Helping You Learn to Hear "Yes".
The Determination of the Illusionist
Have you ever seen an illusionist? Have you wondered how he’s capable of doing so many tricks? How is he capable of influencing the entire theatre?
That’s what we are going to discover together in this post. The determination of the illusionist is the most powerful tool of influence aside from his self-esteem. To be determined – to decide to do something and be convinced you’ll succeed – is the key! The tennis player “knows” the ball will be in before he hits it; the poker player “knows” he will win before the game begins; and the surgeon “knows” that everything will turn out well for the patient. The result doesn’t always matter because the most important thing is the will of the practitioner.
Let’s imagine together for a moment that we want to convince 200 people to put their arms up in the air. Well, you say, that’s easy because we’ve seen “persuaders” like Norma Barretta and Tony Robbins to do that many times. When they want people to put their arms in the air, they do it first! Okay, that’s a good explanation, but not good enough.
We have talked about our product to the crowd. We have explained all its attributes and advantages. We want people to approve the product by putting their arms up. There is no doubt your product is perfect. Can you feel it? Remember my article “Anti-Social Proof” where I said there are always one or more people who don’t like you? No matter what you say, no matter who you are, some people won’t like you, your opinions, or anything related to you. Why? No worries because it doesn’t matter! That’s just the way it is so, accept it right now and move on.
The people who don’t like you are like a “fifth column” of the public. Like a virus that inhibits what you display in the stage, these people don’t care what you say and they are your first “wall” so to speak. They are structural, always existing…but you can deal with it!
There is another group of people. These are the ones who hear what you say, like what you say, and even care about what you say, but they won’t lift a finger! You know those people? There are a lot of them around. They can’t decide anything because they are passive, always waiting for something else. And they “slow” the movement of the whole crowd. They are the “inertia” of the group that you have to break, the group you have to change. They are your second “wall.”
Wow, I have been talking about problems, limitations and “walls,” but how can we “take the castle”?
Well, if we do like Norma Barretta, talking about our product and when we ask for approbation, and we put our arms up in the air while we are ordering people to do that, what do you think happens? Yes, about 50% of the public puts up their arms. What about the rest? The rest don’t want to do that, or rather, they don’t know they want to do that.
But, as I wrote earlier, the most powerful tool of influence is the determination. So, what can you do? Well, if you want everyone to put their arms up, be determined. Wait. You are supposed to do it and you will do it!
Insist, smiling or shouting, but insist. Suddenly, you’ll see that another 30% put their arms in the air because it’s normal. They wanted to see that you really care. They needed to see you believe and that you have a high level of physical activity. Congratulations, because you’ve broken a big part of the second wall. You knew who they were and knew that they needed to be pushed a little.
Now, for the rest. If you insist, some of the rest will put their arms up. The group of “convinced” people is growing because social-proof (a.k.a. consensus) is growing every second. You are growing stronger and bigger but you’re still not there.
The most important thing is not to give power to the “fifth column” of people. Just reframe the group as resistant but not-yet-convinced. You see? Be calm, I know it’s not easy to resist the “failure” and you can feel it easily. But remember, determination. Determination, determination, determination!
And pride. You have to start showing a kind of pride. The fact is there are still people that haven’t been moved but this is a victory. You only see the ones who are convinced.
Let’s move them slowly but with energy. Make the not-yet-convinced to feel alone. Remember, you are a type of illusionist and your “trick” always succeeds because you've decided what it is!
At the end, there are only two or three people still in their chairs. Don’t worry because it’s normal, remember? We are surrounded by modern August Landmessers but it is okay because we understood that beforehand. So, we can predict the result and we get to define success.
If you have the determination you’ll move the masses, you will move the crowd. We have an impulse that makes us follow those who know, or makes us believe that they know, where they are going (authority). We have an impulse to move like the other when he moves decidedly (liking). We have an impulse to do what the others do (consensus). We have an impulse to do what the other insist to do (consistency). We have an impulse to continue doing what the other appreciate (reciprocity).
And you have the map, you know the rules, and have the determination. Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.
Yago de Marta
International Speech and Media training expert