Remember the tale of the Sun and the Wind? They had a bet to see which one of them could make a man take his coat off. The wind blew and blew but all that happened was the man fastened his coat tighter. Then it was the sun’s turn… The art of persuasion is based on subtlety, not challenge …and knowing a few tricks!
Understanding the nature and effect of reward and withdrawal of reward is essential!
If you’re demanding of people, they’ll feel pressured and will almost certainly react against you. The key to getting things done is positive reinforcement. This works well with dogs and – trust me – it works just as well with humans!
Mentalists like Derren Brown often signal unconscious positive reward in their performances. Whenever people do the right thing he nods his head, even if only imperceptibly, an action which represents an unconscious but positive reward. When they don’t do what he wants them to do, he keeps his head still and maintains a poker face. This way of exercising control over others is very powerful – and it works every time! You could even add a smile.
If you’re trying to get agreement from someone, try to pinpoint something, or even better, someone, they don’t like.
Remember the old adage, my enemy’s enemy is my friend? Well, it’s true! Someone is much more likely to trust you and come on board if you share a common dislike, even if it’s just Marmite!
The reason? The more alike you appear to be, the more shared interests you seem to have, the more likely it is the other person will be to like and trust you – and your judgement. This works equally well even if you’re set on getting the other person not to do something. This is very flexible!
You are more likely to get what you want if you give a reason, even if the reason you give makes no sense at all.
In an experiment that measured people’s reactions to someone trying to jump the queue for an office photocopier, the experimenters found that even a nonsense reason produced almost as positive a response as a logical one.
When the queue-jumper asked if others in the queue would mind if he jumped in ahead, only 32% of people allowed the person through. But when the queue-jumper [I hate these people] asked if he could jump ahead because he was in a hurry, the positive response jumped up to 92%.
Even more amazing, when he asked if he could jump the queue because he had some photocopying to do – a totally ridiculous reason – again, around 90% of people allowed him through.
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Believe it or not, people’s behaviour changes when they see themselves in a mirror!
Researchers have found that people are more willing to become more collaborative and trusting if there’s a mirror in the room.
In one experiment, people were left alone in a room with a jar of cookies – the cookies were for sale but no one was checking on payments. The experimenters found that people were more likely to pay if there was a large mirror in the room.
In negotiations, people are more collaborative and more trustworthy if they’re conscious of a mirror in the room. So if you’re trying to get someone to cooperate with you, have your meeting in a room with a mirror – the larger, the better.
People are more likely to make difficult decisions when their blood sugar levels are high, and that’s in the early morning and after food.
Having important conversations is best done at strategic moments.
One study found that judges considering prisoner’s parole were more likely to grant it straight after breakfast than they were a few hours later. Their more benevolent parole decisions then peaked again after lunch. The decision to grant parole needs processing and thinking, which needs higher blood sugar levels.
A lot of important decisions are made over business lunches, alcohol not withstanding.
Food can also be a powerful weapon in hostage situations. Food is often used as a reward for cooperation and if a negotiator wants the hostage-taker to make a positive decision, food is often sent in beforehand.
Wearing smart clothes or a uniform can be very effective when it comes to getting what you want.
Dressing in a similar way to the person you’re dealing with demonstrates how similar you are. Frank Abagnale was a real life con man and his story was the inspiration behind the film Catch Me If You Can. He travelled the world and stayed in five star hotels for free by wearing an pilot’s uniform. You don’t have to go that far, but any request for a discount or upgrade will be much more effective if you look the part.
In 1974, leading psychologist Leonard Bickman got a research assistant to stand in the street and ask passersby to pick up a paper bag, or give a dime to a stranger, or move away from a bus stop. The research assistant did this while wearing civilian clothes, a milkman’s uniform, or a guard’s uniform.
19% of people obeyed the civilian, only 14% obeyed the milkman, and 38% – double the number that obeyed the civilian – obeyed the guard. In a variation of the experiment, Bickman found that people continued to obey the guard even after he walked away, suggesting that they complied not because they felt coerced, but because they believed in the legitimacy of his authority.
The only reason Norwegian psychopath and mass murderer Anders Brevik managed to kill so many was because he was wearing a police uniform – his victims did not flee, many of them moved toward him because he appeared to be one of the good guys!
A British Stage Hypnotist who goes by the stage name Doc Strange wears a white lab coat when he does his act in pubs and social clubs. It’s a way of unconsciously communicating the notion that he knows what he’s doing. Even the drunks in the audience are better behaved!
So the smarter the clothes you wear, the more likely it is that people are going to think you’re important and therefore will be more willing to buy into what you say.
The same rules are true of, and also apply to body language and the way you speak. An air of importance goes a log way. Avoiding the use of profanity is always a good idea – even if the other person is swearing like a trooper. The bottom line is that If you believe you’re important, others will too.
Copyright Andrew Newton 2016. All rights reserved.