.

When it comes to the pragmatics you know, they may not be as extreme as Donald Trump, but nonetheless there are certain principles that will be more effective than others. In order of effectiveness they are:

  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Consensus
  • Scarcity
  • Reciprocity
  • Liking

Next week we’ll take a look at the expressive personality, sometimes known as the influencer.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
4 replies
  1. Henry Mc
    Henry Mc says:

    That’s the biggest lot of crap I’ve read in years. A total misunderstanding of pragmatism conflating it with narcissism. Pragmatist are outcome focuses but are realists. No pragmatic demands an outcome if it can not be achieved in a sensible way and will negotiate to get the best most appropriate outcome

    • Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
      Brian Ahearn, CMCT® says:

      I don’t think I conflated pragmatics with narcissism. If you read that into it because I chose Trump as an example, I chose him because people could relate to him at the time. The responses to the various principles of influence were not based on my personal viewpoint but rather from a survey of people who see-identified as pragmatics.

  2. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I agree with you both. Mr. Henry I believe Trump was more than likely raised by narcissist just like most of us. Yet i tend to think Trump is a realist at his core. I feel he has learned to be a pragmatist over his lifetime while learning to deal with narcissist behaviors. Achieving this ability he has gained the knowledge to move strong overpowering bullies out of his way. They step aside and allow him access to pass through gates most cant cross. Anyone that’s survived narcissist behavior learns how to mimic the narcissistic traits. Trump having the upper hand by being a realist at heart. By using all three traits he’s able to conquer and divide. It’s a learned technique. His environmental settings growing up has helped him achieve the perfect words and demeanor that leave you in pause. Intimidation of the unknown. While you think your processing his next move, he’s already played. Game over. It’s deal or no deal yet you think you have an option. It was already played while you was left thinking. #growupbylearningtheunexplained #liveupbythetruthofyourknowledge #demonstratebothworlds #rulebytherulerofthemeasure


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