Quarterly Newsletter

Most people would say 2020 and first quarter started great. We saw record highs in the stock market, record lows on unemployment and low interest rates to name just a few of the economic metrics. Life was prosperous for manyAmericans and people around the world. Then suddenly it came to a halt with Covid-19.

The pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime as is the unfolding economic fallout. Between the collective intelligence of humanity and unparalleled technology I have faith the pandemic will end sooner rather than later. How quickly economies bounce back is anyone’s guess.

As someone who typically interacts with small groups and large audiences I fully understand the impact of all of this. My TED Talk was only a week away when it got canceled and other opportunities are on hold as we wait to see how things will play out. However, I choose to look for opportunity. I’m focusing on my health – mental, physical and spiritual – in ways I did not before the stay at home order. I hope you’re looking for what could be, not what isn’t or was. It’s a choice we all have to make.

Be safe and stay healthy!

Brian

What’s Influence PEOPLE all about?

  • Why – Help you enjoy more professional success and personal happiness.
  • How – Teach you the science of ethical influence.
  • What – Speak, write, train, coach and consult.
  • Who – We work primarily with leaders, salespeople. coaches and attorneys.

Despite the economics we’re facing I’m still excited when I go to bed and when I wake up. My opportunity to do something I’m passionate about, something that helps people professionally and personally, still exists. Now I have to rethink how I will do it. One think I’m doing is exploring technology like Zoom to interact with people. No matter how things unfold, I believe technology that reduces travel and in-person interactions will become even more important in the future.

Here’s What’s New

Blog Posts

While most of my blogging revolves around helping people understand how to ethically influence people, lately I’ve focused more broadly on psychology and how it impacts our perceptions of our current situation. Click here to see some of those recent posts.

Podcasts

I was a guest on another dozen podcasts to start the year. Some were insurance related, some dealt with career change and others were straight up influence for new audiences. Now is as good a time as any to invest 30 minutes to learn how to influence people. To see the recent podcast click here.

LinkedIn Learning

I now have four LinkedIn Learning courses online. Nearly 100,000 people have participated in the learning. If you want to learn about the intersection of influence in sales, dealing with personality styles and coaching then check out the courses. Click here to watch a short preview of each course.

Best of…

Looking for interesting content? Because you may have more time on your hands with the pandemic self-quarantining, why not put some of that time to good use learning? Below are some great books to read, podcasts to listen to, and shows to watch.

Books

Adversaries into Allies by Bob Burg. Burg’s most well-known book is The Go-Giver and Adversaries into Allies is not far behind. If you’re looking for great common sense approaches to dealing with people then this book is for you. As I read it I felt like I was reading a modern day version of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. I’ve been a fan of Gallo ever since reading The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. In this book Gallo dissects some of the most watched TED Talks to distill them into 9 considerations for anyone giving a TED Talk. But his findings go further than the TED stage because anyone who presents to groups will benefit from this book.

Podcasts

Behavioral Grooves has been featured before. It’s co-hosted by Kurt Nelson and Tim Houlihan. In addition to their great rapport they have smart, interesting guests. Currently they’re featuring behavioral scientists who share thoughts and strategies for coping during the pandemic. You will laugh and learn whenever you listen to Kurt, Tim and their guests.

In the Arena is a hosted by Anthony Iannarino. I’ve known Anthony for more than a decade and can tell you he’s wicked smart, very funny and he KNOWS about sales. He’s been blogging daily for more than a decade. If you watch deep, concentrated sales learning then check out In the Arena.

Watch

Quark Science can be viewed on Amazon Prime. There are half a dozen episodes that look at topics such as sound, dark matter, the space-time continuum, where did we come from and much more. It breaks complicated subjects down in interesting, easy to understand visuals and language. Fascinating stuff!

They Shall Not Grow Old is a 2018 film now on Amazon Prime. The movie looks at World War I by taking original film and digitizing it with color and sound. Suddenly people in those films no longer live in the silence of black and white film. They walk and talk almost as if filmed only a few years ago. It was amazing how it brought that time period to life. I highly encourage you to spend an hour and a half with this film some evening.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

Man, this sucks! Sucks compared to what?

Across most of the nation, and much of the world, people are self-quarantining. In some cases, the quarantine is imposed by government order. In either case, some people are complaining, “Man, this sucks!” I’d like to offer a different viewpoint and ask, “Sucks compared to what?”

Nelson Mandela

The late Nelson Mandela, statesman and leader of South Africa’s movement to abolish apartheid, spent 27 years in prison. That’s a long time to be quarantined! Early on some of his imprisonment was isolation in an 8×7 ft cell where he slept on a straw bed on the floor.

Mandela spent much of his time studying, writing and continuing to advance the cause for freedom and equality for blacks in South Africa. Perhaps we should adopt the same stance regarding our free time right now and do things to actively improve ourselves.

Viktor Frankl

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’ve undoubtedly seen many references to, and quotes from, Viktor Frankl. That’s so because his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is one of the most impacting books I’ve ever read.

Frankl spent three years in Nazi concentration camps. How did he survive the horrors? By focusing his mind. He believed one day he’d be a free man and chose to imagine dinners with his wife, giving lectures on what he learned, and to appreciate the beautiful things in life like flowers and sunsets.

Despite his incarceration he came to the realization that everything could be taken away from him except the freedom to choose where he would place his thoughts. And with that core belief he suddenly realized he was freer than the guards who monitored his every move at the concentration camps. We’d all do well to adopt Frankl’s mindset.

John McCain

Senator John McCain was shot down during the Vietnam War and spend five and a half years as a prisoner. At first, he wasn’t even given any medical treatment for the injuries he sustained. Soon thereafter he was subjected to torture.

McCain had an opportunity for release less than a year into captivity but refused unless all the men he was imprisoned with were released too. That meant nearly five more years of imprisonment.

Consider this; we’re told to simply stay apart for our own well-being and the well-being of our fellow citizens. McCain chose to stay with his fellow soldiers at a great personal cost to himself and those who wanted him home. That’s a hero.

Our “Imprisonment”

Frankl, Mandela and McCain are extremes when it comes to imprisonment but they are hardly alone in the course of history. They could not access any of the comforts so many of us enjoy at this very moment.

  • Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and other television apps afford us 24x7x365 entertainment of any kind.
  • We have access to news, books, games, email, work and countless other things to occupy our time, educate ourselves and in some cases, continue working.
  • Zoom, Skype, Google Meets and other technologies allow us to communication face to face with each other.
  • We still have access to goods and food delivered to our doorsteps.

Conclusion

For many reasons the global pandemic sucks. The biggest reason is that people are dying who otherwise may have lived much longer lives. Millions are getting sick which, even when they recover, presents its own hardships. And the economic toll – lost jobs and businesses – across the globe is terrible.

But, considering what many people have endured over time, what we’re going through doesn’t suck so much in comparison.

To Do This Week

Take stock of what you have, not what you’re missing, and be thankful. Use your time wisely. Here are a handful of easy things you can do:

  1. If you have family at home use this is a unique opportunity to spend quality time together. Don’t waste it! Jane and I have made it a point to take walks together every day. What are you doing differently?
  2. Get on LinkedIn Learning, Coursea and other online providers to sharpen your skills. Download a book or start listening to podcasts. You have more time so how will you use it?
  3. Use this time to reconnect with people. I’ve reconnected with my friend Marco Germani who lives outside of Rome. Once a week we jump on Zoom and keep each other up to date about what’s going on in our parts of the world. What person would you like to reconnect with?
  4. Give thanks. Despite the self-isolation you can still order food and other goods as noted earlier. Imagine how much harder this would seem without Amazon and other home delivery! What are you thankful for in the midst of this?
  5. Get creative. People are having virtual cocktail parties using technology. I’ve participated in a few and they’re fun. Jane and I give each other silly gifts every day and post of Facebook so our friends can laugh. What’s one creative thing you can do to pass each day?

Compared to earlier this year, things seem like they suck. Stepping back and looking at what others have had to endure, things don’t seem so bad. Make the right comparison and you’ll feel much better about where you are right now.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

Do You Have Faith?

Do you have faith? I do. My perspective on faith comes from my Christian worldview. The Bible defines faith as follows; “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) From there the chapter goes on to list people who lived by faith.

Examples of Faith

We all exercise some degree of faith daily. Maybe you call it belief but whatever you call it, you enter situations all the time not knowing the outcome. For example; I know airplanes fly but I don’t know exactly how. Despite not knowing, every time I get in a plane I have faith I will get where I’m going safely. You have faith:

  • That other drivers won’t drive on the wrong side of the road and cause an accident when you’re on the highway.
  • When you put a letter in the mailbox and assume it will get to the intended address.
  • That Google is giving you valid search results.

Call it faith, belief, trust or something else, we operate the majority of life by this concept.

Cause for Concern

Given the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in there’s great cause for concern. People may lose their jobs and some already have. There will be businesses that go under if this lasts much longer. Bank accounts may be depleted and retirement savings are shriveling away as markets constrict.

Most importantly, many people have lost their lives and that will continue for some period of time. The list goes on and on when it comes to the ramifications of the pandemic.

The State of the Nation in 1939

I was not alive during World War II but I’ve read a lot about it and watched countless documentaries. Here are a few things that stand out for me regarding the state of our nation when war broke out in 1939.

  • The United States was wholly unprepared for war because our military was small, untested and outdated.
  • We were still in a decade long depression and seemingly did not have the financial resources to get ready for war.
  • There was division among our citizens – those who wanted to remain isolated and those who felt we needed to help our allies.
  • We had a controversial president who was disliked by nearly half the country because they felt his policies were not helping us economically or socially.

If you know about this time in American history there are perhaps other things that stand out for you. Unprepared and uncertainty are two words that come to mind when thinking back on that time.

The State of the Nation Now

There seem to be many parallels between 1939 and 2020.

  • The United States is wholly unprepared to fight a pandemic. This includes supplies and technology.
  • While we were in the midst of the greatest economic boom in the history of the nation in January, we may slip into a depression very soon.
  • There is division among our citizens – those who want to move towards isolationist policies and those who feel we needed to be more open with the world.
  • We have a controversial president who is disliked by half the country because they feel his policies have not helped us economically or socially.

As I noted in the previous section, perhaps different things that stand out for you as you consider the state of things at this moment in time.

Why I Have Faith

Despite the gloom and doom we currently hear from the media and see on social media, what stands out above all else was our response to WWII. We came together as a nation and defeated a common enemy. Now we have an opportunity to do the same.

  • During WWII whole industries worked with the government to meet the demands for war. We’re beginning to see that.
  • Amazing new technologies were invented out of necessity. We have that chance today.
  • In the early 1940s there was still controversy about the right path to pursue but once the course was set Americans fell in line because of what was at stake. The more we voluntarily do that now (i.e. social distancing and self-quarantining) the less need there will be for government imposition on our lives.

Conclusion

We live in the most unique time in human existence. Our technological advances and interconnectedness have allowed society to flourish in ways never seen before in history. But, our prosperity is also fragile in many respects. We’re seeing that in real time as markets quickly unravel and jobs are being lost.

Here’s the good news; those same things – our collective intelligence and technology – that allowed us to flourish will help us bounce back faster than ever!

And now for some encouragement; on the heels of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic America rebounded and entered an unprecedented time of prosperity known as “The Roaring 20s.” I have faith we can do that again.

To Do This Week

Beyond encouragement what can you do? Here are a handful of things that involve making simple choices:

  1. Do your part. Stay at home as much as possible and consciously keep distance when possible. In other words, put the well-being of others ahead of yourself.
  2. Remain social. Use Facetime, Zoom, Skype and other technology to check in on people and maintain your social connections.
  3. Positive Mental Attitude. Maintaining a positive mental attitude will help you and everyone you’re around. Plan to do things you’ll look forward to.
  4. We are more consumed than ever with work, technology and other demands. If things have slowed for you, use some of that time to reflect on the good things in your life.
  5. Have faith. We’ve faced huge obstacles in the past and we have overcome. There’s no reason to believe we cannot to the same this time.

Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, survived three years in Nazi concentration camps. One of his profound insights through the ordeal was this; “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Choose faith!

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

7 Deadly Sins When Trying to Influence PEOPLE

I just celebrated my 12th anniversary partnering with INFLUENCE AT WORK, the organization headed up by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. Cialdini, sometimes called “the Godfather of influence”, is the most cited living social psychologist on the planet when it comes to the science of influence. I have the privilege of being one of only two dozen people worldwide to have been personally trained and certified by Cialdini to teach his methodology when it comes to influence.

During my years working with people I’ve run into countless times where I’ve seen salespeople, marketers, leaders and many others incorrectly use the principles of influence. Here’s why it’s a big problem – when people use the principles incorrectly they don’t see the results they expect. That failure leads to, “Yea, it sounds good when he says it but it doesn’t work in real life.”

Trust me, used ethically and correctly, the principles of influence will move more people to act. There’s seven decades of research to back up that statement. To help you avoid that pitfall I want to share the 7 deadly sins – one for each principle – I see when people attempt to use the psychology of persuasion.

Liking

We all know it’s easier to say yes to those we know and like. Whether you’re in sales, coaching or leadership, the more someone likes you the more likely they are to follow your advice.

  • Mistake. Knowing this, people work too hard to get others to like them. They end up coming across like a desperate salesman who will say or do anything to close the sale.
  • Solution. Stop trying to get people to like you. Instead, try to like the people you’re with. As others sense you genuinely like and care for them, they will be far more likely to say yes to you.

Unity

Unity is about shared identity. We when see another person as one of us, saying yes to them is like saying yes to ourselves.

  • Mistake. People think this is the principle of liking on steroids. With that thought, they try harder than ever to connect on what they have in common.
  • Solution. Unity isn’t always available but when it is, tap into it. Do some homework to find out if you share something deep with the others person. It may be that you served in the same branch of the military, were in the same fraternity or sorority, or happened to share the same cultural heritage.

Reciprocity

From the time we’re young we’re taught that when someone does something for us we’re expected to do something in return. Help someone first and they’re likely to help you in return.

  • Mistake. I see marketers blow this one all the time. They encourage people to give a free gift after someone does something like sign up for a newsletter. That’s not reciprocity, that’s offering a reward as inducement and there’s a big difference.
  • Solution. Encourage people to take advantage of a free offer then, after they’ve done so, you can ask for something in return. “I hope you enjoy the free article! In fact, I hope you enjoy it so much you’ll want to sign up for our newsletter to learn even more. Click here to do so.”

Consensus

Humans are pack animals. Over the course of history, we’ve learned there’s safety in numbers and “everyone can’t be wrong.” Generally, it works well for us to follow the crowd.

  • Mistake. Thinking highlighting a big number is all that’s needed. For example, telling incoming college freshman 65% of students cheat (I made that up) in order to highlight the problem only encourages more cheating, making the problem worse.
  • Solution. Think about the behavior you want then emphasize stats that will encourage the desirable behavior. “College cheating has been on the decline each of the last five years,” would be a good message to encourage less cheating and get the behavior you’re hoping for.

Authority

People will listen to perceived experts, and follow their advice, far more often than they will someone whom they know nothing about.

  • Mistake. Don’t wait until the end of your talk or meeting to highlight your expertise. By that time people may have tuned you out.
  • Solution. Whether it’s a presentation or running a meeting, let people know your credentials up front. If possible, have someone introduce you for even more credibility. This approach causes people to listen more closely early on and likely throughout your presentation.

Consistency

People tend to feel better about themselves when their words and deeds match. As little pleasure seekers and pain avoiders this is a powerful principle.

  • Mistake. Too many people tell others what to do and think they’ve engaged the principle of consistency. When you tell someone what to do you’ve not triggered the psychology of wanting word and deed to match.
  • Solution. Stop telling people what to do and start asking. When you ask and someone says “Yes” they’re far more likely to follow through on their word because they don’t want to feel bad and look bad.

Scarcity

It’s a natural human tendency to want we can’t have or whatever might be going away. We hate the thought of having missed out on something.

  • Mistake. Manufacturing false scarcity will hurt your credibility. Don’t use the worn out line, “If you sign today I can save you 15% but I can’t offer you this deal after today.” Seldom is that true and people have learned to see through it.
  • Solution. If scarcity isn’t available, don’t manufacture it. If it is naturally available use it but don’t come across in a fear mongering, scare tactic way. “I’d hate for you to miss out on this opportunity,” is more effective than, “You really should take advantage of this deal.” It’s a subtle difference that can make all the difference.

BONUS! Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast isn’t actually one of the 7 principles of influence. It’s a psychological concept that’s always available because people are always making comparisons. Knowing this, it deserves mention.

  • Mistake. Too often people make the wrong comparison. In sales this happens when people try to “upsell” customers. The problem is, once you’ve seen a low number it becomes an anchor and all other numbers seem bigger by comparison as you try to upsell. Not exactly what you want when trying to close a sale.
  • Solution. Present your best solution, product or service first. You never know, the other person might just say yes. If they don’t, you have options to retreat to and when you do so, the price on those options looks better by comparison.

Conclusion

The principles of influence describe how people typically think and behave. Consider them communication tools and, like any tool, they’re only as good as the person who wields it. You may know how to use a saw and hammer but that doesn’t make you a carpenter. The same goes with the principles. Knowing and wielding them correctly (and ethically) are two different things.

To Do This Week

  1. Give these mistakes thought.
  2. Ask yourself if you’ve made any of these mistakes.
  3. Commit to keep learning and growing.

Do those three things and you will have more people saying yes to you more often.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, uttered those words in 1932, during his first inaugural address. The American people were scared because of the stock market crash and subsequent depression. When FDR spoke, it didn’t look like things were going to get better any time soon. It strikes me that we’re at a similar crossroad in terms of national fear and it started last week.

Coronavirus

The spread of the coronavirus has grabbed headlines around the word. As of February 27, according to CNN.com there were more than 82,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide and the deaths attributed to it were estimated to be 2,800.

Did you know the death toll from influenza was nearly 100,000 over the last two years? And that was only in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Total deaths over the last nine years have been approximately 335,000 in the U.S.!

Compare that to 1918, when the Spanish Flu pandemic touched the lives of almost 1/3rd of the world’s population, killing an estimated 700,000 Americans, and 20-50 million people worldwide. Wow!

Stock Market Free Fall

On February 12, the stock market was at 29,550 but fell to 25,409 by the close of trading on February 28 (Yahoo Finance). Last week was the worst week for the stock market since 2008. Ouch! That hurts a lot of people – not just millionaires and billionaires – because of the all the retirement savings invested in the markets.

Given the comparatively small death toll at this point, why is there so much panic in the markets? Here are a number of issues:

  1. Connected world. Even though the vast majority of the coronavirus cases are in China, a tremendous amount of goods for the global supply chain come from China. Without those goods, manufacturing around the world slows down followed by sales and profits.
  2. Reduced travel. As people become more afraid they travel less which hurts a huge part of the global economy including hotels, cruises, airlines and all the businesses that benefit from tourism and business travel.
  3. Instant news. Decades ago we’d find out what the market did when we turned on the nightly news. Now you can literally see the stock market change second by second on some news channels and apps. Watching those numbers all day long is not good for your stress level or investment strategy.
  4. Easy transmission. Because we can be almost anywhere in the world within 24 hours, viruses and disease spread faster than ever. That adds to the fear that this virus could make its way across the globe very quickly.

The Biggest Issue

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman said, “Nothing is as important as you think it is, while you’re thinking about it.” When our limited attention gets focused on whatever is front and center for us, we cannot see the forest for the trees. We lose perspective and in the process our decision making suffers.

Right now, with the 24×7 news cycle and availability of instant updates our attention is focused on the coronavirus and its potential health and economic affects more than ever. You can’t turn on any news or financial station without the coronavirus dominating everything. People in tunnel vision gripped by fear and doubt usually don’t make wise decisions. In essence, we often compound our own problems and fears.

Conclusion

Roosevelt was right in many respects. We can become our biggest enemies when we let our fears dominate our thoughts and actions. It’s only natural because our brains are wired for survival. However, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s always most optimal.

To Do This Week

  1. Take a break from the news. The story hardly changes hour to hour, morning to night, and day to day so why hype yourself up with anxiety?
  2. Don’t’ keep looking at the stock market. You can’t change it so it might depress you in the short term. Remember, it has always bounced back so why wouldn’t you trust that it will again?
  3. Keep the numbers in perspective. We don’t know how this will play out but I’m comforted by the fact that we have so many more medical resources, financial resources and technology at our disposal than the world did in 1918.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

The Data Tells The Story…Not!

I was listening to a podcast recently and the guest said, “The data tells the story.” I would contend it’s not the data that tells the story but rather, how the data is presented. Let me share several examples.

Unhealthy Big Macs

In Made to Stick, authors Chip and Dan Heath shared a story about how unhealthy movie popcorn was back in the 1990s. A medium sized bucket contained 37 grams of saturated fat. While that sounded unhealthy, people basically said, “So what?” Even when informed it was almost twice as much as the USDA recommended daily allowance of 20 grams, people response was still, “So what?”

It wasn’t until “the data” was put into a visual that people sat up and took notice. During a press conference at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it was conveyed, along with a visual, “A medium sized ‘butter’ popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theater contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-egg breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings – combined!” You don’t have to be a doctor or fitness expert to understand how unhealthy that picture is!

Tax Increases

Several years ago, there was debate over a potential increase in the state tax for Illinois residents. It was a whopping 66% increase according to opponents. However, supporters said it was only a 2% increase. And, as strange as it may sound, both sides were right!

At the time, the state tax was 3% and the proposal was to increase it to 5%. So, it was raising the tax two percentage points. But, looking at the change from 3% to 5% represented a 66% increase in what Illinois residents would pay.

It was literally two sides of the same coin…that the state wanted!

Carbon Emissions

I saw a news story last week with the headline U.S. Sets Record in Reducing Carbon Emissions. Given that we stepped away from the Paris Accord it caught my attention. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA):

“The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9 percent, to 4.8 Gt. U.S. emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period.”

The counterfactual was as follows:

“It’s true that, according to the IEA’s February 2020 report, the U.S. achieved a greater absolute reduction in CO2 emissions than any other country, in 2019. However, claims that the U.S. therefore ‘led the entire world’ or was a ‘global leader’ in CO2 emissions were belied by the fact that other countries (including Germany, Japan, and likely others) achieved a superior rate of reduction in CO2 emissions. Although not a country, the European Union achieved both a larger absolute reduction and a greater rate of reduction in CO2 emissions than the US did.”

This is analogous to the Illinois state tax. It depends on how you view it; in absolute or relative terms. No matter how you view this one, a reduction is a good thing.

National Debt

Is a million dollars a lot of money? I’m guessing all of my readers would say it is. Is a trillion dollars a lot of money? I know everyone would agree that’s a lot of money! Did you know our national debt is over $23 trillion now? Do you realize how big that number actually is? Probably not so let me give you some perspective:

If the U.S. national debt grew no larger starting today, and we could pay it down by one million dollars a day, every single day, any idea how long it would take to pay it off?

Just over 63,000 years. Yes, you read that right, it would take 63,000 years to pay off the national debt if we reduce it by a million dollars a day. We hear about numbers on the news – data – all the time and have no clue as to what those numbers really mean for us.

Conclusion

I could go on and on with examples like these. I hope you see my point – the data doesn’t tell the story. The presentation of the data tells the story. And, how that data is presented always comes with an agenda.

To Do This Week

Start looking critically at what’s being presented and how it’s being presented, especially in the news. Never forget, every news outlet has a bias so carefully consider what’s being presented and ask why it’s being present the way it is.

We’re coming up on a presidential election, a time when all candidates on both sides make big promises. Do a little research, find out what’s being promised and whether or not those promises as truly feasible. I think in most cases you’ll conclude they’re not.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

From Womb to Tomb Each of Us is a Persuader

From womb to tomb, each of us uses the skill of persuasion throughout our lifetime. As soon as babies come into the world they cry because they want to be held, fed, burped or changed. They don’t understand they’re engaging the skill we call persuasion, but they know they have a need and they want it met! Persuading others to act is one big way each of us seeks to get our needs met every day.

What is Persuasion?

Persuasion is more than changing hearts or minds, it’s ultimately about changing behaviors. Aristotle put it best when he said persuasion was, “The art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

If someone is already doing what you want then persuasion isn’t necessary. However, if someone isn’t doing what you need them to do then how you communicate might make all the difference between yes and no. But doesn’t this border on manipulation?

Persuasion vs. Manipulation

Persuasion differs from manipulation in that manipulation is one sided. The manipulator doesn’t care about the other person. Manipulators only focus on what’s good for them.

Persuasion on the other hand carefully considers the other person, their wants, needs, desires and goals. Ethical persuaders focus on three very important things.

  1. Win-win. Ethical persuaders look to create mutually beneficial outcomes. I like to say, “Good for you, good for me, then we’re good to go!”
  2. Ethical persuaders tell the truth and they don’t hide the truth. By being truthful to a fault they build trust with everyone they interact with.
  3. Ethical persuaders only use psychology that’s natural to the situation. For example, if scarcity doesn’t exists they don’t falsely create it.

Relationships are the Foundation

It’s a well-established fact that people prefer to say yes to those they know and like. The mistake most people make in relationship building is focusing on getting others to like them. Getting others to like you can be effective and it’s not difficult to do. Two simple ways to make this happen are to focus on what you have in common and pay sincere compliments.

It’s very natural for us to like people we view as similar to us. For example, if you and I find out we grew up in the same hometown, went to the same college or cheer for the same team, you will like me more. Along the same lines; if I pay you a genuine compliment you’ll feel good about me and like me more. Nothing new here.

While there’s certainly benefit to that approach I’ve learned there’s a much better way. Cultivate the following mindset: I want to like the other person. And here’s some great news – the very same things that will make you like me will make me like you. In other words, when I find out we grew up in the same hometown, went to the same college, or cheer for the same team, I will like you more. If I pay you genuine compliments I will see you as a good person and I will like you more.

This is a game changer because when you sense deep down that I truly like you – and I do – you become much more open to whatever I may ask of you. Why? Because deep down we all believe friends to right by friends.

No More Manipulation

Here’s where manipulation is all but removed from the equation – the more I come to like you the more I want what’s best for you. Now my attempts to persuade you come from a place of wanting the best for you and you receive it that way. We have a virtuous cycle that’s good for you and good for me.

The subtle shift from getting others to like you, to becoming a person who likes the people you work with, naturally makes you the kind of person others want to be around and work alongside. In other words, you become the preferred teammate.

Keys to Ethical Persuasion

The following principles are scientifically proven to help you be more persuasive. The science is based on more than 70 years of research from social psychology and more recently behavioral economics. Let’s briefly look at each principle.

Liking. The principle of liking was just described in detail above. Coming to like others will cause them to like you and will make it easier to persuade them because you’ll want what’s in their best interest.

Reciprocity. When you give, people will naturally want to give in return. I help you, you help me and we’re both better off. Remember, because I’ve come to like you, my giving is from a place of goodness, wanting to help you in ways that will be beneficial to you.

Social Proof. The actions of others impact how we think feel and behave. It’s why we’re drawn to “best sellers” and “most popular” opportunities. If others like you prefer something, it’s a good bet you’ll feel the same and be willing to follow their lead.

Authority. We feel better following the lead of experts. The more you establish yourself as an expert or the more you bring credible expertise into your communication the easier it will be for someone to follow your advice.

Consistency. Most people feel better about themselves when their words and deeds align. Telling someone what to do is never as effective as asking because psychologically, once someone responds saying they’ll do something, they’re more like to follow through. That’s because they want to feel good about themselves and look good in your eyes.

Scarcity. It’s natural for us to want things more when we believe they’re rare or going away. But the key is knowing that. By honestly telling someone about an opportunity that might not be available soon, or what they may lose if they don’t follow your advice, they’re more likely to act.

Full Circle

I used the term “virtuous cycle” earlier. Ethical persuaders understand this and take the long view when it comes to working with people. They recognize it starts with relationship. The stronger the relationship the easier everything becomes thereafter.

I often ask people; is it critical to your professional success that you understand how to get more people to say yes more often? The answer there is always a resounding yes! They also recognize the importance yes plays at home. After all, things tend to be more peaceful and happier at home when those around you willingly say yes.

By studying the influence process and psychological triggers that lead to yes you will enjoy more success at the office, happiness at home and be the kind of person others want to work with.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling gAmazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

Is the System Broken?

“May you live in interesting times,” is said to be an ancient Chinese curse. While there’s no documented proof of the Chinese origin, one could say we are cursed to live in such a time in American politics.

With the acquittal of President Trump by the Senate last week, people who wanted to see him convicted are crying foul and claim the system doesn’t work. However, Trump supporters thought the system worked just fine.

Go back several months and it was Trump supports who emphatically said the impeachment vote in Congress showed the system didn’t work. Of course, the Democrats felt the process in Congress worked exactly as our founding fathers intended.

We see instances of similar divides continually. When O.J. Simpson was acquitted (the glove didn’t fit) in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman many people said it was a travesty of justice because of the seeming mountain of evidence against him. Others praised the decision for a variety of reasons.

Many years later the tables were turned when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. There was public outrage by many Americans but there were also plenty of George Zimmerman supporters.

How can groups of people see things so differently? As is so often the case, viewpoints are split along racial lines, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political parties and other groups.

The problem is, we can’t judge the system simply based on the decisions it hands down. The Supreme Court isn’t only right when it votes the way you or I think it should. And, it’s not wrong when it goes against how you or I see the facts. If that were the case then you and I, without all the facts, legal background and constitutional knowledge, would be the final arbiters of good and bad, right and wrong, not the Supreme Court.

Our system of justice, including recent political proceedings, is flawed because it was created by flawed human beings. And it gets more flawed because imperfect, biased human beings ultimately render the decisions.

No matter what any judge, jury, attorney or politician may claim, biases do come into play in every decision. There’s no such thing as an impartial juror because, by definition, you’re not even aware of your hidden biases. This is why many outwardly good, well-meaning people, are shocked when someone points out what they said or did was somewhat racist, homophobic or misogynistic. They didn’t intend to be and they had no idea what they said or did was offensive. Do you think that reality stops with elected officials or jurors? Of course not!

There was no better example of status quo bias than the recent senate decision on President Trump. This was the third time in American history that a president stood trial in the senate after being impeached by congress. In those three instances there were a total of seven charges brought up against those presidents (Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump). In all that time only one person ever voted against his or her party’s president to convict. That’s 1 vote out of 223 possible votes cast from senators whose party president was on trial.

The fact that republican Senator Mitt Romney voted against his party to convict Donald Trump is hailed by Democrats as some sort of victory. However, you can also easily conclude the whole process is clearly partisan. It’s not designed to get to the truth because if it was there would certainly be a more diverse vote than the strictly party line voting we’ve seen in each case.

Conclusion

A few votes the other way last week and the anger at the system would be flipped. The same goes for many Supreme Court decisions. And this blog post would be just as relevant!

As noted earlier, our justice system was created by flawed people and decisions within that framework are handed down by flawed people. Compound that with the reality that we have an addiction to being right. How do we change it? The first step is to acknowledge we have a problem. While our current system may be the best devised so far, we should always look for ways to improve it with one goal – getting to the truth.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

Don’t Memorize, Internalize. Embrace, Anticipate, Practice!

At a recent sales training event I encouraged attendees; don’t memorize, internalize. These were salespeople and we were talking about how to deal with objections whenever they arise. The key with objections is to embrace them. After all, if you’re in sales then objections are part of the game just like running is part of soccer or jumping is essential in basketball. Nobody would start playing soccer and complain about all the running. Likewise, no one would take up basketball if they didn’t like jumping. Now apply that thought process to sales and dealing with objections.

No surprises here

If you’ve been selling for any length of time you face the same objections over and over. Sure, there are rare case something new is tossed at you but the vast majority of the time there’s no surprise when an objection is lobbed your way.

I recall when I was learning hapkido (Korean version of aikido, think Steven Segal) every offensive attack move I attempted, the black belt I was working with had a counter move that would break my wrist, elbow or arm. No punch I threw at him caught him off guard.

You’re in control

With objections the ball is in your court so to speak because when you know what to expect you’re actually in control. Consider this; if you were playing a competitive sport and had an answer for every move you opponent might make there’s no way you’d lose!

Back to hapkido; because I could not surprise my black belt opponent he was always calm in control. That allowed him to stay focused on what needed to be done to protect himself and subdue me.

You have answers

You can’t control other people but you can control yourself. Not only do you know what’s coming, which allows you to stay in control, you should know exactly how you’re going to respond.

As noted previously, the black belt I was working with had a counter to every move I made. His counters, if fully executed, would have quickly ended the confrontation and because of the damage he could do it was scary stuff.

Practice you moves

There’s nothing worse than dealing with a salesperson or customer service rep who gives pat answers that sound like a bad telemarketer who mindlessly memorized a script. Even worse might be the person who obviously doesn’t care because “they’ve heard it a thousand times before.”

My black belt friend needed more than knowledge of what I would do and how he would respond. He needed to be really good at his response in order to protect himself and end the confrontation. That meant countless hours of practice on his moves.

Conclusion

You may not be in sales but you’re sure to run into objections in your career. Those objections may be to a project you’re proposing, training you believe is needed, budget approval or any number of other initiatives. Knowing this you need to be embrace the reality of objections, anticipate them and practice your responses. The better you get at this the more likely you are to get the approval you need.

To Do This Week

Take time to write down the five most common objections you face. Next, think about how you might incorporate the principles of influence into your responses to make it easier to hear yes. Then begin to practice your responses out loud.

Two principles that are excellent when it comes to dealing with objections are social proof and authority.

  1. The more you are viewed as an expert or invoke expertise (principle of authority) the easier it will be to get beyond the objection.
  2. Tapping into social proof, what many or similar others are doing, is often an indicator that the person or group you’re trying to influence might want to consider doing the same.

Remember, just like my black belt friend, anticipate, practice and respond. Don’t memorize, internalize so your responses become and authentic part of who you are.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by almost 90,000 people around the world!

PS That’s a picture of me with our daughter Abigail at Taekwondo.

Persuasion: Your Key to Professional Success and Personal Happiness

Persuasion is more than changing hearts and minds, it’s about changing behavior. Aristotle said as much when he told the world persuasion was, “the art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.” Whether you want someone to buy from you, your boss to approve your project, get a promotion, or just get your kids to do their homework, persuasion is the skill that can help you achieve those goals and more.

We Need People…

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said, “Nearly everything I’ve accomplished in life has been with other people.” It didn’t matter how good Jack’s vision or strategies were if he couldn’t persuade people to execute. People are vital to your professional success and personal happiness so understanding how to ethically influence people is an essential skill.

But There’s a Catch…

Okay, you need people but things aren’t always so easy. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, told the world more than 85 years ago, “Dealing with people is the biggest challenge you will face, especially if you’re in business.” You need people but they’re your biggest challenge. This is why understanding how to ethically persuade is critical to your professional success and personal happiness!

Three Hours a Day!

In To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink cites a survey of more than 7,000 business people when he wrote, “People are now spending about 40% of their time at work engaged in non-sales selling – persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.” This means the average worker spends more than three hours a day trying to persuade others. If you’re going to spend that much time on one activity doesn’t it make sense to learn how to do it well?

Persuasion is a Skill

Make no mistake a about it, persuasion is a skill. However, unlike hitting a 300 yard drive, dunking a basketball or running a 5-minute mile, it’s not something only a chosen few are capable of. Persuasion can be learned, practiced, and perfected by anyone. My focus is teaching you how to use the principles of ethical influence to change people’s behavior. For a short introduction to these principles watch this video from Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., and Steve Martin, CMCT,

Want to Learn How to Influence People?

I’ll teach you the science of persuasion and more importantly, how to apply that knowledge to ensure your professional success and personal happiness. Are you looking for a speaker at your next event? Do you  need one-on-one coaching or consulting? How about training for your team? Whatever it is, I’m ready to help you and your organization. Contact me today and we’ll explore how we can begin working together.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on incorporating persuasion into sales and coaching have been viewed by 90,000 people around the world!