Cruising along with Influence, Part 2

When I made my last posting I mentioned my wife, Jane, and I were leaving for a cruise. We enjoyed a five-day, four-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas in the Western Caribbean. We had a great time and, on top of that, I got my idea for this week’s Influence PEOPLE posting!

When I teach the two-day Principles of Persuasion workshop one of the six principles of influence I talk about is the principle of consensus. Consensus tells us people generally look to others to determine how they should act in different situations. We tend to take our cues from large groups of people or people we see as similar to ourselves. If you’re a parent with teens you might call this “peer pressure.” No matter how you label it, the reality is we’re heavily influenced by the actions of others, particularly when we’re not quite sure what to do.

A study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of different messaging in an effort to get hotel guests to reuse their towels rather than have them washed and get new ones each day when staying for more than one night. Door hangers were used to try to accomplish this. One door hanger used a message with only an environmental appeal, “Help Save the Environment,” followed by some information on the importance of the environment. We live in a time when going green is important so this message was somewhat effective; towel reuse went up 37.2%.

A second message was tested, one that engaged the principle of consensus. The wording at the top of the second door hanger read, “Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping Save the Environment.” Beneath the heading it went on to mention 75% of guests had participated in the new towel reuse program. When this message was used towel reuse rate increased to 44.0%.

The hotel was committed to doing something to motivate its guests to help save the environment so the cost of the door hangers was a constant. The real consideration was how to best make the appeal and get the desired behavior. As you saw with the experiment, tapping into what others were doing was the better form of motivation because it resulted in an 18.3% increase over the environmental only appeal. Now that you know this, which message would you use if you were in charge of soliciting the help of others to go green?

So what does this have to do with the cruise Jane and I were just on? Royal Caribbean participates in a program known as “Save the Waves.” Because of the towel reuse study, Royal Caribbean’s “Save the Waves” placard hanging in the bathroom caught my eye. Here’s how it read,

Protect Our Oceans At Royal Caribbean, reducing waste and conserving resources such as water and electricity is a large part of the company’s Save the Waves program. You can help us reduce waste generated by laundering and conserve water by using your towel more than once. Simply place the towel on the rack to indicate: “I’ll use again.” Place the towel on the floor to indicate: “Please exchange.”

I give Royal Caribbean an “A” for effort — helping the environment is a good thing — but only a “C” for execution. With almost 40 ships in its fleet and a capacity of 79,000 passengers at any one time, approximately four million passengers cruise with Royal Caribbean each year. Increasing towel reuse and decreasing electricity usage for 5%, 10%, perhaps even 20% more passengers can have a huge overall impact on the ocean and the Royal Caribbean’s expenses.Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t work for a hotel or cruise line so what’s this have to do with me?” Each of us has countless opportunities to influence people every day and too often we don’t leverage the science of influence which means we’re not as successful as we could be. If a huge corporation like Royal Caribbean, which has a lot at stake with helping preserve the environment and reducing expenses, can miss a golden opportunity, who are we to think we’re not missing them too, especially when we have so much less on the line?

As I noted last week, this is the type of real world application I’ll be sharing with you as we continue this persuasion journey together. I welcome your feedback so click on the comments link below and let me know what you thought of this week’s article.


Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Cruising along with Influence

With influence we’re focusing on Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. How exactly can we do that? My wife and I are going on a cruise this week so I can share a couple of real examples from cruises we went on in the past.

Many years ago while cruising we had a full day at sea which meant all the action was going to be poolside that day. Knowing that, we arrived at the pool early so we could get couple of lounge chairs and save a few seats for some fellow State Auto employees. Success was ours as we landed several lounge chairs right next to the pool!

Late morning we decided to go play a bingo ticket because it was potentially worth $5000. The odds of winning were slim but scarcity, the fear of losing out on the chance for the big prize, motivated us to go to the bingo area and play the odds.
We were gone approximately 30-45 minutes and when we got back to the pool, low and behold, people were laying on our chairs! I politely asked them to move because they were sitting in our chairs but they refused. I reminded them the clothes, books and other items they’d put at the foot of the chairs were ours and they were obvious indicators the chairs were being used.
They refused to move and the young pool attendant would not help us out because he said we’d been gone more than 30 minutes. Without going into more detail, suffice it to say, the exchange that took place about the loss of the poolside chairs pretty much ruined our afternoon.

So what’s this have to do with persuasion? Plenty, because after learning about persuasion we were able to avoid a repeat performance. The following year we were facing the same situation, a day at sea which meant another early trip to the pool. As we enjoyed the morning a young couple took one of the last lounge chairs available which happened to be next to us. While the wife leisurely stretched out and enjoyed the sun her husband was relegated to sitting at the foot of the lounger as he read his book.

When lunch rolled around we wanted to go to the schooner lounge to eat. Leary of coming back to no chairs I turned to the young couple as asked, “Would you mind watching our things because we want to grab some lunch?” As any nice couple would, they agreed.

Because I understood the psychology of persuasion I knew I’d tapped into something called consistency. Consistency is the psychological pressure we all feel when it comes to our words and deeds. When we give our word we feel good about ourselves when we keep it. How do you think that young couple would have felt if we’d come back to find strangers sunning on our chairs? If they’re like most people they’d feel bad. I was banking on the fact that no one wants to feel that way and it would prompt them to take appropriate actions to ensure the chairs were waiting for us when we returned.

After they agreed to watch our chairs I told the young man he was welcome to stretch out on one of our chairs while we were gone, which he was eager to do. Now that I’d given him something I’d engaged reciprocity, the psychological principle where we feel obligated to give back to someone who’s given us something. Because I’d given him use of our chairs I knew he’d be even more likely make sure no one tried to take our place.

I got a double whammy for my efforts because I engaged consistency and reciprocity. What you’ll find is quite often it’s possible to bring multiple influence principles to bear in a situation and when you can do so it significantly increases the odds of hearing someone say “Yes” when you make a request.

As you might expect, we enjoyed our lunch and returned to the pool later to find our lounge chairs waiting for us which made for a great afternoon! These are the types of real world application I plan to share as you continue this persuasion journey with me. I welcome your feedback so just click on the comments link below to let me know what you thought of this week’s article.

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Why Influence is all about PEOPLE

In my first post I shared my perspective that Influence is all about PEOPLE. I say that because we don’t try to persuade things. Dale Carnegie had it right when he wrote, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you’re in business.” When it comes to PEOPLE I encourage you to think about the about:

Opportunities to
Persuade that are
Lasting and

Let’s examine the PEOPLE perspective in more detail today.

Powerful: Who says influence is powerful? Take a look at what a few well known people from history had to say about persuasion.

“Persuasion is often more effective than force.” Aesop
“If I can persuade, I can move the universe.” Frederick Douglass
“Persuasion is the art of getting people to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.” Aristotle

In addition to those intelligent people, today we have more than 60 years of social science, including Dr. Robert Cialdini’s research, to tangibly prove just how powerful persuasion can be.

Everyday: Unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway you interact with people every single day. Quite often in your communication with others you make requests hoping to hear “Yes!” Nobody goes it alone, especially the highly successful. 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; what you’ll learn applies at work with your boss, direct reports, coworkers, vendors and customers. And, it applies equally well at home because influence helps with your parents, significant other, children, neighbors and anyone else you come in contact with.

Opportunities: In virtually every communication you have there will be opportunities for you to do seemingly little things just a bit different and reap big rewards. For example, wouldn’t you be interested to find out what the Cancer Society did to increase their volunteer rate 700% in one area of town or how Easter Seals doubled the number of donors?

Lasting: Sometimes your interaction with another person is “one and done” but quite often it’s an ongoing relationship. In those relationships you don’t want to go back to the drawing board time after time. No, you want to have communications that change people’s thinking and behavior for the long haul.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the power of persuasion to create a lasting effect when 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.”

Ethical: According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary one definition of manipulate is, “to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner” which isn’t so bad and yet another is, “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

Manipulation – the word makes most of us bristle because it connotes taking advantage of another person. I’m confident in writing this next statement – no one likes to be manipulated. I’m reasonably certain the vast majority of people don’t want to be known as manipulators either.

Think about the following quote from The Art of WOO by Richard Shell & Mario Moussa, “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.”

What you will learn about influence and persuasion is powerful stuff and in the wrong hands it can lead to taking advantage of others. But the people who would do that would also try to manipulate others apart for learning persuasion techniques. I’m going to help you see it can be done right, allowing you to keep your self-esteem in tact and your head held high.

I appreciate you taking another step on this journey with me. As always, I welcome your feedback.

Brian, CMCT 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Influence is all about PEOPLE

This is my first attempt at blogging so please bear with me. In due time I’ll learn more about effective blogging and hopefully you’ll learn more about effective influence and persuasion. Experience and science give me confidence to make the following assertion; if you try some of the things I’ll be sharing with you, over time you will enjoy more success whether at home or at work.

I’m passionate about influence and persuasion so it’s only natural that I share that passion with all of you. I am a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT), currently one of about two dozen people worldwide who are licensed to teach Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 2-day Principles of Persuasion workshop. Dr. Cialdini is the foremost expert in the area of influence. He’s the author of Influence: Science and Practice, the gold standard for persuaders, and recently co-authored Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be More Persuasive along with Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin.

When I talk to groups about the subject of influence I tell them influence is all about PEOPLE…because we don’t try to persuade things. No matter how good my communications skills might be, I cannot persuade my lawnmower to start on its own. But, I might be able to persuade my daughter to start it for me and cut the grass…if my approach is right. Every day, all day long we’re interacting with people trying to get them to do things and there are proven ways to go about it to increase your odds of success.

When I refer to influencing PEOPLE here’s what I want you to think about:

Opportunities to
Persuade that are
Lasting and

In the coming blogs we’ll dig into each of these words and I’ll show you ways to tap into those Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical so you can become a more effective persuader.

I appreciate you taking the time to start this journey with me and welcome your feedback.

Brian, CMCT 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Principle of Reciprocity

Reciprocity means, “A mutual exchange.” As a principle of influence it could be described in layman’s terms as the good old “give and take” principle or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” When someone does something for us we typically feel obligated to do something for them in return, to return the favor, so to speak.

You’re probably familiar with all this but you may not realize just how powerfully the principle of reciprocity works on you. Quite often it gets you to do things without you even realizing it! Answer each of the following questions:

  • Have you ever invited someone to a social gathering (party, wedding, graduation, etc.) because they invited you to a similar event?
  • Have you sent Christmas cards to people because they sent you one first?
  • Have you ever donated money to an organization because you received a “free” gift, like mailing labels?
  • If you’ve been to a home party (candles, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc.), did you buy something because you would have felt bad not doing so, especially because you were served food and given some gift?
  • During the holidays, have you ever bought Christmas wrapping paper, cards or some other holiday items from kids in the neighborhood because their parents bought things from your kids at some point in time?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then reciprocity was influencing your actions. There is something ingrained in all of us by society from the time we’re young that says it’s only right to return the favor. When you do something for me, I feel obligated to do something for you.

It’s important to understand how the ball gets rolling when it comes to this principle. That happens when you take initiative and act first in a situation.

In a sense you’re giving a gift. That gift could be tangible or intangible but the point is this – your act is usually met in kind by the other person.

As we explore influence you’ll come to learn that gifts are most influential when they have some value, are meaningful to the other person and come unexpectedly.

One last, important point about the principle of reciprocity has to do with concessions.

When someone says “no” to you, if you immediately come back with another request, many times the person will feel obligated to meet you halfway because you’re making the first move.

The Principle of Liking

The Liking Principle is obvious to most of us – people like to do business with people they like. Or, as Jeffrey Gitomer says, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things not being so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”

For that matter, almost anything we do in life we prefer doing with people we like and enjoy being around. What’s not so obvious is how we get people to like us more. Actually, it may surprise you to learn that the key to the liking principle isn’t so much about getting others to like us; it’s really about us coming to like them. Too often people are concerned with doing whatever it takes to get people to like them, failing to realize if they genuinely like the person they’re with, that person will sense it and naturally reciprocate.

What can you do to bring this about? There are three specific things: focus on similarities, give compliments and look for cooperative efforts. We’ll take a quick look at each of these.

Ever notice how people who like the same sports teams have a natural connection? Or people who own the same car? The same could be said of so many things and so many interests. What you need to do is keep an eye out for those things you have in common with the person you’re with. Raise those commonalities to the surface and you’ll begin to form a liking connection.

Let’s be honest, we all enjoy a compliment…even when we see it as pure flattery. But, you don’t have to give a dishonest compliment because there’s always something sincere you can compliment someone about (an outfit, a tie, an award, their office, etc.). By looking for the good in someone you will naturally tend to like them a little more. They’ll appreciate the compliment and in turn come to like you more as well.

Working together toward a goal, a cooperative effort, helps people set aside their differences because of the task at hand. Even if we felt like we didn’t like the other person we’re with, quite often we start finding out “they’re not so bad after all” as we get to know them when we work together. As our walls come down so do theirs and liking happens.

So, if you want to get more done at work, or in life overall, then try liking the people with whom you associate more. You can’t necessarily make them like you but you can choose to focus on what you have in common rather than your differences. You can make a conscious effort to look for the good in them rather than their flaws. And lastly, you can try to work in harmony with them. Do those simple things and you’ll like that other person a little more. Will everyone respond in kind? No, but many will and that will make your life a little easier and make you a bit more successful.


The Principle of Consensus

The Principle of Consensus tells us, when people are unsure how to act in certain situations, they tend to look to others to see how they should respond. It makes me think about the old saying, “There’s safety in numbers.”

For example, when making a major purchase on something we don’t know lots about, we just feel better when we know there have been many other satisfied customers. After all, what are the chances all those people were all wrong?

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you know this principle is true because you’re constantly warning against “peer pressure” when it’s related to bad choices. During their teens, kids look to other kids for their cues on how to talk, dress and act.

Even though they may see themselves as different, to adults most teenagers look and act alike. The reality is, teens may be different than their parents but they’re just the same as their friends.

How can understanding the consensus principle help you? Two ways. First, just share with people whose behavior you’re trying to influence how lots of other people are already doing what you’re asking them to do.

The second way would be to share with them what people like them are doing. We are very motivated to want to move with the crowd because we’ve been taught there’s safety in numbers.

The Principle of Authority

“If an expert says it, then it must be true,” is the basis of the Authority Principle.

Why is it so often the case that we believe the perceived experts? We live in a time when more information than ever is available at our finger tips because of the Internet, and that’s good. Unfortunately, we’re so overloaded with information and so busy with our lives that most of us simply don’t have enough time to digest it all. So, we look for shortcuts. One shortcut is to look to see what the experts have to say about our question.

Studies show that people are more likely to comply with a request when it comes from an expert. That means you’re more likely to make a change in your eating habits, or begin an exercise program, if a doctor tells you to make the change, than if a friend or even a nurse makes the suggestion.

Another example would be Consumer Reports. Many of you reading this may be regular subscribers to Consumer Reports because it’s a trusted “expert.”

Consumer Reports takes vast amounts of information on various products and pares it down so you can make quick, easy decisions as to which products to purchase. If Consumer Reports gives a poor rating to a product, most likely it won’t be a big seller.

Knowing this, how can you make authority work for you? People are typically seen as experts because of their knowledge and trustworthiness.

You can increase your trustworthiness, and thus authority, by admitting a weakness early on. But, be sure to share your strength afterwards so they remember the strength more than the weakness.

A weakness can be as simple as, “I’m not sure about the answer to that question. Would you mind if I did a little research and called you back?”

After you’ve done your homework, and call back with the answer, cite your resources (hopefully experts) and your chances for success have just gone up significantly.

Speaking of resources, you can also establish your authority by citing other experts.

How many times has it been the case that you shared information and forgot to share the source of the information? If you don’t cite the resource, what you share may be seen as your opinion and nothing more.

You may not realize it but you are influenced by things like:

  • Dress – People in uniforms or those who are well dressed tend to get their way more often.
  • Titles – If someone has credentials (CPCU, CPA, Dr., etc.) we tend to listen to them more.
  • Trappings – Even things like fine jewelry or the car you drive do make a difference.
  • Experience – The longer someone has been at something, the more we defer to their expertise.

So there you have it, a quick overview of authority.

The Principle of Consistency

If you had to sum up the Principle of Consistency I suppose you could say this, “People generally want to be consistent in word and deed.” Think about a time you gave your word but did not do what you’d promised. How did you feel? If you’re like most people, you didn’t feel too good and probably try to avoid that feeling next time you give your word.

Knowing other people probably feel the same way, how can you make the consistency principle work for you? Simple; because people are more likely to do something that’s consistent with what they’ve openly professed before, attitudes they already hold or something they’ve done in the past, your odds for success increase significantly if you can get them to commit to you. The easiest way to go about this is to ask a question and wait for a response.

Parents, how often have you gone through this scenario: your child’s room is a mess so you say, “Clean your room!” If your child is like most, you walk by the room later in the day only to find it just as messy…if not worse! When you ask him why the room isn’t clean, typical responses include, “I didn’t hear you” or “I didn’t know you wanted me to do it right away” or “I was going to in a minute!”

Next time try asking this question, “Will you please clean your room?” The key is to then wait for the verbal reply. If you don’t hear a reply, just ask the question again. Will your child always clean the room after saying “yes?” No, but by simply asking a question rather than issuing a command engages the principle of consistency and your odds for success have increased greatly.

In Dr. Cialdini’s book, Influence: Science and Practice, he cites a study in which researchers had someone put a radio on a blanket next to another person, and then left for a brief time. Shortly thereafter, a “thief” came along and took the radio. They repeated this scenario 20 times and only four people intervened in any way.

But, when the experiment was repeated and the person putting the radio down asked the other person “to watch my things,” 19 out of 20 times the strangers intervened when the “thief” came along! The only difference was getting a verbal commitment!

Simply asking questions rather than making statements is the best way to engage the principle of commitment and consistency.

The Principle of Scarcity

Scarcity boils down to this for most people — if I can’t have it, then I want it! If something is scarce that means it’s not plentiful and usually difficult to come by. It’s amazing how people respond differently when they suddenly know something they want is in short supply or may not be around for long.

If you’ve raised kids then you’ve definitely seen this principle at work. Just tell your child what toy they can’t have and suddenly it’s the only toy they want to play with! Or tell them what they can’t do and that’s all they’ll want to do!

As you read the following, answer the questions based on your personal experience:

  • Have you hurried out to a store because you heard the sale ends Sunday?
  • Did you ever buy a Disney DVD for your kids because “soon it will go back into the
  • Disney vault?”
  • Have you ever bought something for your home (roof, gutters, siding, paint) because the salesman said you can save 10%, if you signed right then?
  • Do you buy gas now when the price hits $2.25 because you think it will go to $2.50 (or higher) over the weekend?
  • Have you ever bought something on the Home Shopping Network because the little clock on the screen was ticking away?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions then scarcity was influencing your decisions. It’s natural for us to hurry and make decisions because the thing we want is becoming less available or is in short supply.

Research on this subject lets us in on something else important. People are generally more motivated by knowing what they stand to lose as opposed to what they stand to gain. For example, saying, “If you choose not to buy our product, you will lose $500 dollars a year” will motivate more people to buy the product than will be motivated by saying, “If you buy our product you will save $500 a year.” If you know you’ll have more success using the first sentence, wouldn’t you want to do so?

Now you have a brief overview of the scarcity principle.