You Haven’t Given Me A Gift, You’ve Given Me An Obligation

Across much of the world, it’s the holiday season and for many people the biggest holiday of them all is Christmas. Some celebrate Christmas as the season of joy and peace. For others, it’s the season of love. For most it’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

A huge part of the modern celebration of Christmas is Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and holiday music. In some stores Christmas music started around Halloween! Of course, the holiday season represents the bulk of sales for many retail stores, sometimes accounting for as much as 70% of their gross revenue!  A successful holiday season is a matter of economic survival for many businesses.

Gift Giving

All of this leads to another Christmas tradition – gift giving. The television show The Big Bang Theory had an excellent holiday episode on the exchange of gifts. Sheldon feels pressure because Penny got him a Christmas present and here is some of their interaction:

  • Sheldon: You bought me a present?
  • Penny: Yes.
  • Sheldon: Why would you do such a thing?
  • Penny: I don’t know, because it’s Christmas.
  • Sheldon: No Penny, I know you’re thinking you’re being generous but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation.
  • Penny: Honey, it’s okay, you don’t have to give me anything in return.
  • Sheldon: Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as the gift you’ve given me. Gosh, no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.

The skit nails the rule of reciprocity. A powerful principle of influence, reciprocity alerts us to this reality – we feel obligated to give back to those who’ve given to us. We are taught this rule in early childhood. Someone did something kind for you and mom or dad said, “What do you say?” You responded, “Thank you.” And the conditioning began! Sheldon wasn’t responding to Penny out of the goodness of his heart but rather a lifetime of conditioning when he felt the need to match Penny’s gift.

We also see reciprocity at work powerfully in another of the Christmas traditions – exchanging holiday cards. Have you ever received a card in the mail from someone not on your list? How did you feel? If you’re like most people you probably responded in one of two ways:

  1. Got a card in the mail to the other person pronto, or
  2. Added the person to your mailing list for next year.

Why Do You Respond?

Why do you respond this way so often? Because it would be socially awkward next time you saw the other person if you didn’t reciprocate and they noticed.

In fact, we’re so conditioned by reciprocity that we often respond when we don’t really want to. Here are some examples:

  • You’re at the mall and someone from a kiosk shoves something in your face and begins asking you questions. You respond, “No thanks,” even though you’re not thankful they accosted you.
  • You get mailing labels in the mailbox and you respond to these “gifts” by sending the charitable organization a small donation.
  • You’re out with friends, have had enough to drink and are ready to go home, but you stick around to buy a round because you don’t want to be seen as having drinks but not paying for a round.

Some Uplifting News

But there’s good news in all this. Sheldon wasn’t 100% accurate. He said suicide rates skyrocket during the holidays but that’s not true. According the NYU Lagone Medical Center, “The media often links suicides during this time of year to the ‘holiday blues.’ However, various studies have shown no relationship between depression and suicide, and the holiday season. In fact, researchers found that depression rates and suicides actually drop during the winter months and peak in the spring.”

Conclusion

While it may be the season to reciprocate, don’t buy gifts and send cards this time of year under penalty of death. But beware, you might feel awkward around some people for a time if you break the rule of reciprocity.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!



Great Holiday Gift Ideas

I hope you and your loved ones had a great Thanksgiving. You may be getting ready to celebrate another holiday – Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Festivus – in December so it’s a good bet you’ll be exchanging gifts with family and friends.

Knowing you want love ones to enjoy success and happiness, I hope you’ll consider giving one or more of my books as a gift.

The Influencer

The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness tells the story of John Andrews, an ordinary person who becomes an extraordinary influencer as he learns from coaches, mentors, friends, and others on his life journey.

Nearly every character you’ll read about is based on someone I learned valuable lessons from in life, so it was an honor to include them in the book.

Available in Paperback or Kindle

 

Influence PEOPLE

Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical is a business/psychology book that dives deep into the practical application of influence in everyday situations including business examples, case studies, social media, and more.

Influence PEOPLE was named One of the Top 100 Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority!

Available in Paperback, Kindle, or Audible

 

Persuasive Selling

If you’re in sales, even if you’re not in insurance, then Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents is the book for you because you’ll learn how to ethically influence clients at each step in the sales cycle.

You’ll also find out how to influence people based on their personality, ways to incorporate pre-suasion into sales, and you’ll learn a five-step process to significantly improve your listening skills.

Available in Paperback or Kindle

 

Want a Signed Copy?

Autographed copies are available for U.S. residents for only $15. What a deal!! If you’d like a signed copy with a personal message, reach out to me at Brian.Ahearn@influencepeople.biz with details.

 

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An authorTEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Don’t Be A Turkey When It Comes To Thanksgiving

This week Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving. The holiday’s origins go back to the 1600s with the arrival of the Pilgrims on the continent. However, it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln that Americans formally acknowledged the last Thursday in November as the day of celebration.

Franklin D. Roosevelt altered the date in 1939, when there were five Thursdays in November. FDR declared the fourth Thursday to be the official day and the Senate ratified his decision in 1942, officially making the fourth Thursday Thanksgiving in the United States.

While we have an official day of thanks, we should be thankful every day, and multiple times each day, because there’s much to be grateful for. 

If Viktor Frankl could find reason to give thanks while imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, then we can all find reasons to be thankful each day. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to take things for granted so it’s not until something is missing that we appreciate it more. 

Don’t Do This

Speaking of being thankful, here’s an example of the wrong way to go about it. Many years ago, a colleague needed help with something. What was asked not only required my time but the time of several others as well. It forced us to put things on hold for other people but nonetheless we “stopped the presses” and accommodated the request. 

My associate got what was needed then went about their business the next day. What stood out to me was this – the individual never thanked us. I remember thinking, “I don’t work for thanks. I get paid well to do my job,” but I also knew in my heart I wouldn’t extend myself for that person again and I certainly wouldn’t ask others to do so.

I don’t think I’m different from most people in this regard. When I go out of my way to help someone – even when paid – if I don’t get some acknowledgment of appreciation, I know I won’t try as hard the next time. Contrast that with people who offer genuine thanks and appreciation. I bet you would go above and beyond for those people.

Reciprocity in Action

Giving thanks is a form of reciprocity, the principle of influence tells us people feel obligated to give back to those who first give to them. According to the French social psychologist Marcel Mauss, every human society teaches its people the way of reciprocity. We see this as we raise our children because one of the first things we teach them to say is, “Thank you,” after someone has done something for them.

Because we’re all brought up in the way of reciprocity most people are somewhat offended when the individual they helped doesn’t take a moment to say thanks. Beyond offense, people are less willing to help thankless people as time goes by. It’s a natural human response.

Why Thankfulness Matters

When you express sincere appreciation people are more likely to help you in the future. Think about this; you help someone, they express gratitude, and you feel good about the action you took. You’re naturally more inclined to repeat behaviors in the future that make you feel good. And don’t forget, the person you helped is more likely to help others too by “paying it forward.”

As we approach the day that commemorates giving thanks, pause to reflect and see if you’re someone who regularly gives thanks when someone does something for you. If you don’t, or don’t as regularly as you should, make a commitment to start. I think you’ll be amazed at how people respond to you. and you’ll be thankful you changed your ways.

I hope you and your loved ones have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Need Help to get Something Done?

The following is a chapter from my first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. If you find it helpful, order your copy today. If you already have a copy, a review would be much appreciated.

Need Help to get Something Done?

Suppose it’s Monday the 22nd and you need to get a report to your boss by next Monday, the 29th. In order to finish the report you need some stats from a coworker in another department. This is big because your report, after being reviewed by the boss, will be incorporated into the CEO’s quarterly board report. How are you going to make your request to that coworker to ensure the best chance of getting what you need in time to fulfill your obligation?

My experience says most people will shoot an email to the coworker that’s straight to the point, “Harold, I need the quarterly sales numbers with profit by Friday.” That’s a legitimate way to communicate but doomed to fail more often than you’d like. So how do we start recreating the message to ensure success?

Ask, Don’t Tell

First of all, ask, don’t tell. The principle of consistency tells us people are far more likely to do something that’s in line with something they’ve previously said or done. That means the key to success is getting your coworker to commit up front by answering a question. That’s not too difficult. Simply ask him for help rather than telling him what you need. Do this by changing your message to read, “Harold, would you be able to get me the quarterly sales numbers with profit by Friday?” 

Your request has gone from a statement to a question. If Harold says Yes your odds of success just went up significantly. After all, people feel better about themselves when their words and deeds match, so Harold will probably try a little harder to make sure he lives up to his commitment.

Have a Fallback

But wait, Harold’s busy and despite being a nice guy, he might feel he’s too busy to help you. A knee jerk response might be, “Pat, I’d love to help but I’m just too busy right now,” and your heart sinks. Don’t worry, there might be a way around this potential problem! A better request would have been, “Harold, would you be able to get me the quarterly sales numbers with profit by Wednesday?”

Why is asking with a shorter time frame a better approach? The rule of reciprocity tells us people feel obligated to give to us when we give first. If Harold says no to Wednesday you’ll want to come back immediately with something like this, “I understand Harold, it has never been busier around here. Would you be able to get the numbers by Thursday?” This still leaves room for another fallback opportunity if needed. Studies show when you make a second request, offering a concession immediately after someone says no, they’re very likely to concede too. That means you might just hear Yes to your second request and get what you need in a timely fashion.

Use Because

We’re not done just yet because there is one more strategy you can employ – use the word “because.” You’ll recall “because” acts like an automatic trigger causing people to comply with requests more often when followed with a reason. Here’s how the master persuader approaches this:

“Harold, would you be able to get me the quarterly sales numbers with profit by Wednesday because I need them for the board report?”

This approach uses “because,” which gives the best chance of hearing Yes! Stating it’s for the board report also adds some authority. Putting the request in question format engages consistency, upping the odds that Harold will follow through if he agrees up front to get you the numbers. And don’t forget, if Harold says no, you have an opportunity to engage reciprocity by making concessions as you fall back to Friday.

Could Harold still say no to Friday? Sure, but think about the person who regularly makes requests as I’ve just outlined vs. someone who always tells people what he or she needs with no mention of timing or reason. Who do you think will be successful more often? The savvy persuader will get what he or she needs far more. That will translate into more work accomplished on time and very likely under budget.

How can you Influence PEOPLE?

When you need someone to do something – ask, don’t tell to engage consistency; give them a reason using because; and allow yourself a fallback position to leverage reciprocity by way of concessions. These small changes in how you communicate will lead to bigger, better results more often. 

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!



Privilege and Judgment

Privilege is a word that’s kicked around quite often these days. If you look at various sources, you’ll see definitions that include words like benefit, advantage, favor, or special right that a person or group may have. Much of the time the privilege someone enjoys has little to do with their choices. 

When you think about it, privilege is about comparisons. The thing that might be a benefit or advantage for me when compared to you, could be a disadvantage when compared to someone else.

Wealth is often considered privilege because of the advantages it affords. If wealth is privilege, then no matter how many people you’re better off than, you’re always less privileged compared to someone who has more. 

I certainly don’t have the same access and opportunities as Elon Musk, LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey, or ex-Presidents because I don’t have their wealth. However, I also know I have more privilege than the vast majority of the world because I live in America and our standard of living is so good.

We all have some privilege

When it comes to discussions around privilege, it surprises people when I remind them they’re among the most privileged to ever walk the face of the Earth. 

Why do I write that? Because no one before us has ever lived in a safer, more prosperous time than today. That’s not my opinion, that’s according to statistical records as cited by Harvard professor and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker in his 2017 TED Talk, Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers

Of course, progress is not a given and the pandemic (a hundred-year anomaly) may mean a step back on some of Pinker’s stats. Despite that, with all of the advances in technology, medicine, safety, etc., I’ve yet to find anyone who would go back 25 years, 50 years, or more, if given the chance. Things are far from perfect, but we have it much better than our ancestors. We enjoy privilege.

Privilege isn’t going away

Jesus told his followers, “The poor you will always have with you.” He didn’t say that to discourage helping those who are less fortunate. His observation was simply stating a fact. 

In today’s language we could say we will always have privileged and disadvantaged people. While we should work to reduce inequality gaps of any kind, let’s not fool ourselves, we won’t get rid of all of the gaps. No matter how hard we try, we won’t usher in utopia. 

Knowing that each of us has a position of privilege as compared to our ancestors, we need to exercise humility and extend grace. After all, being born at this point in time was none of our doing and much of the good fortune we enjoy are the results of lucky breaks.

As we look back on our ancestors and see many are being canceled because of things they said, did, or believed, we need to be humble – but for the grace of God there go I – and extend grace. 

It’s folly to think if we’d lived sometime in the past that we would have made different decisions than those people. You can only think that way from the privileged point of view thanks to decades, centuries, and millennia of societal evolution. Without that progress it’s not likely you’d have the views that you hold today.

Humility and Grace

It’s easy to think, “If I were alive then I would have [fill in the blank].” But the reality is, you don’t know what you would have felt, thought, or done. To insist otherwise isn’t grounded in reality. 

An attitude like that reminds me of a certain religious leader Jesus mentioned. The pious man stood before the altar, looked at a poor man, then gave thanks that he wasn’t like that beggar. 

Many people today, from a privileged point of view, look down on those who came before them, thanking God that they are not like those people. 

How does that square with the rich man and poor beggar? The beggar, not the rich man, was considered more righteous. 

Each of us has been the rich man and poor man at different times in our lives. Recognizing that, we could all use a dose of humility when it comes to whatever privilege we may have.  

In humility we need to extend grace, not condemnation, to others lest we find ourselves in the judgmental position of the pious man at the altar. Never forget, casting judgment isn’t a matter of privilege, it’s an attitude of the heart that can be directed at anyone. 

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Starbucks, how about helping a barista?

Recently I posted an idea about a simple change to the Starbucks app that could help baristas earn extra money through more generous tips. A friend asked if I could expand on the thought process behind the suggestion and that’s the reason for this article. I’m sure there are many things Starbucks could do to help workers so this is my contribution to the idea pool.  

If you’re a Starbucks fan who uses their app, after making your purchase you get a message that allows you to select the tip that you’d like to leave. You can see in the screenshot below; the first selection is “No tip” followed by a few other options with the max tip being $5. My simple suggestion is that Starbucks flip the script and add a few more options.

Real-world Example

Before sharing the details on exactly what Starbucks should do, let me set up my suggestion with a real-world study. 

A company in Southern California sold spas and hot tubs with prices ranging from $6,000 to $15,000. Their salespeople typically started the buying process by showing customers the $6000 spa. From there they’d progress to the better models in an attempt to upsell them. The problem with that approach is this; when you start with the $6,000 product, the $15,000 spa seems extremely expensive by comparison.

During a consultation with Robert Cialdini, it was mentioned that people who bought the $15,000 spa loved it. Many said they got more use out of it than some rooms in their homes. Upon learning that honest feedback, Cialdini asked how much would it cost to add an additional room to a home in Southern California? Answered ranged anywhere from $60,000 – $80,000. Bingo! A potential new comparison point!

Cialdini advised the client to have salespeople start the buying process with the $15,000 spa while weaving the room addition question into the conversation. It might go something like this:

Salesperson – “Customers who bought the XP5000 spa love it! In fact, many say they use it as much or more than any room in their house. If you were to add a room to your home how much would that cost?”

Customer – “I don’t know, maybe $60,000 or $70,000.”

Salesperson – “Well here’s some good news. You don’t need to spend $60,000 or $70,000 to get that kind of enjoyment because the XP5000 is only $15,000.”

Suddenly $15,000 seems like a bargain compared to $60,000. And how well did this approach work? In the three months before the consultation, using their old sales approach, the company only sold five high-end spas. But, in the three months following the change in their sales process, 26 high-end spas were sold. That’s an increase of 520%!

And think about this – those who didn’t buy the $15,000 spa were more likely to buy a $12,000 or $10,000 model because those suddenly seem like a deal compared to the most expensive option. In other words, the average spa sale was probably significantly higher versus the old way of selling.

Back to the Tip

If the first thing you see is no tip, you may not choose that because you might feel like a cheapskate. Leaving only $0.50 might still make you feel a bit cheap. Now $1.00 looks like a good tip compared to those options. 

Imagine the first tip you saw was $5, followed by $4, $3, $2, and $1 options, finally ending with “No tip.” Seeing $5 you might think, “No way. That’s too much for the purchase I just made.” However, by comparison the other options start looking more reasonable. The simple act of starting with $5 at the top, is very likely to increase the average tip just like the average sale of the spa went up. 

Something else to consider; the way the app is set up now, $1 is the middle option. People defer to the middle more than the high or low ends. By removing the $.50 option but adding a few more choices, $3 and $2 are now the middle of the road tipping options. This should also be a factor in helping baristas earn better tips. 

How About You?

What I’ve just shared goes beyond tips at Starbucks. Imagine you’re a restaurant owner with a wine list. Starting with the most expensive wines at the top and putting the least expensive at the bottom is very likely to help overall wine sales.

Perhaps you work for an organization that looks for donations. I’ve seen too many times where the smallest amount is the first thing you see and the largest donation amount is the final choice. Again, flipping the script and starting with the higher donation amount then ending with the lowest is likely to bump up average donations.

I hope you can begin to see there are lots of opportunities to incorporate this little bit of psychology to help your sales, good cause, or whatever else you may be involved with. 

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Are We Always Selling, Negotiating, or Persuading?

What is selling? How about negotiating? What’s your definition of persuading? I often hear salespeople say, “We’re always selling.” Of course, negotiators like to say, “Everything is negotiable.”

Where I worked for decades, we had an internal slogan, “Everybody Sells.” It was a great reminder that everything we did mattered. From the mailroom to the boardroom, every action and conversation was building a case for, or against, insurance agents choosing to place their best business with us.

But I must confess, despite working with salespeople and negotiators, I don’t believe we’re always selling, nor do I believe every conversation is a negotiation. The old saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” seems applicable here.

Definitions

How you view selling and negotiating in daily life depends on how you define each. When it comes to selling, the best definition I’ve come across is from sales guru Brian Tracy. Tracy says selling is, “The process of persuading a person that your product or service is of more value to him or her than the price you’re asking.”

Looking at sales through this lens, I’m not trying to “sell” my wife on my ideas. Rather, I’m trying to persuade her to my way of thinking. No goods, services, or compensation are exchanged in those benign, daily conversations we have..

Negotiating is the process of give-and-take, the compromise that’s often needed to reach an acceptable solution between parties. It can occur during a sale, or sometimes it takes place entirely outside of making a sale.

What I appreciate about Brian Tracy’s definition is that he highlights three important truths about selling. First, selling is a process. Second, persuading people is at the core. Third, it’s about demonstrating value.

Process

Selling isn’t winging it. Good salespeople follow a process. The process may look very different depending on what you’re selling but it’s safe to say, almost all selling involves eight steps.

Each step is distinct and merits attention on its own, but many steps can happen at the same time. The steps in the sales cycle include: prospecting, first meeting, qualifying, presenting, dealing with objections, negotiating, closing, and getting referrals.

Persuasion

According to Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, “Persuasion is the art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”Persuasion is about changing behavior and it is something you do every day. 

A baby doesn’t know what persuasion is, but babies are always trying to change parent’s behavior to get their needs met. If you pause to think about it you’ll realize, we’re all persuading every day, from womb to tomb.

Now consider this; there’s no step in selling where persuasion doesn’t come into play. You’re persuading when you attempt to negotiate. You are not going to close a sale if you’re not persuasive. Getting referrals is much easier if you know how to influence someone’s thinking. I could go on but you get the point. Persuasion is the foundation of each step in sales. It won’t matter how good your process may be if you can’t persuade people.

Value

The final consideration in Tracy’s definition of selling is value. As he rightly points out, if somebody believes what you’re offering is worth more to them than the price you’re asking, they’ll view the transaction as a good deal. That makes closing a sale much easier.

It’s incumbent upon salespeople to show the value their product or service has for prospective clients. You can’t always get that understanding by reading a brochure or comparing product specs. Different aspects of influence come into play when demonstrating value, especially how you make comparisons.

Conclusion

I think we need to be careful when we make pronouncements like “We’re always…”, be it selling, negotiating, or something else. Sometimes the people you’re interacting with don’t want to be sold. Many people don’t want to feel like they’re always having to negotiate with you. This is especially true with friends and loved ones. 

Even when it comes to persuasion, you shouldn’t always be looking to do that. Sometimes people just want to have a conversation, a give and take of ideas and experiences.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Quiet Quitting – A New Phenomenon?

Quiet quitting seems to be trending quite a bit lately. If you’re like me, then you might have wondered what quiet quitting is all about. It refers to the position employees take which limits work within defined work hours (i.e. 8 AM – 5 PM), only engaging in work related activities within those hours, and limiting their output only to work they believe they are paid to do.

It’s not about actually quitting a job. It’s about only doing exactly what the job specifies. You may have heard it called “acting your wage.”

When I first heard of quiet quitting, I thought it was ridiculous. Upon reflection, I realized there was a time in my career when I quietly quit.

Here was my scenario.

I was a new underwriter trying to make a name for myself. A coworker went on maternity leave so I agreed to handle her territory in addition to my own. In other words, I voluntarily doubled my workload.

I began to notice others weren’t doing much (sometimes anything) to pitch in. I was the type of employee who was in early and stayed late. My upbringing taught me that you finish what you start. Because I was willing to do extra work, and to do it well, my boss continued to come back to me with more assignments.

After a while I felt like a black hole. I began to notice, rather than work with other employees to develop them, or simply ask them to take on additional work, it was easier for the manager to go back to someone who’d already said yes.

As you might imagine, after a while I burned out – not a new phenomenon. I found myself not taking on any extra work or offering to cover for other people. In other words, I quietly quit. I was only doing what was required of me.

The experience made me realize quiet quitting is nothing new. It’s only more recognizable now because people openly talk about it on social media. When you think about it, there’s nothing quiet about it because so many people are openly broadcasting it.

I believe another factor at this time is the imbalance between employers and employees. Presently there are not enough workers for all the jobs that need to be filled. That means workers have the upper hand in terms of negotiating better salaries and work conditions. This also gives leverage when it comes to denying extra work being foisted upon them.

A Change of Heart

Things won’t always stay this way. Housing markets go up and down based on demand as do many other markets, including the labor market. There will come a time when the tables will turn and getting good paying jobs won’t be as easy as it is at this time. In other words, employers will have the upper hand. When that happens, competition will increase, and I think we’ll see fewer posts about quiet quitting. The people who will have better jobs, get raises, and earn promotions will be the ones who are willing to go above and beyond.

Regarding my quiet quitting, it didn’t last long. When I began to work for a different boss, someone who really understood how to manage teams, there wasn’t an unnecessary burden put on any individual. And because of how he led and treated us, I found myself working just as much as I had when I was covering for the coworker on maternity leave. The difference was, I enjoyed it. I believed in the leader, the work, and the company. It was easy to pour myself into it because I knew what we did made a difference and I was compensated well and saw career advancement.

Conclusion

When it comes to quiet quitting, or dissatisfaction with an employer or boss, be careful what you post online. Remember, what goes on the Internet is permanent and could cause regret in the future it it means missed opportunities. And know this;  the employer – employee tide will turn at some point because it always does.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s new release bestseller. His new book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Quarterly Newsletter

Three Quarters Down … One to go in 2022! In the last newsletter I reminded you, if you were on a sports team you’d have just come out of the locker room for the second half of the game. Well, now you’re in the final quarter. If you’re behind on your goals, start pressing! If you happen to be ahead of your goals, don’t slack off. The “prevent defense” only seems to prevent teams from winning when they employ that strategy.

Remember, a great Q4 not only helps this year, it sets the stage for next year as well. I hope the resources I continue to share in this newsletter help you achieve your professional and personal goals.

Sincerely,

Brian

What’s Influence PEOPLE all about?

  •       Why – Help you achieve more professional success and enjoy more personal happiness.
  •       How – Teach you the science of ethical influence.
  •       What – Speak, write, train, coach, and consult.
  •       Who – Clients include leaders, salespeople, business coaches, insurance professionals, and more.

Here’s What’s New…

Writing

I’ve mentioned  several times in prior newsletters, I’m writing a new book about my relationship with my father. I’m currently working with an editor so the finish line is in sight! I was tentatively going with the title, His Story, My Story, but based on feedback the title will change, just not sure what it will be at this time.

My goal in writing the book is to make it a resource for the Marine Corps for Marines and their families. It’s my hope that it will lead to better relationships between Marines and their loved ones. One piece of exciting news regarding the book is that I have a retired Marine General who has agreed to write the foreword!

The other project that’s consumed my summer was the influence series I concluded in June. Similar to my book, The Influencer, the posts in that series formed a story-based approach to teach readers about influence. The main characters are Pat, a learning manager, and her former college basketball coach, Coach Smith. With help from my book coach, Barbara Grassey, I turned the series into an eBook for new blog subscribers. Because you’ve been with me for a while, I want you to have a copy too. Click on the title to download your free copy of The Game of Influence.

Podcasts

Another half dozen podcasts went online last quarter. I really enjoy podcasts because of the hosts I’ve met, new followers I get, and the opportunity to refine my message. If you like podcasts, links to all 150+ shows I’ve been on are on my website. Here are a couple of recent ones you might want to check out:

  • Heath Shearon invited me back on Insurance Town to talk about The Influencer, my previous books, my favorite books, influence, and the psychology of the sale. Heath brings more energy to podcast than anyone I know. You’ll know what I mean from the moment you start listening. Are you in insurance and/or sales? Then you’ll enjoy this one!
  • Scott Ferguson asked me to join him on Time To Shine Today to discuss sales, success, happiness, coaching, and much more. Like Heath, Scott is high energy so you’ll enjoy this one! Click here to listen, learn, and grow.

Best of…

More recommendations for you to read, listen to, and watch. We’re all different but I  encourage you to be open minded to anything new that will stretch your thinking and challenge your assumptions.

Books

Renovation of the Heart, by Dallas Willard, is about spiritual transformation. Before his passing in 2013, Willard was a professor of philosophy at USC for more than three decades. He combines his understanding of human thinking and behavior with faith in a way that makes so much sense. The best thing I can say about this book, and Willard’s body of work is this; in the same way that Robert Cialdini’s work on influence changed my career trajectory, Willard’s work is having the same impact on my walk with God. I hope that endorsement entices you to look into Renovation of the Heart.

Podcasts

Time To Shine Today is hosted by Scott Ferguson. As noted above, I was a guest on Scott’s show. He is one of the most positive people I’ve met. He usually comes out with one or two shows a week so he has a variety of guests. His creed is simple; he doesn’t want anyone to feel like they have no one. He’s all about getting fired up and leveling up in life! If you’re tired of the everyday humdrum life that you might be living, don’t fret because everyone has been there. Time To Shine Today is a mastermind of people who are always on the lookout to pick up their next step, to add to your success arsenal, and then pay it forward! Get ready to stretch your comfort zone because he and his guests are all about action and Leveling UP every day!

Watch

The Good Place is a Netflix comedy series that stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. It’s a silly show that makes me laugh…a lot! Laughter is good for the soul, especially with all that’s going on in the country and world. Here’s the premise: After her unexpected demise, due to an error, self-absorbed Eleanor Shellstrop (Bell) arrives at the Good Place, which is run by Michael (Danson). She’s determined to stay (the alternative is the bad place!), so she tries to become a better person. There are good underlying messages about motives, actions, and relationships. And get ready for some unexpected twists! I hope you enjoy it as much as Jane and I have.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His new book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

Foursome Fun – An Approach to Raise Money for Good Causes

A couple of weekends ago, my wife hosted a golf outing to benefit Conservation International. Jane works for Integrated Leadership Systems and the owner of her company, Steve Anderson, is passionate about helping to preserve the environment. During her seven years at ILS, Jane has become passionate about the environment too.

A few years ago, she realized she could combine her passion for the environment with her love of golf to host an annual event to raise money for this good cause. This was her fourth outing and each year the number of golfers grows and so does the fundraising.

If you’ve ever played in a golf outing that’s a fundraiser, then you know there are lots of opportunities to help a good cause. Most of the opportunities come by way of paying to play certain games in hopes of bettering your team’s score.

I ran one of the games for Jane. As each foursome approached the tee box, I jokingly said, “I want two things; a group picture and your money.” That always got a laugh. After taking a picture of the foursome, I’d ask if they would like to take a chance on possibly improving their score on the hardest hole on the course.

The Game

Everyone was intrigued so I explained the game. I had a bag with 10 poker chips. One of the chips represented an eagle (two under par for the hole), there were two chips for birdies (one under par), there were five pars (what they should shoot on the hole), and two bogeys (one over par which is not good).

If you do the math, there’s a 30% chance of guaranteeing a score better than par. I’d ask if they would like to pay $10 to reach into the bag and pull out one chip. Knowing they had almost a one in three chance of assuring themselves of an under-par score on the hardest hole, everyone agreed to give it a try.

Salesmanship came in after they pulled the first chip. The vast majority of teams didn’t pull an eagle or a birdie as you would expect because the odds were not in their favor. Then I asked if they would be interested in taking another chance if I cut the price in half, only asking for $5 for a second pull. That’s a better deal and their odds of getting a good score went up a little because now there were only nine chips in the bag. Everyone took me up on that offer.

If they didn’t pull the eagle on that second try, I had one more opportunity. Even if they’d pulled a birdie chip, I let them know that they now had a one in eight chance of getting the eagle. If they’d been unlucky enough to have pulled pars or bogeys on their first two tries then they were still hoping they might better their score with a birdie or eagle (a three in seven chance now!). To really sweeten the deal, my third sales approach was letting them have two pulls from the bag for just $5.

As you might imagine, the only groups who didn’t agree to my third offer were the ones who had pulled the eagle on either the first or second try. Everyone else, having sunk a little money into the game, and realizing that their odds we’re improving, said yes to my final offer.

A total of 15 groups came through, all played, and more than $300 in cash was collected for a good cause. There were lots of laughs and most groups ended up with a birdie or eagle.

The Approach

Think about my approach. I could have asked for $20 right off the bat and I’m sure a good number of groups would have agreed to that. Of course, they would have felt like they wasted their money if they’d pulled the eagle on the first try. I’m also pretty sure many groups would have decline paying $20 so it’s very likely I would not have collected as much money.

I’m sure you realize by now that my approach was still $20 for four pulls. But, how I went about making the offer made a big difference in terms of the willingness to play the game. The first pull for $10 seemed reasonable. Having a half price opportunity on the second attempt was too good to pass up. Getting a two-for-one opportunity on the final try was a great deal by comparison, especially when the odds of getting the eagle or birdie improved significantly!

How Does This Apply to You?

I share my approach to alert you to this reality; how you make your offer can make all the difference between hearing yes and hearing no. This goes beyond simple game at a golf outing. It applies to the goods or services that you sell. Understanding how people make comparisons, then structuring your deal to show the most value will help you win more often than not.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s new release bestseller. His new book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!