Influence is all about PEOPLE

When it comes to influence it’s all about PEOPLE. After all, you can’t persuade things. No matter how persuasive you are, you can’t persuade your lawnmower to start on a hot summer day and cut the grass. However, if you’re good you might persuade your spouse, significant other or child, to start the lawnmower and cut the grass.

Dale Carnegie had it right when he wrote, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you’re in business.” That holds true as much today as when he first penned those words more than 80 years ago. The more you understand how people think and behave, then combine that with an understanding of how to ethically influence people, the better your chances for success at the office and happiness at home.

When it comes to PEOPLE, remember it’s about those Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Let’s take a quick look at each component of PEOPLE.

Powerful

Who says influence is powerful? Here are what a few well-known people from history had to say about persuasion:

“Persuasion is often more effective than force.” – Aesop, Greek fabulist

“If I can persuade, I can move the universe.” – Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, abolitionist, writer, and statesman

“The only real power available to the leader is the power of persuasion.” – Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States

In addition to those intelligent, successful people (and countless others over history), we now have research to rely on. There are more than seven decades of research from social psychology, behavioral economics, and now neuroscience, to prove how powerful persuasion can be…when it’s done right.

Everyday

Unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway you interact with people every day. Quite often in your communication with others you make requests hoping to hear “Yes!” Getting people to say yes is important because nobody goes it alone. That’s especially true for highly successful people. Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO said, “Nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been accomplished through other people.”

Here’s something I love about persuasion; it applies at work and home. Think of it as a 24x7x365 skill. At work you try to persuade your boss, direct reports, coworkers, vendors and customers. At home influence helps with your parents, significant other, children, neighbors and anyone else you come in contact with.

Opportunities

Every interaction with others presents opportunities to do “little things” differently to reap big rewards. For example; would you be curious to find out what the Cancer Society did to increase their volunteer rate 700% in one area of town? How American Veterans doubling the donations the received? Both were accomplished by doing a few, nearly costless, things differently using psychology.

The problem is, all too often people miss the opportunities that are right in front of them. Have you ever had someone point out a speaker saying “um” and then you notice it all the time? And so it is when you begin to learn the language of persuasion. You’ll be amazed at how often you begin noticing opportunities to engage the psychology to leverage better results.

Persuade

What exactly is persuasion? The definitions I hear most often are “to chance someone’s mind” or “to convince someone of something.” Those may be good starts but they’re not enough. In the end you want to see people change their behavior.

With a focus on behavior change let’s consider Aristotle’s perspective. He said, “Persuasion was the art of getting people to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

Lasting

Sometimes your interaction with another person is “one and done” but quite often you have ongoing relationships. When it comes to relationships, you don’t want to go back to the drawing board time after time do you? Of course not. Ideally, you want to communication one time and see people’s thinking and behavior change for the long haul.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the power of persuasion could create a lasting effect. He said, “I would rather persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.” Done right, persuasion will stick, have a lasting impact on others.

Ethical

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, manipulation is, “to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner.” That’s not so bad. However, a more familiar definition is, “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

The word manipulation makes most of us bristle! That’s so because it connotes taking advantage of someone. I’m confident in writing this next statement; you don’t want to be manipulated. I’m also certain you don’t want to be seen as a manipulator either.

What’s the difference between ethical influence and manipulation? This quote from The Art of WOO sums it up well. “An earnest and sincere lover buys flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who succeeds to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds, we don’t blame the flowers and candy. We rightly question his character.” It’s a character issue. Will you use the tools – principles of influence in this case – for good or bad?

Conclusion

Your ability to influence people is critical to your professional success and personal happiness. Knowing that, and knowing how much you use this one skill each day, doesn’t it make sense to get better at it? My new book, Influence PEOPLE, will help you do that.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most other online sites.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out forAdvanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

 

 

BIG NEWS…It’s Finally Here!

BIG NEWS…Influence PEOPLE the book is now available for pre-order!

Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical is available for pre-ordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most other online book providers with a delivery date of August 20. Please note; if you order the paperback version it might say “Out of Stock” because it’s print on demand. That’s okay, go ahead and order then keep an eye out for it around August 20 or shortly thereafter.

Influence PEOPLE takes the complex science of influence and breaks it down into easy to understand, practical ideas you can start using immediately. My goal in writing the book is to help you hear “Yes!” more often at work and home. Why work and home? Because I believe getting people to say yes to you is critical for your professional success and personal happiness.

What are people saying about the book?

Influence PEOPLE is a treasure trove of instructive and entertaining personal accounts, informative research results, and extraordinarily useful tips for becoming consistently more influential. It shouldn’t be missed.” – Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., President, INFLUENCE AT WORK and author of Influence: Science and Practice and Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary New Way to Influence and Persuade

“In Influence PEOPLEBrian breaks persuasion down into manageable and easy to use chunks that anyone can learn and apply. He takes an idea that can be as complex as you’d like to make it and helps you learn in a fun, easy style.” – Dave Lakhani, author of Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want and Subliminal Persuasion

“Brian Ahearn’s new book has its roots in science but is highly readable and endlessly practical. Influence PEOPLE is packed with bite-size stories and nuggets of actionable advice. Anyone who wants to influence or persuade others should read this book.” – Roger Dooley, author of Friction and Brainfluence

Influence PEOPLE takes the science of influence out of the academic realm and makes it something you can easily use in the real world. Brian provides a ton of outstanding ideas that will help you enjoy more success at the office as well as peace and happiness at home. If you want to be more influential with everyone you meet, pick up your copy today!” – Mike Figliuolo, Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS and author of One Piece of Paper, Lead Inside the Box and The Elegant Pitch

“If your professional and personal success is dependent on getting others to say Yes to you–which it is by the way–then the obvious question is how? Brian Ahearn’s Influence PEOPLE doesn’t provide a single response, but rather a series of compelling answers. Importantly, they are all as practical and actionable as they are rooted in solid scientific evidence. 5 Stars!” – Steve Martin, New York Times bestselling co-author of Yes! and Messengers! Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t and Why

How Do I Order My Copy?

To order your copy of Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical click on one of these links: Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

But wait, there’s more! As a thank you for pre-ordering the book I have a free training video to share with you. The 15-minute video will introduce you to something not in the book – the psychology of pre-suasion. Once you’ve placed your order email proof of purchase to BookLaunch@influencepeople.biz and you’ll receive an email with a link to the training. The training link will only be up until month-end so make sure you watch it shortly after you order your copy of the book.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach, consultant, and author, 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 topic of ethical influence.

Brian is the author of the new book Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

 

Take A Look At This Persuasive Marketing Piece

I still get lots of junk mail. I’m sure you do too. I usually glance at it mostly to see if any is effective. Most isn’t but every now and then I come across a persuasive marketing piece. A few weeks ago, I received something from Amica Insurance about auto insurance. The mailer did several things I’ll point out.

The Envelope

The envelope said only 1 in 25 drivers qualified for their special offer. That’s good use of scarcity. It feels good to be in an exclusive club and get benefits not everyone gets.

It then listed my potential savings of $596. That’s good and much more eye catching that saving $50 a month. Last but not least, I’m given a deadline – September 1 – to respond. Another application of scarcity.

Inside the Envelope

When I opened the envelope a yellow sticky note catches my eye. According to two independent studies the use of sticky notes doubles response rates.

In red it says there are important facts to review. Not only did I see facts, I saw how much I might save if I were currently with State Farm, Liberty Mutual or other well-known insurance carriers.

The Mailer – Page 1

When I open the actual mailer inside the envelope I’m immediately hit with the fact that American drivers overpay for auto insurance by an average of $368. More scarcity because people will take more action to avoid losing money than to save money.

I’m told I can get a free quote. Even though no insurance carrier will charge you to quote your insurance the word free is a big trigger for people. We love free stuff!

The Mailer – Page 2

The next page says at the top “Better drivers deserve a better value.” That appeals to the fact that we all believe we’re better than average. We believe we’re better looking, smarter, kinder and better drivers. If we’re better then we deserve better.

The box that follows lists four features of the policy. Most of the features are included with the majority of auto policies but, because people don’t read their insurance policies, the coverages stand out as novel. I also like that Amica limits it to four. More than five and people will forget them but fewer and people might feel like there’s not much that’s different with an Amica policy.

And Dinari DuPont personally signed the letter! Well, not actually but it looks like it.

Conclusion

Overall, I give Amica an A on their marketing piece. I think it has too much information but what it does share incorporates a lot of persuasive psychology.

Here’s my challenge for you over the next week. Don’t just toss the junk mail that makes its way to your mailbox and don’t delete all the spammy looking emails that hit your inbox. Take a few minutes to read some and see if you can pick up on the persuasive psychology that’s being used to try to move you to action.

Do this and two things will happen:

  1. You’ll become better at spotting how marketers, salespeople, politicians and others are trying to change your thinking and actions.
  2. You will begin to see opportunities you can use to ethically influence people.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – will be available for pre-sale then live sales in August 2019.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

LinkedIn Learning – A New Course Coming Soon!

As I type this I’m in Carpinteria, CA, formerly home to Lynda.com, now LinkedIn Learning. This is my fourth time here to film a course. Advanced Selling: Persuading Different Personality Types will be released this fall. Working with LinkedIn is like you might imagine a cutting edge tech company to be. As soon as yo walk into their main facility you see ping pong and foosball tables. Breakfast, lunch are included along with unlimited coffee and snacks. My waistline is glad I don’t work there full time!

But the coolest thing at LinkedIn are the people. They are off the charts amazing at what they do and so much fun to work with. Preparation for a course begins months in advance with script writing. You work with an editor to get the words just right for LinkedIn’s worldwide audience. When you arrive to film you have make-up (yes, I wore make-up!), hair, lighting and sound technicians and a producer. After the filming the graphics folks work their magic. It amazes me what they produce after a day or two in a dark room in front of a green screen. It puts me in awe of what it must take to make motion pictures and televisions shows.

Below is the intro video to my course on Persuasive Selling. I encourage you to take a look and visit LinkedIn Learning to watch it and some of the thousands of other courses they offer. From Adobe to Excel to just about anything else business related, you can learn about everything at LinkedIn Learning.

 

Eight key psychological concepts in sales from Persuasive Selling by Brian Ahearn

 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

 

 

Influence PEOPLE: the book – Ethical

In August my first book will be available in eBook and paperback online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other outlets. Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical was written to give you practical, real-world ideas on how to use the science of influence. The goal is to help you enjoy more success at the office and happiness at home. I hope you’ll consider getting a copy.

This week’s blog post is an excerpt from the book on what it means too be ethical when it comes to persuasion.

Ethical

“A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist.”

Albert Schweitzer, theologian, philosopher, humanitarian

Do you know the difference between ethical persuasion and manipulation? Manipulators lookout only for themselves, unconcerned about the impact on others. It doesn’t matter to them if they stretch the truth – or outright lie – to get what they want. They don’t care if they disingenuously use their knowledge of psychology to twist your arm because they only care about how things work out for themselves.

This is why a good bit of advertising, particularly political ads, turn off so many people – because it’s apparent many companies and politicians distort the truth just to sell more products and win elections.

When it comes to ethics I like the following quote from The Art of Woo by G. Richards Shell and Mario Moussa; “An earnest and sincere lover buys flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who seeks to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds we don’t blame the flowers and candy. We rightly question his character.” 

Are flowers and candy good or bad? They’re neither good nor bad. They’re neutral objects that acquire meaning based on how we use them.

The same is true of the principles of influence. They’re neither good nor bad, they describe how people typically think and behave. How you use your knowledge of influence will reveal your character. Will you use your new knowledge of influence in a mutually beneficial way, looking for the proverbial “win-win”? Will you be truthful? Will you employ principles natural to the situation you find yourself in? If you know you are telling the truth, using principles natural for the situation, and what you ask will benefit the other person in some way, then you can feel confident moving ahead with your ethical request. 

Using the principles of influence ethically cannot be overstated. Use them ethically and you can build strong, lasting relationships in your personal life and in business. However, if people feel you’re manipulating them, not only will they sever the relationship, they’re likely to spread the word and damage your reputation. We’d all do well to remember what Aristotle said; “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” As your use of ethical persuasion skills grows, so does your influence.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 science of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

 

Influence PEOPLE Quarterly Newsletter

Wow, 2019 is now half over. I hope it’s going well for you on a professional and personal level. Thanks for giving me a few moments of your time and attention.

I have exciting news to share…my first book comes out next month! Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical will be available on Amazon in eBook and paperback initially with an audio version later this year. The book gives you the practical, “how to” application for the psychology of persuasion in every day situations. This has been years in the making so I’m thrilled to share it with you. Below is the amazing cover designed by Michael Franzese.

What is Influence PEOPLE?

The transition from corporate America to Influence PEOPLE continues to be an incredible experience! In some respects it’s been more challenging than expected but it’s also been much more fulfilling than I ever imagined. Every day I’m energized because I know what I do helps people like you enjoy more success at the office and happiness at home. Loving what you do and knowing it helps people makes every day a good day! Here’s what Influence PEOPLE is all about:

  • Why: Help you enjoy more professional success and personal happiness.
  • How: Teach you how to apply the science of ethical influence in every day situations.
  • What: Speak, write, train, coach and consult around the psychology of influence.
  • Who: We work with business leaders, salespeople, coaches, attor-neys and other people just like you.

 

LinkedIn Learning

During the second quarter my newest course, Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance Through Timely Feedback, went live. If you coach people then you won’t want to miss this learning opportunity. I also started my fourth LinkedIn Learning course which shows you how to persuade different personality types. Keep an eye out for that one in the 3rd quarter. To see short previews of each course click here.

 

 

Podcasts

The second quarter was busy with guest appearances on the following podcasts: David Avrin’s The Very Visible Podcast,  Networking Rx with Frank Agin, Jamming with Jason hosted by Jason Mefford, and Donald Meador’s The Corporate Middle. Podcasts are a great way to learn almost anywhere, even in the car. If you visit my podcast page you’ll see those podcasts and many others.

 

Workshops

The featured workshop this quarter is The Principles of Persuasion. This 2-day training is based on Robert Cialdini’s best-selling book Influence: Science and Practice. The workshop dives deep into the principles of persuasion that can be used to ethically influence people. The principles are scientifically proven and are universal across all cultures. In this workshop you’ll learn how to build relationships, overcome uncertainty and motivate people to action. To find out more click here.

 

Best of…

If you enjoy learning but find it difficult to locate good content look no further! Time is your most valuable asset so don’t spend too much of it searching. To help you save a little time below are a few great books to read, podcasts to listen to and videos to watch.

Books
Incognito by John Eagleman. This is a fascinating read on how your brain works and the implications on your choices, free will, who you are and much more. If you’re more into viewing than reading you can watch his documentary, The Brain with David Eagleman, on Prime Video.

Friction by Roger Dooley. Roger is an expert in neuromarketing. In his latest book he looks at things businesses do that cause friction and hurt their sales and customer service. You’ll never be the same after you read his book because you’ll spot friction everywhere. The good news is; you’ll also see friction in what you do and and you’ll have a chance to correct it.

Podcasts
Behavioral Grooves is hosted by Kurt Nelson and Tim Houlihan. I had the privilege of being a guest on their show last year. Not only will you learn how to use behavioral economics to improve your life and/or workplace, you’ll have fun doing it. I’ve not come across a more fun podcast than this one. Bonus: you’ll also learn a little about music from Tim.

American Negotiation Institute podcast is hosted by Kwame Christian. On the podcast you’ll learn about psychology and negotiations. Kwame invited me on the show but that’s not why I recommend it. Kwame’s love of learning, inquisitive interview style and interesting guests makes for an enjoyable experience whenever you tune in.

Video Presentations
Learn How to Control Your Mind from Joe Dispenza. Change is never easy but change can be easier if you know why you do what you do. In this short video Joe Dispenza talks about the subconscious programs that are running your life before you realize it. An eye opening presentation on why you do what you do and why you’re who you are.

Getting Stuck in the Negative is a Ted Talk from Alison Ledgerwood, a psychology professor at UC Davis. She explores why it’s so easy to get in a negative mindset and why it can be so hard to change a negative mindset. You’ll appreciate that she uses science to help you gain understanding.

Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CMCT®

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities this fall.

Brian can be reached at: Brian.Ahearn@influencepeople.biz or 614.313.1663.

Today Will Be A Good Day Because…

Do you believe in mantras or affirmations? I didn’t for a long time but I’m a believer now. I’ve seen the benefits firsthand and science supports how they can impact you. Each day at 5 am a message pops up on my phone that reads:

This is the day the Lord has made. I will be glad and rejoice in it.
Today will be a good day because I will approach everything with a positive attitude.
I will learn from every situation.

Depending on your belief system you may or may not appreciate or agree with the first line. That’s okay because we all have different views when it comes to faith. Let’s focus on the rest of the affirmation.

Today

I’ve heard it said if you’re standing with one foot in the past and one in the future you’re pissing on today. It’s a funny visual and I hope you’ll recall the following whenever you picture it: The past has shaped who you are today and the future will determine the kind of person you become. But, today is all you have and the only thing you can control are the choices you make.

Will be a good day

Good and bad are nothing more than a function of your mind. Shakespeare said as much when he wrote, “There’s nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” It’s not uncommon to hear people who’ve been through unbelievable hardship acknowledge that good came from their circumstances.

You can choose to make today a good day by making choices about what you see, listen to, do and set your mind on. You can choose to look for the positive in any situation. To think otherwise is to give up your freedom according to Viktor Frankl.

Because I will approach everything with a positive attitude.

Frankl knows a thing or two about freedom and captivity because he experienced both during his years in Nazi concentration camps. In Man’s Search for Meaning he told readers, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Frankl came to realize nobody could make him think anything he didn’t want to think; that he was always free to choose where he would place his thoughts.

I will learn from every situation.

The human brain is a learning machine. It’s how you learn what you like, dislike, who to trust, fear and love, and much more. You may not realize it but much of what you’ve learned came about passively. That passivity often leads to less than optimal thought patterns and behaviors.

I am far from perfect in living out this affirmation. Quite often I realize in the middle of a situation, or afterwards, that my attitude was not good. But, in that moment of realization I have a choice. I can blow it off by blaming someone or circumstances. Or, I can learn by ask myself why my attitude was poor and question what I can do to change it next time.

The more I do learn the better I get at maintaining a positive attitude. It’s almost like catching myself in the moment and saying, “Wait, I’ve been here before. I’m not going to make the same mistake.”

Conclusion

Affirmations have gotten a bad rap over time and are often mocked. That’s understandable, especially when charlatans use them to take advantage of people. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Focusing on what you want – a positive attitude and learning mindset in my case – is good! The more you set your mind on positive qualities the more likely you are to live them or correct for them.

The more you focus on positive qualities, the deeper they penetrate your subconscious. As this happens, before you know it you’re living them without having to be so intentional. That’s how your brain learns and directs you.

Here’s my challenge for you. Give thought this week to one or two qualities you want to have or have in greater measure. Make sure they will benefit you and those who are around you. Come up with your own affirmation and make it a part of your daily ritual early and often. Then pay attention to the impact it has on you and others.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – will be available for pre-sale on July 9and goes live on August 20.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalitiesthis fall.

An Elephant Never Forgets!

“An elephant never forgets,” might be a familiar saying to you. Parents often use the fun visual to motivate children to do their homework. But, do elephants really have good memories? They do according to elephant ecologist Stephen Blake, from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. That’s because, weighing more than 10 lbs., elephant brains are the largest of any land mammal!

In psychology, many social scientists and behavioral economists use the analogy of the rider and the elephant as a visual for the interplay between your conscious and subconscious thinking. The tiny rider represents your conscious thought processes trying to direct your day. The big elephant is representative of your subconscious, which actually drives most of your day.

While the rider has the ability to direct the elephant, it’s not hard to imagine the elephant resisting or going wherever it wants when it decides to. And, when the elephant chooses to do something, oftentimes there’s very little the rider can do to change the elephant’s mind.

For instance, you know you shouldn’t eat that piece of chocolate cake. But, your subconscious takes over and convinces you to take a bite. It does so for a host of reasons; you worked out extra today, you watched your diet all week, you love chocolate, one bite won’t hurt, you deserve it, etc.

Consider how your brain functions.

Behavioral scientists estimate anywhere from 85% to 95% of your daily decisions and behaviors are driven by your subconscious. That means nine out of every 10 things you think and/or do are not consciously thought out. That’s so because your brain relegates most of what it learns to your subconscious. In doing so you don’t have to “think” about what you’re doing.

Take brushing your teeth for example. You decide to do it but the mechanics of how you brush happen effortlessly. You’ve done it for so long you no longer have to think about how to brush your teeth. Going one step further, even “deciding” to brush your teeth may be a subconscious act depending on your routine.

Not having to think isn’t bad.

To quote Henry Ford, “Thinking is the hardest work, which is probably the reason why so few people engage it.” Ford was on to something because, despite only being about 2% of your bodyweight, your brain chews up around 20% of your calories in a typical day. When it’s engaged in active thought, it ramps up its use by nearly 400%! And you thought your car was an energy hog!

The routines you learn take on a life of their own and before you know it, those routines dictate much of your day. In other words, the elephant, not the rider, is deciding where to go and when. Even as you become aware, sometimes there’s very little your conscious rider can do.

Conclusion

The elephant never forgets and neither does your brain. That’s why change is so hard. If you’ve never smoked you’ve never had a craving for a cigarette and there’s nothing to forget. But, ask any smoker who’s quit and they’ll tell you the cravings and triggers never leave. The only thing you can do is replace an old habit with a new one. If you want to learn how to break old habits and form new ones look into one of the following resources because each is excellent:

Atomic Habits by James Clear

The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg

Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An 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 topic of ethical influence.

** Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – will be available for pre-sale on July 9 and goes live on August 20.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by nearly 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities this fall.

 

Peer Pressure – None of Us Fully Escapes It

When you were a kid did your parents ever say, “If everyone decided to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge would you?” Okay, perhaps they used something other than the famous bridge as an example but you get my point. They were trying to warn you against mindlessly going along with the crowd. Their concern was even greater when the crowd was doing something potentially harmful.

Call it peer pressure, social proof or consensus, but each describes the same thing; humans are pack animals. As such, we are heavily influenced by others; what they’re thinking, feeling and doing. Each impacts what we think, how we feel, and what we do. Sorry, but there’s no getting around it.

This jumped out a me once again when I read the following from Brian Kight, CEO of Focus 3, in his daily email:

First, you and I are not immune to peer pressure. It doesn’t matter your age, experience, or what group you belong to. Believing you’re above peer pressure only blinds you to how much it drives behavior. Group dynamics don’t decrease as we progress in our careers, they increase. In emotions, complexity, and consequences. Second, peer pressure always pulls you in one of two directions: it propels you forward or it pulls you back. It’s never neutral. Keeping it simple and true accelerates your awareness of how social scenarios affect you.

Brian is right (me and him!). As much as we like to see ourselves as individuals, we bend to the crowd more than we realize on many things. Deep inside us is the sense that “everyone can’t be wrong” and “there’s safety in numbers.” Why? If you go back in history things worked out well more often than not when people followed the crowd.

Now let me acknowledge this; great things usually don’t come from going along with everyone else. Great thinking, amazing inventions and social change usually come about when people choose to break from the pack. But, most people aren’t looking to do such monumental things. Our days are full of many mundane tasks and decisions. Couple that with the fact that a deeper, stronger drive survive and you get a sense of why consensus has such a grip on us. Here are a few examples:

  • You disagree with the strategic direction at work but don’t speak up because everyone else seems to be on board.
  • You’re at an event that’s so boring you can hardly wait for it to end. Despite your boredom, when everyone gives a standing ovation you stand and clap too.
  • A contentious social subject comes up (Trump, abortion, diversity, etc.) and, although you disagree with the majority, you don’t say speak up.

In each case you decided to go along to get along. Oh sure, you’ll rationalize your decision but the fact remains; you went along with the crowd. Going along with the crowd is like swimming in the ocean. You don’t realize how much the current pulls down the beach unless you fix your eyes on a stationary point on shore.

Conclusion

Going along with the crowd the majority of the time isn’t bad. In fact, quite often it’s good because it generally works out well. Indeed, over history those who stayed with the crowd were typically the ones who survived, thrived and passed along their genes.

However, you need to be careful when your gut is telling you otherwise. When you were younger it would not have been good to jump off a bridge just because other kids were doing it. As an adult sometimes you need to speak up, break from the crowd or go against the grain to be true to yourself and for your personal well-being.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence. Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical– will be available for pre-sale July 9and live on August 20.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by nearly 70,000 people! Have you watched them yet? Click a course title to see what you’ve been missing.

 

Hello Darkness My Old Friend – Volkswagen Overcoming Scandal

While watching the men’s U.S. Golf Open Championship this past weekend my attention was grabbed by the new Volkswagen commercial “Hello Light.” The commercial is easily the best I’ve seen in years! It’s eerie, dark, and set to Simon and Garfunkel’s classic folk rock song, The Sound of Silence. I encourage you to take a moment to watch it because I think you’ll be blown away.

You may recall, four years ago Volkswagen was embroiled in a scandal. The giant car manufacturer falsified emissions results in the lab for its turbo charged diesel engines. It turned out the engines actually emitted 40 times more nitrogen oxide in the real world than in the lab!

Until that point, Volkswagen had a great reputation with the public. They set themselves apart in the automotive industry in the 1960’s with the Volkswagen Beetle and Bus. However, their stock price fell from around $26 a share to about $10 in the wake of the scandal.

Here we are in 2019, and with the emissions scandal mostly behind them you might wonder why they would bring it up in their commercial. Because it will ultimately help them!

In the study of influence there’s a principle of persuasion known as authority. It describes the reality that people are more willing to follow the lead of people or companies that are viewed as authorities. Volkswagen enjoyed that status for many decades but lost the public’s trust in the wake of the scandal. That’s important because in order to leverage authority to move people to action you have to have expertise and trustworthiness.

It might seem counterintuitive to mention the scandal but it can actually help Volkswagen. Studies show, when you mention a weakness or own up to a mistake you’re seen as more trustworthy. By referencing the scandal Volkswagen is owning its mistake rather than hiding from it. In doing so they can regain some trust. They do this brilliantly near the end of the commercial when the following appears on screen; “In the darkness, we found the light.”

But you can’t just admit weakness and leave it there. If that’s all Volkswagen did then people would only talk about the emissions scandal. In order to turn the corner, the next step is to segue into a strength. By doing this people tend to remember the strength, not the weakness or mistake. In the case of Volkswagen, they end the commercial telling viewers they’re now making electric cars. With the move from diesel to electric cars the public doesn’t have to worry about emissions and pollution. No more emission producing cars, no more chance for emissions scandals.

Only time will tell if Volkswagen’s approach works but I’m betting it will. For the most part, people are forgiving with the passage of time when an organization or person apologizes. Enough time has passed since the scandal, the company has owned it, and they’re focusing the public on the fact that they’re moving in a new direction. Kudos to Volkswagen on all fronts.

Conclusion

Learn from Volkswagen and science. If you’ve made a mistake don’t try to cover it up, hope people won’t notice, or pray it will just go away. Own it! Make sure you mention your mistake early then use a transitional word like “but” or “however” to segue into a strength. In doing so you’ll be seen as more trustworthy and people will be far more likely to remember your strengths as opposed to weaknesses or mistakes.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence. Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – will be available for pre-sale July 9and goes live on August 20.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by nearly 70,000 people! Have you watched them yet? Click a course title to see what you’ve been missing.