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Persuasion and Influence Secrets

Persuasion and influence secrets

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to share with you the secrets of persuasion techniques that they don’t want you to know.

First a quick update:

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Now, let’s talk about the secrets to persuasion that they don’t want you to know, and before it is too late.

Did that sentence catch your attention? Did it want you to keep reading? I will explain why in a moment.

Recently, I presented a training program in Beverly Hills to Equinox fitness for their top sales executives on “The psychology of persuasion and communication.”

One of my principles is that the key to all persuasion is to understand the other person – to identify his or her needs and desires. When I know exactly what you want and what motivates you, I can appeal to that and it then becomes easier to sell to you (niche marketers use that principle.) If, for example, I know that your primary value is freedom, then whether I am selling you a car or a house, I will reinforce the ways that this car or this house offers you more freedom. Many sales people don’t ask questions to get to know you personally; instead, they tend to sell you on a list of pluses hoping one of those pluses will appeal to you.

A second key principle is that we like to pride ourselves on thinking that we are guided and motivated by our logic, but the opposite is true. There is an emotional benefit to all of our choices and decisions and therefore we are primarily motivated by emotion; The Pain and Pleasure principle – we move away from pain and towards pleasure. When your relationship becomes too painful and you see more joy and pleasure in ending it, you break up.

Robert B. Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.  His 2007 book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” has sold over 2 million copies, been translated into twenty-six languages and Fortune Magazine lists Influence in their “75 Smartest Business Books.”

In his book, Professor Cialdini identifies six “Weapons of Influence.” As I explain below, most of these are learned behaviors that go back to childhood and each one has an emotional drive or motivation:

1. Reciprocity – The old give and take…and take
People tend to return a favor. When someone does something nice for you, you tend to reciprocate. One emotional drive here is guilt as well as the learned response (“he’s been nice to me so I must be nice back.”) Have you noticed that in food malls they give you free samples – not just to convince you that it tastes good, but also to make you feel guilty and to engage you in reciprocity.

2. Commitment and Consistency – Hobgoblins of the Mind
Once people commit to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because it becomes a part of their self image –and once agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement even if the original incentive or motivation has been removed. People are also more willing to agree to requests that are consistent with their prior commitment. The emotional drive here is the social value of consistency (approval and conformity) and the benefit of consistency in helping us to make new decisions which are actually based on our past patterns of behavior.

3. Social Proof – Truths Are Us
Remember, the old expression, “Monkey see, monkey do”? People will do things that they see other people are doing. Yes, we copy each other and we tend to conform. Studies show that people will tend to change their opinions when they hear the majority opinion – even if the majority opinion is wrong. The emotional drive here is approval, acceptance, conformity, being liked. In 2009, Vasily Klucharev, postdoctoral fellow at the F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in the Netherlands, led a study that reveals that when people take on an opinion different to others in a group, a part of the brain associated with learning produces an error signal. A part of the brain that registers mistakes often referred to as the “oops area” sparks, and the “reward area” slows down, thus making us conclude and feel that we are being too different. “We show that a deviation from the group opinion is regarded by the brain as a punishment,” said Vasily Klucharev. Consequently, most people will change their mind and opinions. Read my newsletter from November 2009, “The Power of No!”.

4. Authority – Directed Deference
People tend to obey authority figures – often almost blindly – even if it involves an objectionable act. American Social Psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted experiments in the 1960s and 1970s in which most people obeyed orders to deliver gradual electric shocks and eventually electric shocks of 450 volts to an innocent person in the next room – in spite of the screams of agony from the person receiving the shocks. The participants caved into social pressure, almost resulting in blind obedience and thus going against their own previous moral convictions and conscience. The emotional drives were conformity, acceptance and obedience to a perceived authority figure.

5. Liking – The Friendly Thief
People are easily persuaded by other people that they like; we tend to buy from people we like – sometimes we will even pay more, drive further and possibly even accept a lesser quality product when we like the person and if that person has been really good to us (Reciprocity.) it is for this reason that advertisers pay millions to celebrities to endorse their products, and once the celebrity loses favor with the public, the companies immediately drop the celebrities. Familiarity and physical attractiveness also add to the ability to influence. A third component is ‘association’ – we associate pleasure with this person, we want to emulate them or we think they are similar to us. A reporter from Adweek magazine interviewed me this week to discuss the portrayal of men in the media & advertising and to discuss a new viral video campaign – Absolut Vodka hired Zach Galifianakis and two comedians (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) to create funny videos for the web using the Absolut Vodka in any way they want. Why? “Liking” and association: ‘we are similar – I am goofy and so are they.’ The emotional drive here is bonding through shared values and attitudes; the more similar we are and the more we have in common, the more we like each other, and; the desire to emulate someone appealing.

6. Scarcity – The Rule of the Few
This is one of the most powerful persuasion techniques and weapons. Perceived scarcity generates demand. Do you know someone that comes home with their bag full of goods from a big sale or from the bargain basement, and, they didn’t even need the stuff? They bought it because they didn’t want to miss out. Did you notice my sentence above when I used the expression “before it is too late”? Another example is the sales and offers that say “limited time only.” The emotional drive here is fear of loss, being left out or being ignored. A friend of mine gobbles up his food in literally a matter of a few minutes; so fast he can barely taste it. Why? He grew up with many siblings and if he didn’t eat quickly, his siblings would get all of the food.

Do you recall my opening sentence?

“Now, let’s talk about the secrets to persuasion that they don’t want you to know, and before it is too late.” Notice, I appealed to Scarcity when I said “secrets” and “before it is too late.”  And then in another sentence, I established Authority and Social Proof by mentioning that I trained “top sales executives” in “Beverly Hills”:

When you understand the six weapons of influence, you can engage in healthy skepticism and critical thinking. Meanwhile, you have to follow me on Twitter. Why? Because I’ve done you a favor with this newsletter and you owe it to me. You can’t say you’re a rational person if you don’t because everyone else is following me on Twitter. And as you are probably already aware – I’m attractive, friendly, similar to you, and you like me. I’m a human behavior expert and I recommend you follow me on Twitter. And you need to do it now before you get left behind or you miss out! Twitter: @Behavior_Expert

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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