Persuasion (Part 1 of Fishing Lessons)

If you haven’t read Dr. Robert Cialdini’s, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” you need to. I’ve heard talk about that this is a great book for sales and marketing people.

Not true.

It’s a great book for anyone who has anything to do with business. Think about it. How many times a day do you have to persuade someone to do something you need done. If you’re a leader, that’s all you do. How many times a day is someone trying to convince you to do something they need you to do?

Cialdini talks about the pieces of our brain that respond to these tactics as the “click whirr” portions. They’re very automatic, unless you understand them. If you know about them, you can circumvent them (most of the time) and you can use them to your benefit and also to the benefit of those around you.

He’s got a total of 6 principles that he talks about in-depth and I’m not going to cover all of them here, but I’ll give you enough of a taste that you’ll want to go get the book yourself.

For instance, in the book, one of the principles Cialdini talks about is “Liking.” That is, we respond better to people we like. That seems logical, doesn’t it? If it’s so logical, why is it that a lot of people seem to think that you can get better customer service by being brusk and abrasive? Give it a shot the next time you’re on the phone with someone at the cable company.

  • Be pleasant
  • Use the CSR’s first name
  • Say “Thank you.”

Now, if you really want to be cooking with persuasive gas, do it at work. If you’re a leader, apply all that to your employees. I’m not saying that you have to become best friend’s with them, but if your reputation is like Donald Trump, try making them like you for a while. You’re very likely to see your production numbers soar, and when you need extra effort from them, you’ll get it without too many complaints.

Another of the principles, and one of my favorites is “Reciprocity.” It’s all prevalent in human society. In fact, it’s what a lot of what makes human society work, and you can see it every day. It’s the concept of “if I give you something, you owe me.” It’s a lot more subtle than that, but it’s very true, and we’re geared to automatically respond to it. I’d try to give this a detailed treatment here, but there’s really a lot more to this than I can cover in a blog post, so I’m going to give you enough to see the value in buying Dr. Cialdini’s book.

We’ve all been in a situation that he talks about. A co-worker needs you to help with something that they’re in a dire situation with, and they’ve begged you into helping them. You’ve helped them finish it, and you’ve saved them from a horrible day at work. Bring the last time you were in that situation into your mind. Close your eyes and think about it. Your co-worker says to you, “Thanks, a lot. You totally saved my bacon on that one.”

How do you respond? If you’re like most people, you say, “No problem,” and you leave it at that. Cialdini points that out as the moment that you’ve lost the power of reciprocity. Instead of just leaving it there, tack on, “…I know that you’d have done the same for me if I were in that situation.” That doesn’t sound any worse, but it activates the “click, whirr” part of the brain, and gives you a better chance of persuading that person when you’re in need, without ever having to overtly refer back to the situation.

Now, like I said, there’s a lot more to Dr. Cialdini’s book than I’ve presented here. I’ve not even scratched the surface. Go get it. Read it. You’ll be better able to succeed in work and life after reading it.

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