Peloton’s “Outrageous” Commercial is Causing Quite a Stir

If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately, or watched the news, you’ve probably seen the uproar over the television ad featuring a woman who received a Peloton stationary bike from her husband for Christmas. As someone who lifts weights and runs every day, I liked the commercial. I must say, I was taken back by all the harsh criticism on social media. Watch the commercial and see what you think.

Body Image

Much of the criticism revolved around the fact that the woman in the ad is pretty and seemingly fit already. I write “seemingly” because being thin does not necessarily mean someone is healthy. Even thin people can have high blood pressure and cholesterol, low aerobic capacity and weak muscles.

Some people believe the ad promotes an unhealthy lifestyle. Many social media comments said this 116 lb woman (they don’t know if that’s her real weight) doesn’t need to be 112 lbs. Who said she was trying to lose weight? What if she viewed exercise as a keystone habit that will help build discipline in other areas of life?

Consider this; if the woman in the ad had been overweight the outrage probably would have been around body shaming. Seems like a no win situation for Peloton when it’s all it’s trying to do is promote its exercise equipment.

Appropriate Gifts

Can a spouse give a gift like exercise equipment without conveying; “I don’t accept you as you are, you need to be thinner or more fit?” Yes, they can. As noted earlier, I run and lift daily so my wife has bought me lots of exercise equipment over the years including a treadmill. Not once did I think she was doing so because she doesn’t accept me as I am.

In the ad, nothing in the woman’s response to the bike, or her use of the bike, indicated she felt “less than” in the eyes of her husband. Her response was genuine excitement when she saw the gift. She also seemed pretty happy at the end when she and her husband watched the video of her journey.

Perspective

We all come at the world from our own perspective and in large part that’s shaped by prior experience. If someone never felt good enough or disliked their body perhaps their response to the ad was triggered by those prior life experiences.

Another viewpoint, no less valid (the ad doesn’t give any context) is that the woman asked for the bike, or mentioned in passing how she thought it would be great to have one. As noted above, her response was genuine excitement.

I saw a Home Depot ad recently where a woman bought her husband tools for Christmas. Funny, but I didn’t see any complaints online that ad being sexist. I could contend the ad is totally sexist because in our house Jane is the fixer-upper. She’s never bought me tools but I’ve bought her tools. Why would Home Depot only assume men use tools? (I don’t believe they think that)

Good and Bad

Nothing is perfect and no person is perfect. Look for the bad and you’ll find it. You can read into the Peloton as whatever you want. Look for the good an you’ll find it too. I choose to believe the guy loved his wife, had the means to get her a very nice gift, did so AND that she loved it!

Conclusion

Don’t we have more important things to get upset about and act on than a Christmas commercial featuring workout equipment? What about all the people who commit suicide every day? How about our homeless vets? Cancer still has not been cured. Did you know we have a $23 trillion debt that will take 60,000 years to pay off if we pay it down a million dollars a day? Those are real issues to upset over.

To Do This Week

Some people look for things to get upset about. Compared to what I just noted above, this is fake outrage or some might call it a first world problem. People have a right to be upset about something and comment on it but that doesn’t mean they should always be with ones to control the narrative. In protest I might give Jane some golf equipment for Christmas. Her game is great but let’s face it, I’d love her soooooo much more if her handicap was 6, not 8.

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 85,000 people around the world!

Professional Success and Personal Happiness – Perfect Holiday Gifts

Starting with the next paragraph is the opening to my book Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. If you’ve not gotten your copy yet I hope a quick read this week will stimulate your appetite for more. The book is available in eBook and paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book retailers. Last last month I recorded the audio version so if that’s your preferred learning route keep an eye out for it on Audible in January.

Professional Success and Personal Happiness

Much of your professional success and personal happiness depends on getting others to say Yes to you. Do you believe that? I’ve certainly found that to be the case in life. My business career started in the insurance industry immediately after college and I quickly learned my value to my employer was contingent on my ability to make good business decisions. But, no matter how good I thought my decisions were, I always had to convince someone else what I was proposing was the right course of action – a customer, my manager, the field associates I trained, someone in “the home office” and more! Bottom line, I needed to persuade others my ideas would help grow the business profitably.

After marrying Jane and starting a family, I began to see persuasion was helpful on a personal level because I saw how it could lead to more peace and happiness in our home. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to communicate with your kids – especially teenagers – with less friction while dramatically increasing the odds of hearing Yes? Avoiding the pushback that so often comes with adolescence can make for a more peaceful, happy home.

If you agree getting to Yes will help your professional success and personal happiness, then this book is for you because you’ll learn the mental shortcuts people use to make quick decisions. This is especially important in the information and marketing-overloaded society we find ourselves in. In this book you’ll learn how people think and behave. More importantly, you’ll find concrete examples to help you apply the psychology of persuasion – ethically – to everyday situations. By the end of this book my goal is to have you think: “I see how I could use this at work and at home.”

Let’s start by telling you what this information isn’t – a magic wand. No one can guarantee everyone will do what you want all the time. Even behavior experts like Robert Cialdini and Dan Ariely can’t make that claim. However, their work and the work of countless other social psychologists and behavioral economists clearly shows you can move significantly more people to do what you want if you apply the science of influence ethically and correctly.

One more disclaimer – I’m not a social psychologist nor behavioral economist although I was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, the most cited living social psychologist in the world today on the subject of influence and persuasion. While not an academic, I have something every bit as important: real world application. I’m proud Dr. Cialdini wrote this about me;

“When Brian Ahearn speaks, people listen. That is so because he knows his material thoroughly, and he knows how to present it superbly. The upshot is that the genuine insights he provides are not just immediately understandable, they are also immediately action- able and profitable.”

I shared a couple of disclaimers and now I’ll make a claim – if you take the time to learn about the psychology of persuasion and diligently apply the scientifically proven principles you will be more successful in your career and you will enjoy more happiness in your personal life. I know this because science says more people will say Yes to you. 

To Do This Week

Christmas will be here before you know it and you might still be searching for the perfect gift for friends and family. I’m totally bias but I think a copy of Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical  might be just what you’re looking for and they need. Buy a copy for someone who could use a little help at the office. Get the book for a friend who could do a better job communicating at home. If you’ve not gotten a copy for yourself yet, look at it as an investment in you.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more than 85,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

Truthfulness Matters…A Lot!

Ever since I was little I’ve been a truth teller. My mom used to joke that I couldn’t lie. I don’t recall telling the truth as something that was routinely hammered into my sister and me, so I’m not sure where my emphasis on the truth came from. And, despite a serious look I naturally display, I have no poker face. I think it’s an example of my body aligning with the core belief that telling the truth is important.

This jumped out at me when I watched a news segment recently where Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren was in an impromptu conversation with a Chicago resident about school choice. The resident said while people like Warren had the option of sending their kids to private school most people don’t really have that choice. Looking somewhat uncomfortable (like most politicians when they go off script) Warren responded saying her kids went to public school. Not an entirely true statement.

Warren’s daughter went to public school and so did her son but only through fifth grade. After that he attended private school. Warren’s answer gives her wiggle room but it was not an entirely true statement. I’m sure that Chicago resident would have pushed back had she known Warren’s son had a private education sixth grade through high school.

“Truth Telling”

This approach to “truth telling” is by no means limited to Warren. There are plenty of fact checks daily on President Trump’s statements. We saw it when President Obama said dozens of times that people would be able to keep their current doctor under Obamacare. President Bush made many statements about the war in Iraq that were less than truthful. And let’s not forget Bill Clinton wagging his finger at the television cameras as he told Americans, “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman,” referring to Monica Lewinsky.

Forgive me if I tell you, I hardly believe a word that comes out of politician’s mouths these days. After 55 trips around the sun I’m very jaded when it comes to what people will say and do when power is on the line.

Lying by Commission

This takes place when you knowingly tell a falsehood. It doesn’t matter what your motive is, lying is lying. When you stretch the true as a means to your own ends, say what you will but you’re a manipulator.

Some do this because they think people can’t handle the truth. That’s a lack of respect. Imagine someone saying to you, “I would have told you the truth but I didn’t think you could handle it.” How would you feel? What you do with the truth, how you handle it, is up to you.

Lying by Omission

This is when you know something would impact a person’s decision in a way you don’t like so you decide not to bring it up. In other words, you knowingly omit the truth.

Let’s say I’m selling my house and there’s a big crack in the basement floor. Knowing this might change your decision to buy, or at least reduce the price you offer, I put a huge area rug over the crack and hope you don’t ask about it.

How will you feel if you buy the house then discover the crack? If you confront me about the crack and I say, “You didn’t ask about it,” I doubt you’ll think I was truthful. No matter what I might tell myself, I know deep down I wasn’t truthful because the truth would have changed your decision.

Truth Telling, Trust Building

When you admit a weakness or shortcoming in your offer, you can actually gain credibility because you’re seen as trustworthy. After admitting a weakness, the key is to then transition to something positive. In the case of Elizabeth Warren, she could have answered the Chicago resident as follows:

“I understand your frustration with public education. I say that because my daughter attended public school through high school. My son did so through fifth grade then we decided to put him in a private school. Because of that experience I’m well aware of the difference between a public and private education. I agree that it’s not fair only a select few can get a better education. My pledge is to change that.”

To Do This Week

Don’t lie. Instead, commit to being a truth teller. When there’s something that might be viewed as a weakness in your offer, bring it up early. After that, segue to the best parts of what you have to offer. Do so and you’ll feel better about yourself, gain credibility, and be known as a person with good character. I’ll leave you with a quote from the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more than 85,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

It’s All About The Data…Or Is It?

Until last November, my entire career was in the insurance industry. The industry has been slower to change than many others. This is due in large part to legacy mainframe systems, state regulations, and no sense of urgency. However, over the last five years the pace of change has accelerated. The reason; new competitors threatening to disrupt the status quo.

Big data is one factor that’s making a huge impact. In the past, insurance companies were limited on the data they could capture and mine from their old mainframes. Whether it’s insurance or any other industry, the more data a company has, the better it can do when it comes to predicting customer behavior.

That could lead you to think it’s all about the data. Or is it?

Less is More

Generally, more data is better…at least to a point. Research shows, given too many options people end up making fewer choices. This was born out in a well-known study conducted by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper using jam displays in a store.

People entered the store and either saw a selection of two dozen types of jam or six choices. People were attracted to the larger selection, with approximately 60% of shoppers stopping to peruse the table with 24 choices. But, only 3% of those shoppers bought a jar of jam.

Far fewer people, only 40%, stopped by the table with six jams. However, 30% of those people bought a jar. If you do the math, the table with only half a dozen choices sold nearly seven times more!

On the surface this seems counter-intuitive. But, it makes sense when you realize the struggle humans have with discriminating between items when all the choices appear relatively similar. The same thought process applies when too much data is presented for consideration; it can cause analysis paralysis.

Not The Whole Story

Data is limited in that it’s only as good as what can be collected and it rarely tells the who story. Have you ever used a dating app? I know many people who have. Rarely is it the person who seems to be a perfect match on paper who ends up being the love of their life.

Having lots of data is good but just like a dating app has its limits. The data points are like still images taken from a video. You may get a strong sense of what’s going on by looking at the right pictures but you might also jump to the wrong conclusion if important pictures are missing.

What’s Your Message?

Perhaps most important is what you do with the data you have. At some point communication has to happen between people. It may come via a website, an email, a phone call or face-to-face. Good data will be worthless if the person using it doesn’t know how to communicate.

For example; if there’s a problem – people not voting, kids cheating, citizens not paying taxes – you will hurt your chances of changing that behavior by normalizing it with big numbers.

Normalizing it might go like this; it’s terrible that more than 60% of college students cheat (I made that up). If you understand the principle of consensus, people are more inclined to follow the lead of similar others, then you know the statement above may encourage more students to cheat! “Hey, if more than half of the kids are cheating I might as well too,” goes the thought for some students.

I’ve also seen companies use verbiage on collection notices and cease and desist letters that do nothing to help them achieve their goal. Often it makes the person who receives the intimidating communication dig their heels in more! Humans are funny that way. It’s not uncommon for people to forego what’s best for them in order to teach the other person or organization a lesson if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly.

To Do This Week

Think about all the data you encounter and attempt to use to move your organization forward. How can you maximize the effectiveness of that data? At some point you’ll use data when interacting with other people. This is where the rubber meets the road; getting or not getting what you want. Consider the following:

  1. Less is more. Don’t overwhelm people with charts, graphs and numbers. Think about the data that will help reach your objectives and discard what’s not essential.
  2. Account for limitations. Data is good but it’s not the answer, only a tool to help you get answers. Think of it like a map; it’s helpful but it’s not the actual terrain. What might be missing that could help make a better decision?
  3. Manage your message. Don’t share big numbers to impress. Consider the psychology it will trigger in those who encounter it. Will it move people in the direction you want? If not, rethink what you’re going to share and how you plan to share it.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by nearly 85,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

3 Considerations for Holiday Gift Giving

I recently attended an event to listen to a hugely successful speaker, Jeffrey Hayzlett, share business ideas for aspiring speakers to build their businesses. At one point he talked about working with the automotive manufacturer Chrysler. He was in a commercial for the Dodge Ram pick-up truck and afterwards was given a free truck!

As he told the story he was giddy! I asked, “Was the truck part of the contract or a surprise gift afterwards?” He said it was a surprise gift. I followed up with, “You can obviously afford that truck many times over so why did it mean so much to you that they gave it to you?” His response, “Ever since I was a kid I liked to win things. For me it was like winning something.”

He told several other stories of getting gifts. What’s the point? Even people who are extremely well off like getting gifts! It’s a very natural human response. That begs the question; what constitutes a good gift? We’ll take a look at three things that can make your gift giving stand out from the rest.

Personalized just for you

Here’s a mistake – when you give a gift you focus on what it means to you. No, no, no! Gift giving is all about what it means to the person you’re giving to. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person can afford it. What it means, or represents to the other person.

With Jeffrey’s story two things stood out. First, he liked pick-up trucks and already owned at least one so getting a new truck meant something to him. Second, he liked winning which went to one of his core motives.

Interestingly, he went on to tell us when he was Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak he had some celebrities who called him regularly for a free camera. They’d been given a free camera in the past and liked how that felt. Think about that; these multi-millionaire celebrities enjoyed getting free cameras that only cost around $100.

It’s not about what it means to you; it’s about what it means to them.

Surprise!

As noted earlier, the truck was not part of the contract. If it had been then it would not have been considered a gift. If it had been negotiated in the contract the truck would have been reduced to a monetary part of the transaction; a reward of sorts.

When the truck was given as an unexpected surprise after the fact it was attention getting! As the holidays approach there will be lots of gift giving. It’s expected. It’s also expected that gifts are given on birthdays. But, when you give a gift apart from holidays, birthdays or something negotiated, the gift will mean more because there was no expectation.

Create a sense of, “Wow, thank you so much!” by giving when it’s not expected.

More is better…to a point

When you give gifts, generally more is better. For example; a $25 gift card to a restaurant is nice. A $50 card is twice as nice but at some point you can give too much. Someone saying, “I appreciate you so I thought I’d get you this $1000 gift card,” wouldn’t be appropriate for most people.

Why can giving be too much be inappropriate sometimes? Because once you give a huge gift the other person will feel some obligation to “repay the favor” in the future. It would be awfully hard for most people to do something on par with a $1000 gift card.

You don’t need to give much to make someone happy and sometimes a little more will make them a lot happier.

To Do This Week

Giving gifts and doing favors for people engages the principle of reciprocity. This principle of influence creates an obligation in most people to repay the favor. The obligation isn’t bad because it’s useful to form relationships. I give to you and you give to me. We’re both better off, a win-win. With the holidays approaching there’s no better time to practice reciprocity.

  1. Personalize Gifts. When giving gifts be thoughtful about what your gifts mean to each individual. It may not be an unexpected gift during the holidays but the more you give in a personalized way the better the other person will feel.
  2. Practice Gratitude. Express sincere appreciate for any gift you’re given. How you thank someone can make someone’s day and might just reinforce that they’d like to give to you in the future.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – was one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by nearly 85,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

 

Make Labels Work for You

Labels have gotten a bad rap in recent years. People don’t want to be labeled because labels can be self-reinforcing, limiting, and hard to shake. For example; if a child is labeled a troublemaker early in school he or she might start living up to that reputation and teachers may start looking for bad behavior. That negative label may limit opportunities because once a reputation is established it can be very hard to change.

So labeling people can be a bad thing, especially when the labels are incorrect. But let’s not toss out the baby with the bathwater. Labels also allow you to quickly identify things, communicate more effectively, and spot influence opportunities you may not have noticed in the past.

Identification

Most of language is really labeling for quick identification and ease of communication. Nouns are labels because, according to Dictionary.com, a noun is “a word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things ( common noun ), or to name a particular one of these ( proper noun ).”

When I write “Paris” you know what city I’m talking about. The same goes for New York and yet both cities, any city for that matter, is so much more than its name.

Communication

Having a strong sense of words allows you to communicate efficiently with other people. We say a word and for the most part we know what each other is talking about which facilitates communication.

For example; a sweet, edible fruit that grows on trees that can be red, yellow or green is an apple. Imagine if every time you went to the store you spouse had so say, “Honey, don’t forget to pick up a dozen of those sweet, edible fruit that grow on trees. Get the green ones.” Much easier to say, “Don’t forget to pick up a dozen green apples.”

Make Labels Work for You

What you need to do is make labels work for you. You can do that in a couple of ways: defense and opportunities.

When I teach people about influence I often say, “Once you learn to define certain principles of influence you’ll be amazed as you start to notice how certain principles are used on you. You’ll understand how the marketer is trying to get you to the store, the salesperson is trying to get you to buy, and how the politician is trying to get you to vote.” Open eyes in this regard allows you to defend yourself if need be.

Then I go on to tell the audience, “On the flip side, you’ll start to see opportunities to begin using the principles to ethically move people to action.” The example I frequently use is buying a new car. It’s amazing how often you see your new car on the road shortly after driving it off the car lot. Your eyes are “open” to something that’s actually been there all along.

Conclusion

The word label has become a label of sorts and has come to have a somewhat negative connotation. Don’t let that be the case for you because it might limit what you notice – good and bad – and limit your opportunities.

To Do This Week

Pay close attention to the labels that are tossed around and question them. As I encouraged you last week, have conversations with people who might be labeled differently than you.  Don’t judge, just ask questions to learn about them, their experiences and views. You might be surprised at how you unknowingly fell prey to labels that might be limiting or inaccurate.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by nearly 85,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

 

Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Lynchings

DISCLAIMER: This post is neither for or against Donald Trump or Joe Biden. It’s not pro or con when it comes to Republicans or Democrats. I’ve voted for candidates in both parties over the decades. In the last presidential election I cast a dissenting vote for Gary Johnson because I found both candidates so objectionable for a variety of reasons.

The post isn’t pro or con when it comes to CNN, MSNBC or Fox. If I watch the news at all anymore, I give roughly the same time to each station because it’s like watching the world from completely different vantage points in space.

Impeachment

By now you’ve heard Donald Trump equated the impeachment inquiry into his phone call with the Ukrainian President to a lynching. The backlash over his comment was swift and fierce because of the history of lynching of blacks in America.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of lynching is “to put to death (as by hanging) by mob action without legal approval or permission.” By definition, a lynching can occur in any culture regardless of race, sexual preference or anything else. However, words take on meaning beyond their stated definition based on their use and history. In the case of American culture, lynching has become synonymous with white mob actions against blacks.

Why that word?

Understanding the history tied to lynching in America, it begs the question – why would Trump use that particular word? For people who dislike (many would use the word “hate”) it’s clear – they see him as racist and that word is yet more proof of their already strong belief. Others may claim he’s just ignorant for using such a racially charged word.

But, could there be another, more strategic reason he used that one word? Perhaps. While it didn’t get nearly as much press last week, Joe Biden called the impeachment process of Bill Clinton “a partisan lynching.” Five other Democrats invoked that word about Clinton’s impeachment. No backlash in 1998, very little coverage in 2019.

President Trump may have used that word to point out a double-standard. I know some of you reading this might think that’s giving him too much credit. Maybe he’s a racist, maybe he’s smart, maybe he’s both.

Double Standard

Is there a double standard in the American press? Absolutely…on both sides!

CNN, MSNBC and other more liberal media outlets have given Joe Biden a pass. After all, times were different in 1998. He apologized. He’s been a Democrat all his life, and so on.

Fox continually gives Trump a pass too. They mercilessly condemned Obama for playing too much golf. Trump owns golf courses and plays all the time! That’s just one example but there are many more.

To deny favoritism from any news outlet would be intellectually dishonest. Each has a worldview/agenda that drives their bias reporting.

Justification

Humans have an amazing ability to justify almost anything and our ability to do so comes naturally. Just think about the small child who is about to be punished for hitting another child. “But he did it first!” is a common response. Kids don’t have to be taught to do that, it comes naturally. “Yea, but..” is used to justify so much of what we do.

If you love Trump you will find ways to explain his behavior as perfectly fine. On the flip side, many Trump supporters (Republicans more broadly) easily justified their contempt for virtually everything Obama did.

The same happens with liberals. They see Trump as pure evil and anyone can’t see that, well they must be part of the problem. Sorry but that’s just not true.

Good People

There are good people on both sides. I have friends who identify as Democrats and they’re very good people. Likewise, I know many folks who are die-hard Republicans and they are very good people too.

The difference is each side fundamentally views society, our challenges and potential solutions differently. While some of the people I know post inflammatory rhetoric on social media, when we get a chance to sit and talk, they’re good, reasonable people.

Don’t Be Manipulated

Make no mistake about it, when you watch MSNBC, CNN, Fox or any other “news” you’re not getting the news. You’re getting information that comes from an ideological slant then is supplemented by pundits who also have a biased viewpoint.

We can never remove all bias from the news any more than you or I can remove the biases we have. Having said that, as a society we’re working hard to try to reduce the influence biases cause in workplace (racial, sexual, gender, religious, etc.). We try to do so by setting up systems to help us.

So, here’s the big question – why aren’t media outlets going through anti-bias training? They have no problem pointing out how companies like Starbucks need to do so. Newsflash – media outlets do more to shape our thinking, behavior and politics than Starbucks. When we turn on the news why can’t we reasonably expect, as Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet used to say, “Just the facts.”?

Conclusion

Americans have an incredible ability to set aside differences and come together in the face of adversity. We did it in WWI, WWII, after the assassination of President Kennedy and after 911. We have the ability to set aside our differences and focus on the fact that we’re Americans. The country is far from perfect but still, people from all over the world want to come here because the opportunities are still greater here than anywhere else in the world.

To Do This Week

Question what you’re see, hear and read from the media. Just because what you encounter may be different that your view doesn’t make it wrong. By the same token, just because it aligns with your beliefs doesn’t make it right.

Have a conversation with someone who is different than you. In a non-judgmental way, ask them about how they see the world or certain issues. Don’t contend, just try to understand. I think you may be surprised by what you learn.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more nearly 80,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

 

5 Trust Essentials Because Trust is so Essential

Trust is essential in any relationship, business or personal. The late Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, put it this way, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

It won’t matter how skilled you are in your profession if the people you interact with don’t trust you. And once trust is lost, it’s very, very hard to earn back. I often hear people talk about trust without every mentioning what you can do to build trust. I’m going to take as a given that you’re truthful. By that I mean, you tell the truth and don’t hide the truth. Beyond truth telling, let’s look at five trust essentials.

Give Back

Giving back after you’ve been given to is a trust essential. It’s playing by the rule of reciprocity. Breaking the rules in society, at work, in games, or just about anywhere else is a surefire way to lose trust.

Reciprocity is such a common norm that social scientists agree; every human society raises its people in the way of reciprocity. Giving and getting in return allows people to accomplish far more in life because resources are shared.

When people don’t play by the rule we call them takers. Nobody wants to be around takers let alone give to them. Don’t be a taker! When people give to you, make sure you look for ways to return the favor.

Admit Weakness

Newsflash: nobody is perfect, no product is perfect, and there’s no perfect service. Acting as is if you or your offering is flawless is another surefire way to lose trust. Why? Because any prospective client you interact with knows nothing is perfect.

If you want to gain trust, admit any weakness or shortcoming early. Doing so gains you credibility because you’re viewed as honest. Another benefit of dealing with a shortcoming early is, it usually takes it off the table so you can focus on your product or service strengths.

A wonderful example of admitting weakness is my long-time friend Al. Our first conversation more than 30 years ago started with him telling me he’d just gotten out of a six-week alcohol rehab facility. His admission let me know I could be completely honest with him in return. His admission was a trust builder. And great news – Al never drank again!

Keep Your Word

While you know your heart, people only see your actions. This is important to remember because people judge you not by your intent but by your deeds. If you say you’ll be somewhere or commit to doing something with someone but fail to follow through you lose a little bit of trust. Do it too often and trust erodes quickly.

One way to highlight you’re keeping your word is to occasionally say, “As promised…” then mention what you’re following through on.

  • “As promised, here’s the report you asked for.”
  • “As promised, I placed the order for you this afternoon.”

It’s human nature to notice and remember when things go wrong so people are likely to remember your failure more than the times you followed through. Using a phrase like, “As promised…” reminds others you’re a person of your word.

Take Responsibility

In his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie wrote, “When you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” More than 80 years after Carnegie penned those words his advice still applies.

You gain trust when you step up and admit a mistake before anyone knows about it. Who would you trust more: a) the person who owns up to a mistake proactively or b) the person who knew about a mistake but did nothing about it until confronted? The answer is pretty obvious.

If you’re unaware of a mistake but it’s brought to your attention, own it. The more you try to deny, justify or shift the burden the more you’ll lose trust. I’ve generally found people to be far more forgiving than my irrational fears might have led me to believe. Don’t give in to fear.

Offer Help

Helping when you don’t have to, when you will gain nothing, earns trust. Too often people are seen as helping so they can get something in return. When you have the capacity (time, skill, relationship, etc.) to genuinely help another person do so.

Why would someone help when they don’t have to and they get nothing in return? Most likely because they’re a decent human being. We tend to trust caring people more than those who engage in quid quo pro actions.

Earlier I mentioned don’t be a taker. Now go one step further and be a giver.

Conclusion

Trust is essential for good, strong, productive relationships. It’s too important to leave to chance so be proactive in building and maintaining trust. While there are more things you can do beyond what I’ve noted, these five things are a great starting point.

To Do This Week

Focus on what I’ve shared, consciously trying to implement each:

  1. Give back
  2. Admit weakness
  3. Keep your word
  4. Take responsibility
  5. Offer help

Do so and you’ll become an even more trustworthy individual.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more nearly 80,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now available through LinkedIn Learning.

Deliberate Practice, Not Natural Talent, Makes the Difference

Not long ago, after finishing a presentation, someone said I was a natural when it came to public speaking. I took it as a compliment because that’s how it was intended. However, after thanking her I said, “It’s not natural talent. I work really hard at this.” It’s often the case that the better you get at something the easier it looks to others.

In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell took Dr. Anders Ericsson work and popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice can make almost anyone an expert. Ericsson would dispute the 10,000 hours as some sort of magic number but does believe in deliberate practice as a way to expertise. Deliberate practice would be foreign to most people. It’s not simply playing a lot of golf or piano. It’s not giving a lot of presentations or even having performed a lot of surgeries. Each of those will help you improve up to a point but could lead to diminished performance thereafter.

According to Ericsson, deliberate practice entails the following:

  1. Your practice must have purpose.
  2. Your practice needs to be focused.
  3. You need timely feedback.
  4. You’ll have to get out of your comfort zone.

You may not want to become an expert or maybe you cannot devote 10,000 hours to an activity. That’s okay because you can still become really, really good by following Ericsson’s system of deliberate practice.

I’ve seen this play out in my career. I’ve been studying and teaching the science influence for more than 15 years. Over that time, I’ve taught essentially the same concepts for thousands of hours. You might think that could get boring and you’d be right if I did it exactly the same way every time. But I don’t.

I work really hard on perfecting my skill as a presenter/teacher. That work entails continuing to expand my knowledge base. I read, watch and listen to keep learning and I engage in deliberate practice as outlined by Ericsson.

Purpose

Any time I have a big presentation coming up I practice. It’s not uncommon to put 30-40 hours of prep time in for a one hour keynote even though I’ve given a variation of the talk hundreds of times before. If people are going to give me an hour of their time and if an event coordinator is staking his or her reputation on hiring me in then I feel obligated to give everyone an experience they won’t forget.

Not simply focusing on what I want to say, but consciously thinking about the attendees and event coordinator has made a noticeable difference. Simon Sinek would say it’s the “why” makes all the difference.

Focus

Each time I get ready to present I pick at least one thing to do a little differently. That keeps things fresh for me and leads to a better experience for those in the audience.

I have my talks “chunked” so I can specifically work on sections and subsections. I don’t memorize anything but I know exactly what I want to convey and then work on doing that most effectively. That may be incorporating a different slide that drives home a point, creating a new takeaway item, changing colors or working on some other aspect of the overall presentation.

Feedback

This summer I gave a short presentation in Columbus, my hometown, and invited several people who knew me. These were people who had seen me present many times over the years. I asked each for specific feedback on certain aspects of the presentation.

Afterwards I followed up with each person to discuss their feedback. When I saw themes (same feedback from multiple people) or got some interesting ideas to try I made sure to incorporate them into my next presentations. I also let each person know what I did with their feedback. Knowing I actually used their input will make them more likely to help me in the future. A win for each of us!

Comfort zone

I used to be very uncomfortable moving into a crowd. But I knew it would make for a better experience after watching my friend Anthony Tormey, President/CEO of Leader Development Institute, and other great speakers naturally do that.

To stretch myself, many years ago I started doing improv comedy with Jane. That removed any and all inhibitions! Now I visualize myself playfully interacting with audiences as I practice. When I present I make it a point to move into an audience as much as possible and take note of how people respond.

Conclusion

What do you want to get better at? How much time and effort are you willing to invest? Begin to engage deliberate practice and you will be amazed at the difference can make. Pick up a copy of Ericsson’s book Peak and remember, it’s about:

  1. Purpose
  2. Focus
  3. Feedback
  4. Comfort zone

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, author, 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 – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

His LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more than 75,000 people around the world! His latest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is now online.

It’s Not a Sacrifice, It’s an Investment

Have you ever heard a parent talk about the sacrifices they make for their children? Maybe you’ve made a similar comment. A long time ago I started taking a different view about what we choose to forgo for our kids and others; it’s not a sacrifice, it’s an investment.

Investing

If you’re like many working adults you probably set aside some of your income each month for retirement savings. You’re forgoing spending on current wants and needs for something down the road you hope will give you more.

Children

By the same token, whatever you choose to forgo when it comes to your children, you hope will pay dividends in the future. To see your children grow up happy, healthy, productive and mature will bring you joy. If they give you grandchildren that’s icing on the cake.

Relationships

The same attitude (yes, it is a mindset) applies to our friends and coworkers. You probably choose to be around people who give something in return. That might be encouragement, fun times, a listening ear, advice or something else. The point is, you get something out of the relationship.

Giving in a friendship triggers reciprocity, that natural obligation we all feel to give back to those who first give to us. When you invest in friendships you get something in return. If your friends invest in you they get something too. It’s a win-win proposition.

The Taker

What happens when someone takes and doesn’t give? In other words, you realize it’s a bad investment because you get very little or nothing in return? You probably find yourself spending less and less time with takers.

The Giver

When you begin to change your thinking from “sacrificing” to “investing” you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the response of most people.

If someone sees you as sacrificing they may feel they’re putting you out. They may feel like strings are attached. It may make them feel like a pain in the butt.

However, when someone sees you as investing in them it conveys worth and dignity. That will make people far more likely to naturally want to do something for you because they appreciate what you’ve done.

Conclusion

Words matter. Words conjure up thoughts and feelings. How you think and feel will either encourage or discourage action from the people you interact with.

Sacrificing feels hard, like something is going away forever. Most people resist doing hard things. Investing on the other hand doesn’t feel as hard because there’s something to look forward to, a payoff down the road.

To Do This Week

Stop sacrificing and start investing. Approach people – family, friends, co-workers, strangers – with a mindset that says, “I’ want to invest in you.” That subtle mindset shift will change your demeanor and people will pick up on it.

Will every investment “pay off”? No, but the law of reciprocity dictates far more people will respond positively to you when you invest first.  Doing so creates win-win relationships and that’s a great long-term investment strategy!

Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CMCT®

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international speaker, 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 when it comes to the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – has been one of the top 10 selling Amazon books in several insurance categories and cracked the top 50 in sales & selling.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses have been viewed by more than 75,000 people around the world! His newest course – Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities – is available through LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com.