Sometimes Similarities Mean More When it Comes to Persuasion

Imagine this scene on a busy street in New York
City. Two guys are walking toward each other and the following ensues:
Guy 1 – Hey man, I’m from New York! Are you?
Guy 2 – F%#@ you buddy. I’m from Brooklyn!
Trying to connect with someone based on what
you have in common – similarities – is an effective way to engage the principle of liking … most of the time.
All kidding aside, trying to connect with a
New Yorker in the city over the fact that you’re a New Yorker too has little
meaning. That’s so, because virtually everyone else on the street could say the
same thing. There’s nothing unique or different about that to bond over. However,
connecting over the fact that you’re both from NYC if you were somewhere else,
say California, would mean something because it’s not likely too many others
could say the same thing.
This came to mind recently when I thought back
to a time when Jane and I were in Boston. The year was 2004 and I’d qualified
to run the Boston Marathon. Never having been to Boston we decided to fly in a
few days early to enjoy the city and see the sites. One site we wanted to see
was the bar Cheers, the location of the famous sitcom by the same name.
As you might imagine, when we arrived the bar
was packed with other curious tourists. In fact it was so crowded we couldn’t
get a seat near the bar. After a short while Jane said to me, “I think those
people are from Southwest Pennsylvania.” She could hear a couple talking and
recognized the accent because that’s where she’s from originally.
Shortly thereafter Jane said, “Excuse me. I
wasn’t eavesdropping but are you from Southwest Pennsylvania?” They said they
were and Jane proceeded to tell them she recognized their accent because she
was from Waynesburg, Pa. A conversation ensued and soon we were sitting with
this couple. If you didn’t know any better you’d have thought we knew each
other and were good friends.
As I shared at the beginning, trying to
connect on the Southwest Pennsylvania similarity would not have meant much if
Jane had brought it up in Southwest Pennsylvania. However, doing so in an
unfamiliar environment magnifies similarities. Strangers in a strange city feel
a sense of comfort meeting people they see as similar to themselves.
What does this mean for you? To build or
strengthen relationships you want to look for opportunities to connect using
the principle of liking. Quite often you’ll find yourself in new or unfamiliar
situations so connecting on similarities will be immensely helpful. Here are
some tips:
If you know some people who will be in
attendance at an event you’re attending, Google them to learn about them in
advance. Next, make it a point to connect on anything you have in common.
If you don’t know who will be attending then
you want to ask good questions and demonstrate active listening skills. Here
are seven non-threating, ice-breaking inquiries you might want to use:
  • What do you do for a living?
  • Where are you from originally?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Where do you live currently?
  • Tell me about your family.
  • What are some of your hobbies?
  • What’s the most interesting place you’ve
    traveled to?

Two things will happen when you ask these
questions and actively listen. First, people appreciate the sincere interest
and chance to talk about themselves. Second, you learn what you have in common
and can then go deeper to form connections.

Sometimes similarities mean more when it comes to persuasion. Recognizing
that can help you magnify the liking principle which will help you build
relationships and ultimately make it easier to hear “Yes” when you need someone
to help you.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

 

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