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Monday, 11 July 2011

Get What You Want: The Power of Persuasion

Human beings are more easily manipulated than any of us would like to think.  We're smart, autonomous people, as if some little trick is going to make us putty in a strangers hands.  Well, to change your mind in less than ten minutes just google Derren Brown and watch him convince total strangers to give him their wallets and house keys.  But you don't have to be a master of NLP to get what you want from people.  Here's a few tips that will make you more persuasive in any situation whether it's a job interview, getting into a nightclub or trying to get your kids to bed on time.

The first and most important key to persuasion, and just general success in life, is confidence.  If you believe in what you are telling someone, they are going to believe it too.  Stand tall, chin up, give a good firm handshake and look people straight in the eyes when you speak to them.  Not only this, reiterate people's confidence in you.  For example, saying to a customer that you understand there is many companies available and you appreciate their decision to choose yours makes them feel confident in their choice and in you.  Give them someone worth believing!

There is one word than can increase your persuasiveness by over fifty percent.  The simple, little word because.  This is because giving somebody a reason, sometimes even a pointless reason, justifies the request.  If you're in line at Starbucks and ask the person in front if you can cut ahead of them, they're most likely going to tell you to piss off.  However, if you say "Can I cut in front of you because I'm late for a meeting/I really need the toilet/I'm starving" they are statistically much more likely to say yes.  Behavorial Scientist Ellen Langer and her team put this to the test.  They asked a stranger to approach someone at a copy machine and say "Excuse me, I have five copies, may I use the machine?" and, surprisingly, 60% of people agreed.  But when given a because, "Excuse me, I have five copies, may I use the machine because I'm in a rush?" a shocking 94% of people agreed.  Even when they gave the reason "because I need to make copies" almost everyone (93%) complied.  Now, here's where it gets tricky.  When the person had 20 copies to make, rather than five, the pointless because wasn't successful and the reasonable because was.  Try it out, spend a day trying to get people to do things for you using the word "because" and see how it goes!

I'm a waitress so I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make more tips.  The answer is surprisingly simple.  A study by Rick van Baaren showed that servers who mimic customers speech patterns and read the order back exactly as it was given increased their tips by 70%.  This is because people are naturally inclined to like others who are similar to them, and we want to say yes to people we like.  (This tactic also works amazingly in negotiations.  Mimic their body language and you will get your way.)  Another surprisngly simple way to increase tips?  Give them sweets with their bill.  I know!!!  Really!?!?  Yes, really.  A study by behavorial scientist David Strohmetz showed a 3.3% increase when servers gave one candy per diner, and an increase of  14.1% with two candies.

This is because of The Rule of Reciprocity.  Every persuasion book I've read makes a huge point of this, so listen up.  When we do things for people, they feel obligated to do something for us.  Simple right?  It's the golden rule, do unto others blah blah.  So if you have a problem instead of asking who can help you, ask yourself who you can help.  Once you've helped them you have instilled a social obligation for them to return the favor in the future.  Another trick is to ask someone for a bigger favor than you actually want, first.  For example if you ask your parents "Dad, your car is better is on fuel mileage, can I borrow it for a road trip with my friends?" he will probably say no, which you follow up with "Ok, fair enough, well will you at least help me out with $50 for gas?".  In comparison to loaning out his precious, expensive car giving you $50 doesn't seem like a big gesture at all.

Another term for that is called Framing.  According to a very successful con man, framing is a "virus of attention" almost a misdirection like magicians use.  Ask a friend a question, for example, "How much weight can an ant carry?  Is it more or less than 10 times it's own weight?" and ask another friend "How much weight can an ant carry?  Is it more or less than 1000 times it's own weight?".  Now I can almost promise you the first friend is going to have a lower number than the second friend.  Why is this?  Because you have anchored them to use the number you gave them as a point of reference.  By the way, an ant can carry about 50 times it's own body weight.  How can this help you?  Say you want to stay out until midnight, ask your mom "What time do you want me home?  Before or after 1:00?"  You've planted that number in her head and she won't stray far from it, at the very lowest she'll say midnight, your goal.   A frame is a point of reference for how you perceive and understand things.

I could go on and on about this as I really do feel that it's life changing, mind blowing information but I can't because I have to get some candies for customers at work, but I hope you've enjoyed this article I wrote for you.  Would you say you would tell ten or more friends about this article?

Here's a fun little quiz to leave you with.
Cover this equation with something and work your way down to reveal each number in sequence and add them up as you go:

What did you get?  If you're like most people, you got 5000.  Try again, slow down, really think.  The correct answer is 4100.  When your brain reaches 4090, it expects the total to be a nice round number so it takes a neural shortcut and goes straight to 5000.   Our brains are stupid.  To learn more I would highly recommend Flipnosis: The Art of Split Second Persuasion or Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive as further reading.

1 comment:

  1. I fell for the 5000 trick...twice. Thank you there is some very useful information in this blog post.


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