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What’s Your Worldview?

I’ve been thinking about my “worldview” lately so I’ll pose this question to you, “What’s your worldview?” When I think of the term “worldview,” I think about how people try to make sense of what they observe others doing. I’m a pretty religious person and I have a worldview that first and foremost centers around my Christian faith. My faith colors perception of the here and now as well as the afterlife. But I also view things through another lens – influence.

Let me explain a bit further. I’m curious about why people do the things they do. I’m also interested in getting people to go along with my ideas and suggestions. Just like you, I want to hear people say “Yes” when I ask them to do something. That person could be my wife, my daughter, a coworker, vendor or the checkout person at the store.

I was working with someone today and we covered material on influence. I told this person about the science behind influence. I didn’t want her to think it was just grandma’s good advice (not that grandma’s advice was bad; she seems to have been right most of the time!) because it was grounded in real life scientific studies. Those studies don’t give me the ability to predict what you or any other person will do in particular situations because we are complex beings with a lifetime of experiences that shape us and our behaviors. But, I can say with certainty that I communicate with confidence and take certain actions because I know my influence approaches will make me more successful on the whole.

There’s more than 60 years of social science to back up my last statement. If you pick up Influence Science and Practice, Yes: 50 Ways Proven Ways to be Persuasive, Maximum Influence or any number of other books on influence and persuasion you’ll see the studies. For example, one restaurant owner saw no shows dropped from 30% to 10% because of two simple words. In another study nearly twice as many people completed a survey because of something they were asked immediately prior to the survey request. Or how about the person who saw a 610% increase in sales because he instructed his salespeople to include some truthful, relevant information!

I can’t tell you how many people will attend your next meeting and I certainly can’t tell you which specific people will say “Yes.” However, I can tell you things to do, and things to avoid, so you’ll know you have the best chance of maximizing attendance. I can’t tell you if you say or do one particular thing that your child will clean her room or your boss will give you a raise. But I can tell you things you can do that will increase the odds of both.

Because I’ve seen the studies and experienced the results personally, I’m a believer! My worldview helps me explain an awful lot of why people do what they do. Not everything can be explained by reciprocity, liking, consensus, authority, consistency and scarcity but I’m amazed by how much can!

Earlier I wrote that a worldview was in essence the lens through which I view much of the world. I remember when I was a teenager getting glasses. I didn’t realize my eyesight was poor until I went to the optometrist. I simply figured everyone saw things the way I did. When I got that first set of glasses – WOW! All of a sudden I could see blades of grass, leaves on trees and so much other detail. I didn’t realize what I was missing. That’s what the lens of influence has done for me. I’m not interested in doing research; I’m interested in understanding it so I can make sense of the world around me and the actions of others. I also enjoy taking the concepts and applying them to different situations to see if they can make me or my coworkers more successful. Now, because of this blog I get an opportunity to go beyond those boundaries. Thanks to Google Analytics, I can see people in nearly 40 countries follow this blog. That excites me!

So I guess this week’s post wasn’t so much about persuasion tips as it was insight into my mind, my worldview. I would like to take this time to say thanks to all of you who read, who’ve commented and who’ve emailed me with questions or to just say how much you’ve enjoyed reading. That means a lot to me and without a doubt makes my day. Keep looking for posts every Monday at 5:30 p.m.

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Coming to Terms

I thought it would be good time to review some influence and persuasion terms with you. A few of these you’ve seen in some past blogs and others you will certainly see in future posts.

Understanding and ethically applying these psychological principles doesn’t guarantee everybody will do what you want. After all, they don’t represent some kind of magic wand. However, I can say with certainty; if you employee these more strategically and regularly you will hear more people say “Yes!” to your requests.

As you read through these you might think, “That doesn’t apply to me” or “I don’t fall for that.” That assessment may be true quite often but certainly not all the time. To get you to critically think it through I’ve added a question after each principle to give you cause to pause and think. While you may have seen right through some manipulative person’s attempts to persuade you, I’m willing to bet there are other times where you were influenced into action without even knowing it.

Reciprocity – Some might describe reciprocity as the “good old give and take principle” or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” This principle describes the internal pressure we all feel to return the favor. At its most extreme it might be the person trying to think of a way to repay someone who saved their life. For most of us it’s as simple as picking up the tab at a restaurant because our friend got it last time. Have you ever sent someone a Christmas card because they sent you one first? If so, it’s because of reciprocity.

Liking – In business there’s a saying, “People like to do business with people they like.” Jeffrey
Gitomer, sales trainer and author, likes to say, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” We like to be around people we like and they naturally have more influence on us than those we don’t know or don’t like. In turn, the more likable we are the more persuasive we’ll be. Have you ever bought something because a good friend recommended the product or service?

Consensus – A farmer would say we’re like cattle because we like to “mooove” with the crowd. When we see lots of people taking action, or people just like us, quite often that’s enough to get us to go along with the crowd. You’ll also hear consensus referred to as “social proof.” Be honest now; have you ever stood up during a standing ovation when truthfully, you didn’t think the performance deserved it? If so, it’s because you were moved along by the actions of others.

Authority – We don’t have enough time to weigh all the decisions that come our way so quite often we defer to people we view as authorities, or experts. In fact we do so with such regularity that studies show our brain activity actually slows down when experts tell us what to do! In other words, critical reasoning can go right out the door! Experts need not be actual people either. Have you bought something, perhaps a car or major appliance, primarily because Consumer Reports rated the vehicle high?

Consistency – We all feel an internal pressure to live up to our promises. We feel good about ourselves when our words and deeds match, when we’ve done what we said we would. Have you ever found yourself doing something, not because you really wanted to (i.e., help someone move), but because you gave your word?

Scarcity – When we sense something is becoming less available or diminishing in some way, there’s something in us that all of a sudden wants the thing even more. When was the last time you rushed out to the store because you suddenly remembered, “Sale Ends Sunday!”? If that was you it’s because you were motivated by the potential loss of an opportunity.

Compare and Contrast – Did you know two things can appear more different than they really are depending on how they are presented? Considered for a moment how that might impact your decision making. For example, you go to the store to buy something and you’re not sure what that item might cost. When you arrive you see a sign that states, “Normally $150, now only $99!” By comparison $99 appears to be a very good deal. I’ve hear people justify purchases like that because “it was too good a deal to pass up.”

So there you have it, the layman’s overview of several psychological principles than affect us all to one degree or another every day. Most of the time these principles impact us in such subtle ways that we’re not aware of it and yet they’re major factors in our decision making. As we continue our journey together I think your eyes will be opened to how politicians, marketers, salesmen and so many others try to persuade you to do what they want.

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

What Chevy Chase Didn’t Do Before Vacation

I’m sure many of you reading this remember the classic movie Vacation where Chevy Chase played the well meaning but inept family man, Clark Griswold. This week I’m going to share a principle of influence with you then give you a great idea, something Clark Griswold probably didn’t do but you can.

Did you know most people are more motivated by what they stand to lose as opposed to what they might gain? That’s right, people presented with the same opportunity will take you up on that opportunity more often when it’s presented in terms of what they might lose rather than what they stand to gain or save. For example, talking about the money someone might save using your product will not be as big a motivator to buy the product as it would be if you told them how much money they’ll lose if they don’t buy it. “Mr. Customer, if you install our thermal sealed windows you’ll save $300 on your electric bill over the next year,” will not sell as many windows as, “Mr. Customer, if you don’t use our thermal sealed windows you’ll end up paying $300 more on your electric bill over the next year.” It’s really the same thing just stated in a different way.

This all goes back to a psychological principle of persuasion known as scarcity. We are motivated to action when we see something that’s rare or when we believe something will suddenly become less available. It creates in us a greater desire for the thing that’s perceived to be scarce. If you doubt that just think about how much we take people for granted until we lose them or fear we might lose them.

Okay, so perhaps you’re wondering, “How does scarcity tie into Vacation and Clark Griswold?” As I write this we’ve unofficially entered summer because we’re into the first week of June. For those with families it means kids will soon be out of school and summer vacations are just around the corner. That also means many of you will leave work for a week or two in the coming months. You can tap into the scarcity principle to make your vacation a little more enjoyable, provide great customer service and possibly land (or prevent losing) some accounts.

In the past, before you’ve left for vacation, have you ever contacted all of your customers a week in advance to let them know you’d be gone? If you haven’t don’t feel bad because I’m willing to bet 99.9% of people don’t do that even though email and customer lists make it very easy to do. Most people simply tell co-workers they’ll be gone, change their voicemail and turn on the out-of-office message. Think for a moment about what would happen if you took the extra time to contact your customers to let them know a week in advance that you’ll be gone and when they can expect you back.

Doing this allows you to tap into scarcity because I guarantee customers will call or email you very quickly saying something like, “Thanks for letting me know you’d be gone because I really need to talk with you about…”

You may not have ever considered this before but you are a scarce resource because many people depend on you. If those people know you won’t be around much longer that simple fact will change their behavior just like your behavior is changed when you hear or read, “Sale Ends Sunday” or “Only While Supplies Last!”

 

With those calls and emails come your opportunities to land new business and possibly prevent losing some. After all, if a customer needs you they might not want to talk with someone else in your absence. To them that could be the right time to give the other guy, the one who’s begged for their business, a chance. But you can prevent that from happening!

 

And here’s another cool thing. When those people thank you, it’s your chance to strengthen your personal brand so don’t blow them off with something stupid like, “No problem” or “I’d have done it for anyone.” Both of those statements devalue what you’ve just done for them.

 

A better response would be, “That’s part of the great service you can expect when you deal with me. Can I ask you a quick question? Don’t your other suppliers (reps, agents, etc.) let you k
now in advance when they’ll be gone and when they’ll be back?” The answer to that will be, “No, they don’t.” Bingo, you’ve not bad mouthed the competition but you’ve set yourself apart by comparing what you do to what your competitors don’t do.

 

Maybe if Clark Griswold had done this he would have been a little farther up the food chain at work and could have afforded some nicer vacations!

 

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Make Your Next Event the One Everybody Attends

As a kid I remember my mom saying things come in threes. I don’t know if there’s any scientific validity to that but it always seemed like famous people died in sets of three. Right or wrong, superstition or coincidence, what my mom said stuck with me. So, when I recently noticed three similar things occurring in a relatively short period of time I thought I should write about it in this week’s blog.

What I’m going to share might just help your next event be a little more successful, and a little better attended, because of the power of persuasion.

A good friend asked me to review an invitation she was getting ready to send for an upcoming webinar. Part of the invitation read as follows:

“Registration limited to only 20 organizational teams, and 4 teams have already signed up.”

Mentioning the limited seating was good use of the principle of scarcity because people are motivated to act when things they want appear to be limited, rare or dwindling. The fact that only 20 teams would get to participate should motivate people to sign up rather quickly so they won’t miss out on what could be a great learning opportunity.

However, mentioning only four teams had signed up was working against my friend because it was not a motivator to sign up. In fact, it was a demotivator because it goes counter to another principle of influence known as consensus.
Consensus is the name for the psychological principle that tells us people look to others when deciding what actions to take, especially when they’re not quite sure what to do. With kids we call it “peer pressure” but that same psychological pressure is at work on us as adults, too. If we see many people, or people similar to ourselves, doing something, we tend believe it’s probably the right thing to do and quite often we go along with the crowd. If you don’t believe that then ask yourself why you stood up last time there was a standing ovation for some event that really, you didn’t particularly care for.
Consensus can help motivate people to action but it can also work in reverse. If we don’t see many people doing something then we might not be inclined to do it either. For example, talking about what a shame it is that so many people don’t vote only legitimizes not voting in the minds of many people. As far as my friend’s invitation, although four registered teams before the official invitation went out was a good thing, my advice was to change the wording, or remove it altogether, because people receiving the invitation might see that as a lack of participation and decide not to sign up.
At the beginning of this week’s posting I said three things came to my attention so here are the other two. These were also invitations to public events but they differed slightly from the previous example. When I went to sign up for these events there was a section at the bottom of each registration page with a list of attendees. Because I went to the registration sites as soon as I got the email invitations I noticed there were no attendees listed on either Web page. Falling back on my understanding of consensus I knew that was not going to motivate anyone to sign up and could actually be a deterrent.
As I’ve been writing this I just saw another invitation, this for a networking event, and 53 were signed up to attend and another 21 were interested. Those numbers will most likely entice others to join the crowd.
Consider this for just a moment; what would you think if you went to register for some event you thought was going to be a big deal but only saw a couple of people on the guest list? You might not feel the event will be worth your time. So here’s my suggestion; if you use Web sites that allow you to show people who’ve registered, don’t show the list until some critical mass is achieved. Otherwise it will probably work against you. Doing this might just make your next event the one everybody wants to attend!
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
influencepeople 
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
influencepeople 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

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.