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Professional Skills Course

PSC - Anatomy of persuasive conversations


This suite of sessions offers practical tools and techniques for both decision-making and persuasion. It embraces both established and new ideas from the science on decision-making – including behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, and evolutionary biology – to help you master the art of persuading others to act or think as we prefer.



As a result of attending the course, you will:

  • know how to improve relationships in order to improve your ability to persuade
  • understand the inherent cognition of the decision maker
  • help decision maker navigate the process of deciding



Stream 1 – Relationship

The success of a persuasive conversation depends significantly on the quality of the relationship between those involved. The quality of the message and the level of trust in the messenger are intertwined, so that building trust and confidence are critical to being effective. This stream looks at how to improve the relationship and lower resistance to being persuaded. Read more.

Stream 2 – Cognition

Your arguments will be more persuasive if you understand how a decision maker thinks. So this stream looks at the unspoken and invisible processes of the mind which influence them. By understanding their system of thinking and the (perhaps unexpected) strengths and vulnerabilities of their cognition, you can significantly improve your ability to influence them. Read more.

Stream 3 - Process

Some decision makers (like Judges) tend to follow a pre-determined process. Others are free to determine what factors to consider. This stream looks at the visible part of the decision-making process and the external pressures on it.  How do the law, regulation, corporate policy etc influence the process? How does the way in which a decision is delivered influence the decision itself? Read more.


Face to face

Workshops with law firm scenarios (1 ½ hours - 6 hours options available).


Short online modules with demonstrations, interactive exercises and theory.


Combined approach with e-learning and face to face sessions.


Contact us to discuss your requirements.


Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Courses available for all professional and administrative staff


James Welsh has been at the forefront of communication skills training for two decades. He was awarded a Professorial Seat in 2018 for his impact in Legal Education – particularly in the field of communication. He has delivered training on persuasive communication (written and oral) nationally and internationally, and in both the legal and in the commercial sectors. He originally trained and practised as a barrister, seeking to influence and persuade in high-stakes environments.

To discuss how we can help call Kath Kinch on 0114 273 8300 or email Kath@KinchRobinson.com


Stream 1 - Relationship

  1. Bandwidth (including ‘scarcity’ and voluntariness)

    This session will help you to adapt your messages to someone else’s cognitive capacity. How much capacity (or ‘bandwidth’) do they have for this topic? Will the conversation feel voluntary, or like an obligation? You will learn how to:
    1. recognise the other person’s capacity for engaging with your message;
    2. optimise your messaging to the available capacity of the other person; and
    3. avoid lowering their available bandwidth.
  2. Conventions within communication

    Conversations often fall into set patterns which are familiar and cognitively easy. These “conventions” are often based on assumptions about relationships. They can make you feel more comfortable and secure, but they can also stifle originality and persuasive impact. This session looks at techniques for adopting different approaches to conventions of language, place, dress and so on, and considers the risks and benefits involved.
  3. In or Out Group

    The biggest single influence on whether someone can be persuaded is the person doing the persuading. People offer more resistance to those they see as “different” than to those they see as part of their “in group”. This session focuses on how to lower resistance to persuasion. How can you move into the “in group”? How can you change someone’s perception of whether you are “in” or “out”?
  4. Trust and Reciprocity

    Trust and kindness can be immensely significant in persuasive conversations. Increasing trust and developing a mutual desire to reciprocate kindness help to reduce resistance to persuasion. This session offers techniques for building trust and reviews the power of reciprocity as a lever for persuasion.
Face dialogue

Stream 2 - Cognition

  1. Coherence

    We look for coherence in any set of data presented to us. We struggle to accept randomness. These tendencies can affect the quality of decision making. Understanding them will help you to adapt your approach when seeking to persuade.
  2. Confirmation bias

    This session explores the common vulnerability to looking for evidence that confirms our pre-existing views. How can you use (or attack) confirmation bias to improve persuasion?
  3. Anchoring

    What we say and what we think is affected by ideas which, consciously or not, are in the forefront of our minds – we are “anchored”. How can this “mental short cut” help or hinder your work in influencing others?
  4. Availability

    We pay more attention to data that corresponds to our own experience – especially when that experience is vivid and easily recalled. How can you harness this tendency? What should you do if you think your decision-maker may have relevant experience? And what if they don’t?
  5. Loss aversion and sunk cost fallacy

    We react very differently to the prospect either loss or gain. So you can change the way a decisionmaker will react simply by framing the same information in terms of gains or losses. We can also be influenced by funds (or effort) already committed by the time a decision is required. How can we use this tendency in the persuasive process?

Stream 3 - The Process

    1. Navigating rule-based decision-making

      When professional decisions have to follow specific criteria, persuasion should be highly structured. This session looks at the fundamental skills for guiding a decision-maker towards a decision that is not only compliant with the criteria, but resistant to appeal, robust, and even likely to be accepted by all those affected by it.
    2. Using intuition, instinct and discretion

      Decision making often relies, in whole or in part, on the discretion of the decision-maker as well as on the representations made by relevant stakeholders. The decision-makers experience and intuition are crucial. When should they trust their “gut instinct”? When shouldn’t they? How can you influence their thinking and their instincts?
    3. Working towards an oral decision

      This session looks at how delivering a decision orally can affect the decision itself. If you know a decision will be delivered orally, how can you improve the chances of getting the decision you want?
    4. Working towards a written decision

      If a decision will be published in writing, how will that influence the person making the decision? This session reviews how the method of publication influences the decision itself and assesses how you can improve the likelihood of success.