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Persuasion, the essence of diplomacy was prepared in the honour of Prof. Dietrich Kappeler's 80th birthday, founder of Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies and DiploFoundation.

Persuasion is one of the threads that connect ancient diplomats with twenty-first-century diplomacy in the digital age. Today, as ever, to persuade and/or be persuaded is one of the diplomat’s key concerns. Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook may have changed the playing field a little, but the essence of diplomacy remains the same. 

Persuasion – language-mediated influence, a peaceful and sincere change of diplomatic view, and the congruence of attitudes – has been and will continue to be a valued skill, a characteristic that we share with the earliest diplomats, our predecessors.

This publication and a seminar 'Persuasion, the essence of diplomacy' (Geneva, 3rd April 2013) address, among others, the following questions:

  • Do you agree with Professor Kappeler’s view that persuasion is the essence of diplomacy? Does this reflect your experience?
  • Persuasion implies a change in the mental state of the persuaded side. Have you personally tried to change and succeeded in changing the ideas of your counterparts or diplomatic interlocutors in general?
  • When you managed to persuade them, what in your own view was the decisive factor: argument, emotion, rhetorical skill, the structure of incentives such as awards and penalties....
  • Have you had a negative experience with the process? For instance, have you dealt with some diplomatic actors who were extremely resistant to your attempts at persuasion? What lessons could we draw from such experience? 
  • Have you ever been persuaded by a diplomatic counterpart or interlocutor? What is it that explains their persuasiveness? Have some diplomatic counterparts tried but failed to persuade you? What, in your own view, explains this failure?
  • Who were the best persuaders you have met in your career? What were their key strengths (argument, emotion, charisma....) ? Do historical considerations play an important role in the process?
  • Do you think that persuasion will change in the Internet era? Will it be easier or more difficult to persuade via the Internet?
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