I bought 'Grapho-persuasion' based on an excerpt in the Birmingham Post and Mail, for which Victor Semo occasionally writes, and was struck by its non serious approach to persuasion in an introductory style. Claims by Semo of having read all there is on the subject with a PhD in the art of political persuasion (lobbying) lends a playful authority.
The work is termed a 'referenceurs', i.e. 'repackaging' of what has been said already in a handy accessible style by major contributors from academia and seasoned professionals. With this in mind, if you are already familiar with Robert Cialdini's laws of persuasion and have a passing interest in the techniques of marketing you'll have the heads-up on a major chunk of this book. Also if you are cognissant with the colouring of choice methods employed by magicians and cold reading merchants in lowering resistance, then this 'vade mecum' - as a prayer to Peitho (the goddess of the arts of persuasion) - could be the equivalent of a Chinese takeaway, though I doubt you would be left wanting for more!
The structure of the book is built on a pyramid starting with a set of cornerstones and rules, and then building upon these with laws and techniques. Finally the pinicle is the 'secret recipe' - which is probably not so secret as the standard technique employed by skilled keynote presenters - using the tried and tested sequence of gaining audience attention, unease, solution and then win-win agreement. This is the fairly predictable order of the art of persuasion used by PUAs and Hollywood screen writers to gain maximum addiction... after all we humans love to gamble on a drama!
The persuasive effect is established around the science of rapport in gaining influence over others: making people feel important (creating trust and comfort), having a useful attitude (knowing what you want), creating consultative conversation (active listening, empathy and gathering feedback) and creating dependency through symbolic gifts of exchange and information, i.e. favours. Having positive energy (knowing what you want) also helps, as well as great presentational skills, habitual synchrony and the passion to market your gifts with a USP and building credible selective relationships.
Near the end of the book there are a number of intriguing and notable self-analytical analyses that are worthy of some mention. In one instance the author attempts to deconstruct a text akin to a Roland Barthes semiotics class. In referring to Naomi Campbell's witness testament for the prosecution at the Charles Taylor blood diamonds trial and her use of the word 'dirty' to describe the diamonds, Semo explains how he afterwards subconsciously misreads a newspaper headline '24-carat Bloody Liar' as '24-carat Dirty Liar'. This trick of perception he argues is in fact an orchestrated persuasive technique to draw attention to Charles Taylor's complicity in the same way that hot words, anchoring and reframing are NLP devices employed in media advertising.
As much as I can appreciate media techniques of influence this case does highlight the danger of succumbing to self-reflexive and somewhat conspiratorial analysis even bordering on the solipsist. For those not prepared to join the dots could it not be equally likely that the labelling of the diamonds as 'dirty' was an entirely accurate description for the uncut stones rather than any connotational restructuring of language in order to hypnotise the judge and jury?
A further pushing of the creditability envelope is contained in the book's strap line (though with slight self-parody) of 'Europe's most influential book', which of course is nothing less than you would expect from a marketing man; there is the feint sniff of the snake-oil about 'Grapho-persuasion' being also significantly based on scant coverage of the pseudo science of graphology.
As a basic beginners guide to the art of persuasion there is a lot to merit 'Grapho-persuasion' but overall the lasting impression is one of a parlour game starting point that might strike some as light weight, but good fun all the same!