The Madness of People – Our Irrational Selves

“I can calculate the motion of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” 
– Sir Isaac Newton

I came across this quote while reading Robert Greene’s latest book, The Laws of Human Nature. Greene has authored many books including The 48 Laws of Power and The 33 Strategies of War. All are excellent reads because they’re well written and Greene weaves history and interesting stories throughout to illustrate his points.

The quote from Isaac Newton came after Greene shared the story of the South Sea Company. In the early 1700s the South Sea Company was supposed to open trade in South America for England. Suffice it to say, their approach was similar to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme when it came to raising funds. It swept up people across England as they invested in what looked to be a sure-fire get rich quick opportunity. Even the brilliant, rational thinker Isaac Newton fell prey to the madness.

How did that happen? How did it happen again with Bernie Madoff? Why will it happen again? Three big reasons – recency bias, consensus and scarcity.

Recency bias

This is the distorted thinking where we give more weight to recent events than they deserve and we prioritize the present ahead of the future. Over the course of evolution giving immediate, focused attention to whatever was in front of us served humans well. That’s so because most dangers and opportunities were in the moment and needed to be acted upon right away to ensure survival.

Survival isn’t always at stake nowadays but our minds still focus far more on the present than the future. This is why so much importance is put on quarterly earnings by Wall Street. This pressure causes many companies to take actions to satisfy “the street” and investors in the short term but often at the expense of better long-term approaches.

In the case of the South Sea Company it was hard for people to resist investing when they kept seeing the stock price rise and people getting rich…even though the company never actually began trading in South America. Sounds a little like the dot com bust doesn’t it?

Consensus

We’re social animals so it’s natural for us to follow the crowd. This too served humans well when it came to survival. There’s safety in numbers and being part of the group felt more comfortable and safer than going it alone.

We don’t face the same kinds of physical dangers today that our ancestors faced so being part of the crowd shouldn’t be as important. But it is. Studies show exclusion from groups registers in the brain in the same region where physical pain is detected. In other words, there’s very little difference between physical pain and the pain we feel when we’re ostracized from groups.

We still see this mentality today with “hot stocks.” There are always those stocks that everyone seems to flock to which causes more people to flock to them. As this happens stock prices rise even if nothing tangible has been created yet. Sound a little like bitcoin?

Scarcity

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator to act. Humans are wired to be more sensitive to loss than gain. In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence Science and Practice he quotes social scientists Martie Haselton and Daniel Nettle:

“One prominent theory accounts for the primacy of loss over gain in evolutionary terms. If one has enough to survive, an increase in resources will be helpful but a decrease in those same resources could be fatal. Consequently, it would be adaptive to be especially sensitive to the possibility of loss.”

As people learned about the fantastic gains investors were making with the South Sea Company they couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on their chance to change their lot in life. Many dumped their life savings into the company in hopes of becoming fabulously wealthy.

It still happens today. Bernie Madoff’s stellar investment returns were an example. Smart, wealthy individuals and people with very intelligent investment advisors got sucked in. If those people and someone as rational and smart as Sir Isaac Newton can make the same mistake don’t fool yourself thinking you’re above it.

Conclusion

The wiring of your brain generally serves you well. However, we live in an unprecedented time of change and the pace of change is accelerating rapidly. Your brain on the other hand evolves very slowly and sometimes relying on old mental shortcuts can work against you instead of for you.

Next time something is consuming you, where you sense the pull of the crowd and feel like you’ll miss out if you don’t act quickly, take that as a cue to hit the pause button. If you’ll take time to slow down, consider why you’re feeling the way you are and take a long view, that might be enough for you to make a better, more rational decision. Sir Isaac Newton might not have done it but now you know a little more about the madness of human behavior than he did.

 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling  and  Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by nearly 65,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

Influence PEOPLE: The Book – Mental Shortcuts

As I’ve transitioned from corporate America to Influence PEOPLE much of my time has been spent finishing a book I started years ago. Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical should be available online by the end of June. To start building anticipation I will share some excerpts in the months leading up to its publication.

Mental Shortcuts

“This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – that’s almost 3,000 per day”
William C. Taylor, co-founder Fast Company Magazine

In his article titled “Permission Marketing” which appeared in the magazine Fast Company, William C. Taylor wrote, “This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – that is almost 3,000 per day.” Wow! Did you realize you are bombarded with nearly 3,000 marketing messages per day? Here’s a scary thought – Taylor’s quote is from 1998! With the explosion of the Internet and particularly social media, this estimate is as high as 5,000 per day now!

Can anyone realistically process this many marketing messages each day? Of course not! That’s part of the reason Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy, contends “85% of what you do every day is non-conscious.” Some scientists, like Leonard Mlodinow, author of Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, put the number at 95%. Let’s split the difference and say nine out of every 10 decisions and/or actions the average person undertakes are not consciously thought out in some rational fashion. While that might seem troublesome on the surface it’s actually beneficial because it helps us keep our sanity. Many choices we make don’t require lots of effort, which leaves more time and energy for the more important decisions and actions we undertake.

Consider your daily commute to work. If you’re like most people you go through very complex steps to make that commute. Driving a car is no easy task and neither is successfully negotiating traffic with other people driving at high speeds and yet you do it every day with very little thought. You make it to work most days without remembering too much about the drive because you were on autopilot in a very real sense. And so it is with most things we do each day.

This same phenomenon occurs with our thought processes. We don’t analyze every ad, decision or request that comes our way. Sometimes we give deep thought to those things but quite often we don’t because of a lack of time, energy and desire. To maintain our sanity and successfully make it through the day we rely on mental shortcuts. Think of these influence principles as time tested mental shortcuts that help people make quick, satisfactory decisions in the information overloaded society we find ourselves.

Bottom line: we need mental shortcuts to deal with the complexity of life and the principles of influence explain many of the mental shortcuts people use.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling and Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by more than 60,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

Just Don’t Do It!

I’ve no doubt you’re familiar with Nike’s famous slogan Just Do It! As someone who spends most of his time communicating through keynote presentations, training, coaching and consulting, sometimes the best advice is Just Don’t Do It!

When I attend conferences and workshops, in addition to learning new information, I pay close attention to the presenters. I do so because I’m always looking for ways to improve my communication skills. The better job I do as a presenter, the more likely audience members are to walk away with ideas to help them professionally and personally. Sometimes what I learn while watching other presenters is what not to do.

I was at a training event recently where it was apparent the presenter knew the material. Unfortunately, he was an awful presenter. Here are a handful of phrases he uttered that caught my attention:

  • “Thanks for coming to listen to me drone on.” Really, that’s what you’re going to do for three hours?
  • “Contrary to popular demand I won’t cover…” If people want it, why not cover it? At least don’t mention it if you’re not because it causes disappointment.
  • “If you’ve zoned out for some of this presentation I don’t blame you.” Then why should we have even come?
  • “In order to break up the monotony I’ll show a video.” How about trying to make it less monotonous?
  • He used example that wasn’t directly related to his subject and told us not only did it fail, he “went down in flames.” Why highlight your failure with an irrelevant example? Instead, how about telling us what you did that worked?

I texted my wife and said I was about ready to gouge my eyes out with my pen. She suggested I handle it like a bad blind date – go to the restroom and don’t go back. I took her advice and slipped out during a break.

Words Matter

In his NY Times bester-seller, Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary New Way to Influence and Persuade, Robert Cialdini builds the case the setting the stage can make a big difference when it comes to influence. Maybe you occasionally lead meetings, facilitate training or perhaps you’re a fulltime teacher. In each case you’re influencing people as you teach them.

I’ve heard professional educators, people in corporate training, open workshops saying, “I know some of you are here because you have to be,” or “I know some of you are here because your boss made you come.” No, no, no!

Approaches like those just noted either implant negative thoughts or reinforce a negative perceptions attendees might already have. Your job as a facilitator is to help them learn and one step in that direction is to put them in a state of mind that’s conducive to learning. To do this, early on in my workshops I typically ask three questions:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
  3. Why are you excited to be here?

The first question is a nice way for people to connect because oftentimes attendees find out they’re from the same geographic area as others in the workshop. It’s a natural conversation starter.

Question 2 begins to change people’s thinking. Some people don’t enjoy their jobs but getting them focused on activities apart from work that they do enjoy puts them in a better frame of mind.

The final question is geared towards changing their mindsets about learning. When I ask why they’re excited the vast majority of people come up with at least one reason and respond with, “I’m excited to be here because…”

If a person can’t come up with something I might ask, “If I can help you get your kid to empty the dishwasher more often would that make our time together worthwhile?” That usually gets a laugh and positive response. Then I make sure to address that for the individual.

When it comes to learning, subtle shifts in the following mindsets can make a big difference:

  • Closed minded to open minded
  • Bored to curious
  • Uninterested to interested
  • Apathetic to excited

Using a little pre-suasion can make that happen. You can accomplish that using the right questions, certain types of music or the right imagery. I think of this as setting the stage. When your session starts off well it becomes much easier to keep people engaged and learning.

Conclusion

Your words matter because they set a tone. At all costs avoid the kinds of phrases I described near the beginning of this post. But don’t settle for avoidance. Whether you call it pre-suasion, setting the stage or creating the right atmosphere, don’t leave it to chance. Think about frame of mind you want people in as your event starts and do what you can to create an environment that’s conducive.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling and Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by more than 60,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

The Dumbing Down of Social Media

Did you know, in many European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Poland) organ donation rates are almost 100%? However, in some countries (U.K., Germany, Denmark) it’s less than 25%! Are some Europeans four times more socially conscious than their continental partners or is something else going on?

The gap can be explained by one simple difference – in many countries the default when getting a drivers license is to be an organ donor. In countries with high donation rates Europeans drivers have to check a box to opt out of organ donation. In countries with low participation rates people have to check a box to become an organ donor.

Checking a box takes virtually no effort but that small change in the default – check to opt in vs. check to opt out – makes a huge difference! Many people argue it’s good for society to make certain choices, like organ donation or saving for retirement, easier whenever possible.

Behavioral economics looks how people make choices and what’s been discovered can help individuals and organizations structure choices in ways that benefit more people. But, resetting defaults doesn’t always lead to the hoped-for outcomes, especially with social media. The problem is many sites are dumbing things down.

Congrats on your work anniversary!

If you spend any time on LinkedIn then it’s a good bet you’ve seen notifications alerting you about work anniversaries for your connections. That’s nice because those milestones might otherwise go unnoticed.

To make life easier for LinkedIn users the platform lets you click on a link that automatically sets up a message which reads, “Congrats on your work anniversary!” The vast majority of people hit the send button and move on with their day.

But here’s the problem, we’ve come to realize it takes almost no time, effort or thought on the part of the person who sent the message. It’s like getting spam except it comes from someone you know. The same applies to the birthday alerts.

What Can You Do?

People value what you do for them, the gifts you give and the congratulations you offer, much more when you take time to personalize them. In one study, a simple handwritten message on a yellow sticky note doubled response rates on a survey. Why? Reciprocity dictates the more someone does something for us the more we feel we should do for them.

When you take a moment to personalize whatever you’ve done it makes people feel special and shows you put in some extra thought, time and effort. That’s a great way to build or strengthen relationships.

Gifts. You could argue a gift card is the best gift because it lets the receiver buy whatever he or she wants. Letting the other person choose their gift may be nice but there are a couple of problems with this approach:

  1. Now the burden is on the recipient to go to the store.
  2. It might indicate you don’t know them well enough, or care enough, to understand what they might like.

The best time for gift cards are when you know something about the person so it becomes personalized. For example, if someone loves to browse books at Barnes & Noble then a gift card is a reason to go somewhere they enjoy. If they happen to walk away with an unexpected find they’ll remember it was your gift card that led to the purchase.

Congratulations. We all like to be recognized, especially on important dates. It hardly takes time to modify the “Happy birthday!” or “Congrats on your work anniversary!” that automatically pop up daily on LinkedIn.

  1. Happy birthday Joe. Any fun plans for today? Enjoy!
  2. 15 years is a long time Ann! Congrats on the anniversary!

If you take a moment to send a text instead of the LinkedIn message you’ll be surprised at the responses you get. Taking it one step further, there are people I call every year on birthdays. I know they really appreciate it because not only do they tell me, they tell others. A friend recently told me she mentioned my birthday calls to Nick, a mutual connection. Nick told her he doesn’t get a call on his birthday so I sent him this message the same day:

I had lunch with Christy today and she told me you two know each other. I got the sense you weren’t feeling as loved as she does so I’ve marked December 16 as a special day to give you a call. Hopefully we’ll see each other well before then. Enjoy the downside of the week.

Little things like this can make a big difference! Nick and I will have a nice laugh on December 16 and I know this; if I ever need his assistance he’ll gladly help, not because he has to, but because he wants to.

Conclusion

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about social media being social. I applaud the efforts of LinkedIn, Facebook and other social platforms to make it easier for us to remember important milestones for the people we’re connected to. But, don’t let the ease create a laziness in you. Building and maintaining relationships is different than prompting behavior change for social causes. If you don’t understand this you might end up hurting relationships when your intent was to do something nice.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling and Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by more than 60,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

The Mindless Things We Say Affect Us and Others

When you communicate your words create thoughts and feelings within you and for others. Sometimes the feelings come first then trigger thoughts. Other times thoughts may be prompted followed by feelings. Whatever the order (feelings-thoughts or thoughts-feelings) next comes behavior. If you agree with that assertion you’ll also agree that some of the mindless things you say affect your behavior and the behavior of those who hear your words.

I’m Sorry

There are certainly times for legitimate, heart felt apologies. However, if you pay close attention to the times you say you’re sorry, or when others do, you’ll realize quite often sorry isn’t necessary. This came to my attention when I watched a Ted Talk from sociologist Maja Jovanovic.

In early childhood parents and others teach us to say we’re sorry for a variety of reasons. Most are legitimate but after that our need to apologize seems to takes on a life of its own. As Jovanovic points out, constant apologizing disempowers you and can lead others to think less of you.

Here is an example. Let’s say you’re on your way to a meeting and a major car accident will cause you to be late. As soon as you realize this you call the person you’re supposed to meet with and say, “I’m sorry, I’m going be late. There’s an accident on the highway and the traffic is at a standstill.” The accident wasn’t your fault which means being late isn’t your fault so why apologize? It would be just as legitimate to say, “I’m calling to let you know I’m going be late because there’s an accident on the highway and the traffic is at a standstill.”

Again, I point this out because apologizing isn’t always necessary and can actually be counterproductive in terms of how people may view you.

Not Bad

This one is a pet peeve of mine. When you ask someone, “How are you?” it’s very common to hear, “Not bad.” You might be thinking, I know what they mean, but do you really? Let’s analyze this phrase just a little.

Does saying “not bad” mean you’re actually doing well? If so, why not say, “I’m doing well. Thanks for asking.” If bad is the standard are you content simply because you’ve avoided the bad state? That’s not the same as doing well. Or how about this one, “Not too bad.” You could be doing bad but as long as you’re not doing too bad you’re okay. Really?

You might think this is knit picking but it’s important. Doesn’t it make you feel different – in a good way – when someone answers you with “Doing well” or “Things are great” or “Fantastic”? Remember, your words create thoughts and feelings which lead to actions.

No Problem

Recall a time when someone did something you appreciated. It’s likely you said, “Thank you.” I bet you’ve heard the response “No problem” more times than you can count. If someone is paid to help you – restaurant server, customer service, salesperson, etc. – do you really care if it was a problem for them to help you? It’s their job and jobs are created to help people solve problems!

When someone thanks you for helping them any of the following responses are much better:

  • Thank you, it’s nice to be appreciated.
  • You’re welcome. We’re here to help.
  • I enjoy helping people so it was my pleasure.

Those are just a few potential responses to a heartfelt thank you. I’m sure you can come up with many more if you take a moment to think about it. Any of those phrases will leave someone feeling better about their experience than “no problem.”

Conclusion

Having just read this you might begin to notice some of these phrases in your communication. Or, you may notice other words and phrases that don’t serve you or others well. That’s great! Habits are hard to break and it begins with awareness. When you catch yourself don’t get down, be thankful for your awareness. The next step is to begin using words and phrases that will create the kinds of thoughts, feelings and actions in others that you’d like to see.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by almost 55,000 people! Persuasive Coaching went live earlier this year and Creating a Coaching Culture will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched these courses yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

Did you parents ever try to convince you to try something new or different by asking you, “What’s the worst that can happen?” They were subtly trying to get you to realize you’d probably be no worse off for having tried. For example, asking someone for help, what’s the worst that can happen? If they refuse your offer you’re no worse off. However, if they yes you’re better off.

Asking for Help

If you’re struggling with something – driving directions, a project at work, chores at home – you’d think asking for help would be a no brainer. Unfortunately, all too often people don’t ask for help because of fear. Here are three fears you might have when it comes to asking for help:

  1. You’ll look incompetent. This is an outward focus. You want to appear like you have everything under control. In your mind asking for help indicates weakness in the eyes of others.
  2. You’ll feel stupid. This is an inward focus where you put pressure on yourself to have all the answers. Not wanting to feel stupid you may spend much more time than necessary to come up with the answers you need.
  3. The other person might say no. For the most part humans are little pleasure seekers and pain avoiders so it’s natural for you to want to avoid the pain of rejection.

People are More Willing to Help than You Think

Here’s some good news – research shows people are more willing to help than you might think. In one study university students were given a task – ask for an escort, not just directions – to the college gymnasium. The gym was about a 10 minute walk from where the ask was made so it was going to be a bit of an inconvenience for anyone agreeing to help.

Before getting to the task, each student was asked how many people they thought they’d have to approach in order to get a yes. The typical student thought they’d have to approach seven or eight people in order to get someone to help. The average guess was 7.2 people.

When the participants began asking they typically got help after approaching just two or three people. The average for all students was 2.3 people.

That’s significant! People overestimated rejection by more than 200%. If you knew you’d get the help you needed two or three times more than you thought, you’d be much more likely to ask for help whenever you needed it.

The Benefits of Asking for Help

There are lots of benefits to asking for assistance but we’ll focus on three that are very significant.

First, you get the help you needed. Getting help allows you to finish whatever you were trying to accomplish. That feels good but it also feels good knowing people were willing to help you. It restores a little faith in humanity.

Second, the people you help feel good about themselves. When we help others we get a little shot of oxytocin and that feels good. That good feeling reinforces people’s willingness to help in the future. We can accomplish more together than alone so it’s one way humans were designed to ensure our survival.

The third reason is the people who help you will like you more. Typically, you’d think getting help would make you like the helper more. And it does. However, a side benefit of getting help is that the helper comes to like you more.  Those who help you will justify their actions by generating reasons for having done so. Some of those reasons will include thinking about things they like about you.

Conclusion

Imagine there was raffle with a $1,000 prize and all you had to do was fill out an entry form to possibly win. You don’t have to buy a ticket, you won’t be put on some email list and there are no strings attached. Simply put yoru name on a slip of paper and drop it in the bucket. Would you enter the raffle? You have nothing to lose and you might win big.

Next time you need assistance look at asking for help like gambling without having to put money down. The odds of winning are better than you think but even if you don’t win you’re no worse off.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 53,000 people! Persuasive Coaching went live earlier this year and Creating a Coaching Culture will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched these courses yet? Click either to see what you’ve been missing.

LinkedIn is “Social” Media so Try Being Social

One definition for social is “pleasant companionship with friends or associates” (Merriam-Webster). You’re probably social at work when you interact with people in friendly ways. That’s natural and makes work more enjoyable. Are you social on social media?

Social media helps connect people. Never in the history of humanity has it been so easy to connect with so many people anywhere in the world. I’ve made friends across the globe – and met some in person – because I chose to be social on social media. You never know where those relationships will lead.

How I use LinkedIn

I accept every request to connect on LinkedIn even though most people don’t know how to use LinkedIn effectively. For example, too many people just click on the request to connect button without sending a personal message to say why they want to connect. When I get a request like that I always send this message immediately after accepting the connection:

Thanks for reaching out to connect with me Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Almost everyone responds and the number one reason they want to connect with me is because they’ve taken one of my LinkedIn courses. It would be foolish on my part to dismiss so many connections – especially those who’ve enjoyed my course – just because they’re not more LinkedIn savvy. And who knows, those people could be clients in the future.

I like when people are honest and tell me, “I just clicked on the connect button because LinkedIn suggested you. I hope that’s okay?” My usually response: “Thanks for letting me know. Today is your lucky day!” My humor gets laughs and often opens up people to further communication. It’s being social.

An Interesting Exchange

The best exchange happened recently. I changed the name and a few other facts to keep the person anonymous. You’ll see the importance of being social in our brief exchange. There was humor and the principle of liking was clearly in play for both of us.

Me: Thanks for reaching out to connect Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Joe: It suggests people. You looked interesting!

Me: Thanks for letting me know. I’ve done courses for LinkedIn Learning so a lot the time that’s the reason. It’s good to know why people are reaching out. I’m going to let my wife know someone found me interesting today. Every little bit helps. 😉 Have a terrific day. Brian

Joe: You tell her I found you interesting AND handsome AND someone who looked like he’d be an awesome husband.

Me: I’ll show her that message!

Me: I just show her and she said, “He seems like a funny guy.” I told her I wasn’t sure about that but being an Ivy League grad, I knew you were smart…and perceptive!

Joe: A smart something …. do you do talks for insurance conferences?  I am co-chairing an insurance sales conference this year.

It remains to be seen if I’ll speak at the conference but I know this: my odds are much better than they’d have been if I had rejected the connection. If I’d have accepted the connection, but not been social, my chance to speak would have still been much less.

Consider…

There are plenty of reasons to steer clear of social media and one big one is the time suck once you start scrolling through feeds. To prevent falling into the time trap set designated times to use certain apps. For example: I generally try to use LinkedIn early in the morning and limit browsing Facebook to the times when I take a mental break from reading or writing.

Something else to consider – don’t wait until you need to make LinkedIn connections to start making them. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. They start working it after they’ve left a job and need a new one. Think of LinkedIn connections like regular relationships – the more time you invest everyday the better positioned you’ll be when you need help. People are more willing to help those they consider friends (liking) and those who’ve helped them in the past (reciprocity). It starts with you being friendly and looking for ways to help others.

Conclusion

If you want to grow your influence I encourage you to be more social on social media. It’s a great opportunity to practice your influence skills, make friends, and maybe open the door to new opportunities.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.

Trust is the Most Essential Ingredient in Communication and Persuasion

When it comes trust, the late Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, told audiences, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

Persuasion is a form of communication and trust is essential if you want to become more effective when it comes to your ability to build relationships and influence people. Why is trust so important when it comes to persuasion? Two big reasons: trust removes thoughts of manipulation and doubt. Let’s look a little deeper at each.

Manipulation

When you think about manipulation you probably remember times where you felt taken advantage of. Those memories may include:

  • Paying way too much for some product or service
  • Being talked into buying something you clearly didn’t need
  • Realizing after the fact that you were lied to

After each situation you may have thought, “If I only knew then what I know now, I would have made a different decision.”

Trust entails being truthful and being honest. Ethical persuaders don’t lie, conceal facts or distort the truth in order to get what they want.

When it comes to price there may be reasons you’re paying more and ethical persuaders let you know when and why that’s the case. No matter the reason, to build trust an ethical persuader deals with it early on. Here is an example:

“Mr. Smith, I want to be up front with you. Our price is higher than our competitors. Part of the reason is we pay our people more so we get the best electricians [carpenters, repairmen, etc.]. Another reason is our guarantee to finish the job on time. I told you this project will take a week so we will be done by next Monday. Unlike some competitors, we won’t allow this to drag out over two or three weeks. You have my word.”

Doubt

A big reason you engage the services of people like attorneys, doctors, financial planners and others is because they have more expertise than you do in their chosen field. It’s likely they have better solutions than you do and can arrive at those answers faster than you can. In the end you decide it’s worth the money to engage their services because it saves you time, effort and headaches.

Being unsure as to what you need to do causes doubt. None of us likes doubting ourselves as we try to make decisions about our futures. Engaging the services of a trusted expert removes or severely reduces doubt and that makes us feel better.

No matter how much expertise someone may have, if you don’t trust them you’re not likely to follow their advice. Bernie Madoff may know more about investing than you or I, but would you trust him with your money after he swindled people out of more than a billion dollars?

Conclusion

If you want to be as effective as possible when it comes to persuasion you have to be a trustworthy person. Here are three simple ways to make that happen:

  • Be truthful in all your dealings
  • Address any weakness or flaw in your offering early on
  • Make sure your words and deeds match

I’ll close with a quote from Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” Be known as a person of character because you’re someone people trust.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.