PEOPLE – Persuasion Can Have a Lasting Impact

Influence PEOPLE – Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Can persuasion really have a Lasting impact on the people we interact with? We’ll explore this aspect of influence this week.
I’d like to start with a personal story. When I was in college I was really into weightlifting. I was the president of the Miami University Weightlifting Club and had aspirations of owning my own gym one day. I was competing in power lifting during college and after graduation I competed in bodybuilding for a several years. I loved the gym and hated running because I thought running only burned calories I could be using to get bigger and stronger.

To me the gym was fun because there were different exercises on different days, I was surrounded by friends and meeting new people all the time, and of course there was great music blasting to fire
you up. Compared to that, I thought running was lonely and boring.
I share this with you so you’ll understand my reluctance to an idea put out by my friend Jud Beachler, the owner of The Yoga Factory. More than a dozen years ago Jud tried to persuade several friends we could run the Columbus Marathon. I wanted no part of it but gave in when my wife Jane kept on me about trying it.
I’m proof that people do change because I fell in love with running! All of a sudden I started to train, not just jog. I began racing in 10Ks and half marathons and eventually ran six marathons. Even though
I don’t race anymore I still try to get four to six miles in during the morning most days of the week.
I share this as an example of a lasting change. Jud never had to persuade me again to train or race. Once I got involved, my self-perception changed and I saw myself as a runner. From there it was only natural to do what runners do. Today, if given the choice between lifting or running I’ll choose running every time.
Not all of your attempts at persuasion will
have a lasting change like Jud’s did with me but sometimes they do. Here are just a few examples where the principle of consistency can be used to change personal perception:
  • A coworker isn’t putting forth much effort but you see their potential and “label” them as having outstanding potential. All of a sudden they begin to live up to that potential because they don’t want to disappoint you or themselves.
  • You share with someone about a good cause which leads to them signing a petition and making a small donation. They look into the cause more and become an advocate. Before you know it they’re
    volunteering and regularly donating without any prompting from you.
  • You’re a salesperson who finally made a small sale to a potentially large client. Now that your foot is in the door you’re a supplier and the new entity is no longer a prospect, rather they’re a client. As a client they behave differently towards you without much persuading on your

In sales we often talk about not just wanting
customers, we want fans. Fans love their teams, root for them and find
themselves talking about the team well after the game. Here are some businesses
that have fans, not customers:

  • How likely is it that Harley Davidson owners with a Harley tattoo will be shopping around when they decide it’s time for a new bike? About zero!
  • Owners of Apple products are committed because they have cell phones, iPads and Mac Books. Not too easy to switch when you’re that committed but most wouldn’t switch even if it was easy because they love their Apple products.
  • Pepsi and Coke drinkers both fall into the fan category. It’s nearly impossible to get them to switch … even when they say the other drink tastes better in blind taste tests!

It’s a beautiful thing when someone’s self-perception changes and the behavior change takes on a life of its own
because it frees you from having to continue to persuade the individual. Lasting changes like this allow you to move on to the rest of life’s issues that are demanding your time and attention.

I hope you’ll join me next week as we conclude this series when we look at the “E” in PEOPLE which stands for the Ethical. We will explore the question of ethics in your attempts to persuade other people.
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
2 replies
  1. Anthony Mclean
    Anthony Mclean says:

    Hi Brian, I have an interesting add on for you. In remote Australia the local community was having trouble with truancy. Most efforts failed to get the kids to go to school. So they asked the community and they identified the kids were skipping school to hang out at the local shops. The solution – shut the shops during school hours. Now if the Government had of imposed this type of behaviour it would have been an uproar but because the community chose the action they were all much happier. They then spoke to the kids and asked them what should happen if they didn't turn up to school and they imposed the penalty of not being able to travel to the neighbouring communities to play football – again the kids imposed the penalty for not attending school not the teachers. As a result truancy dropped to all time low with nearly 100% of all students going to school everyday. The project was an overwhelming success and the shop eventually opened during school hours but the kids stayed in school. Persuasion is lasting when applied thoughtfully.

  2. Brian Ahearn
    Brian Ahearn says:

    The self-imposed sanctions usually works well. You see something similar in the military when guys in a unit won't put up with someone not conforming when everyone has to pay the price. I also saw it when Abigail played volleyball and the girls had to run because some girls had their cell phones out when they should not have. The larger group put a stop to that rather quickly.


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