Monday, June 28, 2010
As a principal of influence consistency tells us people want to be seen as consistent in what they say and what they do because generally people feel better about themselves when their words and deeds match. That simple understanding gives you a great opportunity to persuade people because if you can align what you are asking for with something someone has previously said or done then the odds of hearing “Yes!” increase dramatically.
When I teach the 2-day Principles of Persuasion workshop it's not uncommon for people to misapply the use of consistency during the learning process. This happens when they think about their own consistent behavior and try to use that as a lever to get someone to say “Yes!” You consistently doing good work, good deeds, being on time, etc., are great attributes, but that's really not the application of consistency as a principle of influence. Going back to our definition, the principle tells us that other people want to be seen as consistent in what they say and what they do. Therefore we need to align our requests to match their prior words or deeds to increase our odds for success.
When you’re consistent in the things you say and do that builds credibility for you in the eye of others. It enhances your personal authority and becomes a reason someone might ask for your assistance. For example, if you're a consistently high performer at work people come to depend on you. Or, if you're always meeting deadlines people see you as a go to person when they need something done right away. Those can help your career immensely but that’s not applying the principle of consistency because in neither situation are you trying to persuade the other person.
However, when you need to make a request of someone else, tapping into their prior actions can be a powerful way to get them to do what you want. As an example, if a customer talks about how much they like your company, or a particular product, those would be perfect to incorporate into your request to get them to try a new product. Consider the following: “Sally, I really appreciate you sharing all the things you liked about our Bass-O-Matic. It makes me feel great to hear how happy you are with it. Since you’ve enjoyed it so much I naturally thought you’d want to be one of the first to try the Bass-O-Matic 2.” While Sally might try the new product without you referring to her prior words you’d have a much better chance of making the sale by reminding her of how satisfied she was with the prior purchase.
So maybe you’re thinking, “This sounds good but I don’t know if it will really work.” Influence People relies on science rather than good advice so here's a study that was done that shows how potentially powerful consistency can be.
On a beach in the New York City area some social psychologists arranged to have a person lay down a blanket near a stranger then set a radio on the blanket. Next the person got up to take a walk on the beach and soon after they left, someone associated with experiment came along and “stole” the radio. The experimenters wanted to see how often the unsuspecting person would say or do anything about the robbery they were witnessing. On day one only four out of 20 people said or did anything about the theft in progress.
The experiment was repeated on day two, doing everything exactly the same except for one thing. On the second day, just before the person was to head off for a walk, the person turned to the stranger near them and asked if they would, “watch my things.” Naturally everyone agree to this simple request. Now, when the thief came along 19 out of 20 people intervened and a few people even tried to physically restrain the would-be thief!
Think about this for a moment; the only difference between day one and day two was a simple question. How would you feel if the person came back, saw their radio gone and asked, “What happened to my radio?” and you had to tell them someone stole it. “But you told me you keep an eye on it?” If you’re like most people you’d feel pretty bad and that’s the motivator because no one wants to feel bad when they can avoid it.
This is one simple application of this principle of influence. If you keep reading Influence People you’ll learn how to tap into this principle. Do so and consistency will truly become a jewel for you because it will help you hear “Yes!” far more often when you make requests other people.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Monday, June 21, 2010
A few weeks ago I posted an article called Influence Approaches for Different Personality Styles. It was my most read blog post to date so I decided to follow it up with something different, a reader survey.
In that article I mentioned there were no scientific studies on the relationship between personality types and influence approaches. What I shared was my personal opinion on which principles of influence I thought would be best to use with the different personality styles.
The lack of information got me thinking more about the subject so I decided to gather my own data. But, in order to do so I need your help. I’d like you to read the general personality descriptions below, decide which best describes you, and then click on the associated link to take a 10 question multiple choice survey. While no description will fit you perfectly choose the one that you think best represents you.
A. You thrive on challenges and have a strong internal motivation to succeed. You're practical and very focused on getting results. You get lots accomplished very quickly. You talk faster than most people and you're direct and to the point. You’re often viewed as decisive. Words that describe you include: action-orientated, decisive, problem solver, direct, assertive, demanding, risk taker, forceful, competitive, independent, determined and results-orientated. This is the pragmatic/driver personality. If this describes you, click here to take the survey.
B. You are very outgoing and enthusiastic, with a high energy level. You’re an idea person, but usually struggle to see ideas through to completion. You enjoy helping others and enjoy socializing. You are usually slow to reach a decision. People often think of you of as a talker, dramatic and impulsive. Words that describe you include: verbal, motivating, enthusiastic, convincing, impulsive, influential, charming, confident, dramatic, optimistic and animated. This is the influencer/expressive personality type. If this describes you, click here to take the survey.
C. You are dependable, loyal and easygoing. You like things that are non-threatening and friendly. You don’t like dealing with impersonal details or cold hard facts. Usually you’re quick to reach a decision. People often describe you as a warm person and sensitive to the feelings of others. Words that describe you include: patient, loyal, sympathetic, team person, relaxed, mature, supportive, stable, considerate, empathetic, persevering, trusting and congenial. This describes the facilitator/amiable individual. If this describes you, click here to take the survey.
D. You are known for being systematic, well organized and deliberate. You appreciate facts and information presented logically. You enjoy organization and completion of detailed tasks. Others may see you as being cautious, very structured, someone who adopts a rule oriented approach to life. Words that describe you include: controlled, orderly, precise, disciplined, deliberate, cautious, diplomatic, systematic, logical and conventional. This describes the thinker/analytic. If this describes you, click here to take the survey.
Each survey question will put you in a different situation and ask which of the three responses would be the biggest factor in you saying "Yes" to a request. While each potential answer might factor into your decision to one degree or another please choose the one you think would most impact your decision.
If you want to take the survey please do so before June 30th. That's when I'll close the survey and begin to analyze the data. Look for a July post where I'll share the results. Thanks for taking a few minutes to participate; I appreciate your help on this project.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Monday, June 14, 2010
What’s significant about Abigail’s situation is that entering high school next year will be a HUGE change, much more than for the typical kid. You see, she’s gone to the same school her whole life, Polaris Christian Academy, with basically the same group of friends. There were only a dozen kids in her class and just four girls including Abigail.
In the fall she’ll attend Westerville South High School which means she goes from the small, private Christian school environment to the huge public school; from a tiny class to one that will have more than 400! And did I mention that none of the kids she knows will go to her new school? It could make for a lonely, difficult time.
In early May she posted on Facebook, “Another awards chapel were im the only one left in my row, 9 yrs of that, hmm getting kinda tired of it :/” As a parent, seeing something like that breaks my heart. Consensus, that desire to be a part of the crowd, is an incredibly strong psychological force, especially for kids. Not being a part of the group is tough for kids because they're fighting physical pain when they’re excluded from a group. That’s right, being excluded from a group registers in the brain as physical pain! Watch this short video of Dr. Robert Cialdini as he explains this interesting scientific finding.
So how’s a parent to deal with this? I believe there’s potentially good and bad in everything. Some “good” things become bad when we abuse them and some “bad” things turn out to be good for us if we deal with them the right way. As a parent one of my responsibilities is to help Abigail learn this truth so she can overcome obstacles and enjoy life to the fullest.
All of this started me thinking and I noticed something about her personality. While all her friends were doing things together when they were younger Abigail worked for four years to earn her black belt in taekwondo. When her girlfriends all went out for cheerleading she didn’t because it wasn’t for her. When they all played basketball over the winter she passed to play club volleyball where she didn’t know anyone. While her friends were all on stage for the plays the last few years Abigail decided she’d rather be backstage working the lights.
After thinking about this I told Abigail I was proud of her. She didn’t quite get it but I explained that she showed strength of character to be okay with not being a part of everything everyone else did. If she can deal with not partaking in the fun activities her friends were doing and if she can deal with the feelings of being singled out because she didn’t get awards when most other kids were recognized then I have confidence she’ll be her own person as she takes this big step in life and moves into a totally foreign environment in high school.
On a similar note; several years ago while at camp Abigail didn’t finish all her food so the camp counselor said she’d have to sing in front of the other campers. She doesn’t like to sing so she dug her heels in and said she wouldn't and despite the fact that her mom was sitting there watching, and embarrassed I might add, Abigail didn’t give in.
Again, I saw this as a learning opportunity. After that incident I told Abigail that mom shared the story with me about what happened and that I was proud of her. She had a hard time understanding that one too. I explained that she shouldn’t just do what everyone asks her to, or tells her to, and that the camp incident was good training. I followed that up by telling her she’d have to accept the consequences that come with saying “No” to people and there would certainly be consequences for saying no to an authority like a teacher.
I hope you see where I’m going with this. As I wrote earlier, consensus can be a powerful psychological force at work on us and sometimes it can lead us to do things we ought not to. By the same token authority is a powerful influence as well. Sometimes we do things because someone we perceive to be an authority tells us to. Part of learning to navigate life as an independent adult is knowing whom to say “Yes” to and whom to say “No” to.So here’s my encouragement to those of you who are parents. Understanding how the principles of influence can be used against you or your kids is just as important as learning how to ethically use them. Talk to your kids about this because it will give them the tools necessary to make better, more informed choices. You'll be glad you did.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
This means the politician must tap into similarities so they can identify with voters. Doing so allows the politician to "tune in" with them so the people sense their reflection, or "their way," in the image they see projected on television. But the truth is that’s not enough. Clearly, we have great confidence in our best friend, yet we don’t let him take charge of our family finances or give a medical diagnosis for cancer for a loved one. That is, liking is not enough without the authority.
In the case of the politician this duality is even bigger. Everyone is looking for a candidate who is "special," and it’s this special status that seems to be closely tied to political roles. Unfortunately it seems to be a scarce quality these days. Politicians are viewed differently because if the politician is going to govern the destiny of a country we must believe he’s able to do things we cannot.
Now if these two elements, liking and authority, must be linked to the personality of the politician, and both have different aspects, how are we to relate to them from a practical perspective on the personality of the politician? There are several ways but in this article we will focus on two: stylistic and internal.
Stylistic: A common mistake most novice speakers make is that they change completely when they speak from behind a lectern. All of a sudden they create a pose. They lose their original personality because they begin to talk in an artificial way. This error is very serious because the most important quality of liking in communication is "being real."
There are two main styles: the systematic and casual. The systematic is normally observed in parliaments. It is characterized by very marked time, a major impact on certain syllables of words and a repetitive rhythm whereas the casual style is more conversational.
Casual is simply "telling" what we mean. My advice to politicians is simply this; go back to basics and be real. When behind the podium one must remember to talk as we talk in a cafe. The first style gives us strength, control, presence. It gives us authority. The second gives us fluency, closeness, credibility. All of a sudden we tap into liking and are likable.
Communicating well from the bench means being able to move on the continuum between the systematic and casual, between authority and liking. If we only rely on one, we can come across as robotic or worse yet, uneducated.
The second aspect we want to explore is the internal. Another common mistake of politicians is ego. I believe a big ego is the opposite of high self-esteem. Big egos can make the candidate come across as brittle and seem distant from the audience.
Remembering Gallway and "The Inner Game," the player must be "in the zone" and focused. To be in the zone in politics, or in public speaking in general, means being strong and very secure. This implies feeling special, to feel that no one can say things the way we say them. This routine occurs in the mind; a state of force that allows for a very strong speech.
This attitude gives the necessary distance from political environment to create the authority. I often say that if that does not mean being proud. If we are focused, no. What is the focus? People. The politician, and really every speaker, should focus on people. You must look at people and think about the people. This attitude spiritually and emotionally binds you with the public. It’s the reason and motivation for the speech. It allows you to feel safe and absolutely connected with the public. This connection causes liking. It dilutes the ego in the mass communication to make something superior. And communicating well from the bench is being able to move on the continuum between "the zone" and "focused" tapping into both authority and liking. If we only rely on one, or the other, we may be seen as a tyrant or a weakling.
Note to readers: We may not be politicians but in certain areas of life, such as our careers, we need to effectively tap into both authority and liking if we’re to enjoy success to the fullest, because being liked, trusted and viewed as a expert is what will give you the best chance of hearing “Yes” when you make a request of another person.