50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive NOTES

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    Yes!50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasiveby Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin & Robert B. Cialdini

    Every day you face the challenge of persuading others to do whatyou want. And, chances are, you're pretty good at it ... most of thetime. But when it comes right down to it, do you honestly have anyidea what makes people say "yes" to your requests? Is it becauseyou're a nice person? Because you speak with authority? Dress well ...?

    As it turns out, at any given time, there are hundreds (if not thousands), ofinterconnected factors that can influence whether someone is more likely to beagreeable or disagreeable to your requests. Many of these factors are nebulousand/or outside of your control, which leads many people to conclude that"persuasion is an art." But persuasion is also a science, and researchers who

    study it for a living are slowly but surely uncovering new sets of tools andtechniques for moving people in your direction.

    Professor Robert B. Cialdini of Arizona State University is the world's most quotedexpert on the subject of influence. Together with two colleagues, Noah Goldsteinand Steve Martin, Dr. Cialdini set out to distil over sixty years of groundbreakingresearch into the social psychology of persuasion, into a single easy-to-usereference book. This book, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,reveals fifty simple but remarkably effective strategies that are sure to make youmuch more persuasive at work, and in your personal life too.

    In fact, it doesn't matter whether you're the CEO of a large multi-national

    corporation, or a junior stock clerk at the local grocery store; the scientificallyproven tools and techniques espoused by Cialdini and his team are universallyapplicable to any workplace or social situation. But you needn't take their word forit. Along the way, the authors point to dozens of studies that confirm how unseenpsychological factors can have a profound impact on human decision-making.

    Because Yes! was written by a team of academics, you can be sure that thestudies and examples they chose will stand up to scientific scrutiny. At the sametime, even though the examples chosen are scientifically rigorous, that doesn'tmean they're boring. In fact, a few of the studies you'll hear about are downrightbizarre (e.g. you'll learn why people named Dennis are disproportionately likely tobecome dentists, and what Luke Skywalker can teach us about becoming a great

    leader). As silly as those two examples may sound, the authors also cover offplenty of important questions, such as: What common mistake do communicatorsoften make that cause their message to backfire? Which one word will strengthenyour persuasion techniques? And why is it often dangerous to be seen by othersas too much of a subject matter "expert"?

    The fastest way to get the answers to these and other questions is to review all 50persuasion techniques, which follow below.

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    1. How can inconveniencing your audience increase your persuasiveness?

    When people are themselves unsure of which path to take, they generally look tosee what others are doing. This phenomenon is called "social proof." Clever

    marketers will capitalize on this factor by making it seem as though the demandfor their product (or service) is higher than it actually is. Think of the night clubowner who inconveniences his customers by making them wait outside in the coldfor an extended period of time before letting them into the bar, even though theplace is empty.

    2. How can you shift the "bandwagon effect" into high gear?

    Human beings are largely herd animals who prefer to follow each other. Moreparticularly, most people prefer to follow other people who look, and act, likethemselves. So if you're a marketer who's looking to fully leverage the bandwagoneffect, the authors suggest you use customizedtestimonials. For example, if

    you're creating a campaign aimed at getting troubled students to stop cuttingclass, don't pick "A" students to star in your ads. Select young people who lookand sound like your target audience to share your message.

    3. What common mistake can cause your messages to self-destruct?

    All across the country, clinics and hospitals place posters on the walls of theirwaiting rooms decrying the number of patients who don't show up for scheduledappointments; then get frustrated when the non-attendance rates rise evenfurther. Even though these posters are well intentioned, according to the authors,the senders of these messages are failing to realize that using "negative socialproof" (i.e. the opposite of the two examples cited above) is usually counter-

    productive. Telling people that "lots of people miss their appointments" iseffectively giving other people license to miss theirs too.

    4. How can you steer people away from the "magnetic middle"?

    Let's say you're a line supervisor, and you've got a new guy on your crew whohasn't yet jumped on the social bandwagon. In many ways this could be a realbenefit to your organization. For example, unlike the other members of your teamwho are occasionally late for a shift, your new guy has never been late. And youwant to do what you can to prevent him from drifting, over time, towards the"magnetic middle" where most of your employees reside (i.e. they come to realizeit's OK to be late occasionally, with no consequences). The persuasion trick is

    simply to express your appreciation to your new hire for his good behaviour.Research has shown that showing a little appreciation is often all it takes.

    5. When does offering people more make them want less?

    Suppose you work for an organization that sells many different variations of asingle product. Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, the authors suggestyou consider reducing the total number of options you're offering in order to

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    significantly increase customer interest in those that remain. Numerous studieshave shown that we humans are easily overwhelmed by too much choice. The oldsaying may be partly true: "Variety truly is the spice of life." But too much spicecan easily spoil a great dish.

    6. When does a bonus become an onus?

    Offering freebies, such as a ballpoint pen or a free bottle of perfume to encouragepeople to buy a product or service, is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Butaccording to Cialdini and his team, offering customers free bonuses often has theopposite of its intended effect. Social studies have found that, for many people,when they are offered a freebie they become skeptical and wonder "What's wrongwith the product or service in the first place that the vendor needs to offer me afree gift to get me to buy it?" Think carefully about whether you want the word"free" associated with any of your products.

    7. How can offering a new, superior product drive more sales of your oldone?

    A few years ago, the upscale kitchen retailer Williams-Sonoma started offering abread machine that was far superior to their best-selling model. Yet when theyadded the fancy new machine, sales of the inferior model nearly doubled. Why?Because, according to the research, most consumers are naturally drawn to"compromise choices." In other words, we tend to consume products and servicesthat fall somewhere between what we need, at a minimum, and what we canafford. So if you want to drive sales of a mid-market product, then introduce aslightly more upscale one.

    8. Does fear persuade, or does it paralyze?

    For the most part, the research shows that invoking fear in your communicationswill drive people to take action to reduce the perceived threat (e.g. warn peoplethat Y2K will screw up their electronic devices, and then offer software to preventit). But this rule has one important exception. When a fear-producing messagedoes not include clear information on how to mitigate the danger, most peopletend to deal with their fear by "blocking out." So they may be paralyzed into takingno action at all, which is not good.

    9. What does the "rule of reciprocity" teach us?

    Most people instantly feel a sense of moral obligation after someone treats themkindly. Therefore, we often comply with quid pro quo requests from someone whohas just done us a small favor, even when that favor was unsolicited. In socialscience circles, this norm is known as the "rule of reciprocity." This rule has nearlyunlimited applications. For example, if you wish to minimize the chances that you'llexperience less-than-helpful customer service over the phone then try thefollowing: As soon as the phone conversation gets underway, if the agent sayssomething even remotely polite or helpful, tell the agent that you are so happy

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    with his/her positive attitude that you are going to send a positive e-mail to theagent's boss. If the research holds true, this unsolicited favor will likely encouragethe agent to provide you with excellent service in return.

    10. Which everyday office supply can make your influence "stick"?

    Answer: a Post-it Note. When an employee grabs a piece of paper from his inbox,studies have shown that they're far more likely to take immediate, effective actionon that document when it is accompanied by a simple, hand-written Post-it Notefrom their immediate supervisor. Most people simply appreciate that little personaltouch.

    11. Why should restaurants ditch their basket of mints?

    Studies have shown that when waiters and waitresses personally give a smallpiece of candy to each guest at the end of a meal, tips rise by an average of

    14.1% By contrast, when diners are simply left to grab a mint for themselves ontheir way out of the restaurant, there is no positive impact on tipping. The formerexperience is a personalized one i.e. my server is giving me a candy. The latteris entirely impersonal.

    12. What's the pull of "no strings attached"?

    This persuasion technique builds on number nine above. As we saw before, therule of reciprocity can be effective when you do an unsolicited favor for someone,and then immediately ask for something in return. But if you really want to kick itinto high-gear then consider doing favors for others with "no strings attached." Ifsomeone tries to reciprocate on the spot, don't let them off the hook. Chances are,

    you'll find the no-strings approach to be much longer lasting

    people will feelindebted to you indefinitely.

    13. What's the best way to cash-in on favors you've done?

    Say you've provided one of your customers with a "no strings attached" favor asper above and some time has now passed. You need to cash-in on the favor, butyou want to do it delicately. Overtly saying to your customer "Hey buddy, it'spayback time," is a strategy that's doomed to fail. Instead, the authors recommendyou (1) subtly remind the customer of the favor you did for them, perhaps bysaying something like, "So, did you find that report I sent you last month agouseful?"; and then (2) make your request.

    14. How can "small steps" turn into "giant leaps" of persuasion?

    Imagine you're trying to convince your 14-year old son to do his homework.According to Cialdini and his team, resistant children (and adults too) are morelikely to be persuaded if they're first asked to take a small step in that direction. Soinstead of sending Junior up to his room to finish his homework on his own, trysuggesting that you will spend 10 minutes working on it together, and then subtly

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    walk away after that time has passed. Chances are, your son will simply continueplugging away at it until it's done.

    15. How can you become a Jedi Master of persuasion?

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker achieved the ultimateact of persuasion: he got Darth Vader to turn against the evil Emperor Palpatine,thereby saving his own life, and restoring hope and piece to the galaxy. He did soby using a social influence strategy known as the "labeling technique." Thistechnique involves successfully assigning a trait or other label to a person, andthen making a request of that person to act in a consistent way with that label. InStar Wars, Luke said repeatedly and convincingly to Vader, "I know there's goodin you," and in doing so, he planted the seeds of persuasion that ultimatelyresulted in Vader killing Palpatine to prove Luke right.

    16. How can a simple question drastically increase support for your ideas?

    Let's say you're thinking about signing up for a charity marathon, but you'reuncertain as to whether you'll receive many donations. Asking your friends, familyand co-workers in advance whether they "think they might give money, ifyou sign-up for the race" will dramatically increase the chances that they will, in fact, forkover the dough once you come knocking with your pledge sheet in hand. Oncesomeone has already said "yes" to a hypothetical request, the chances that they'llfollow through on an actual request are higher.

    17. What is the active ingredient in long-lasting commitments?

    The simple act of writing your personal commitments down on paper (or getting

    someone else to put their commitments to you in writing) will increase thechances they'll be kept.

    18. How can you leverage consistency?

    As we saw earlier, people generally prefer to act in a manner that is consistentwith their pre-existing attitudes, values, statements, and actions. And mostpeople's preference for consistency tends to increase as they age. This findinghas important implications for how we try to influence older people. So, forexample, if you're trying to convince a reluctant senior citizen to take her heartmedication, an often effective strategy is to suggest that doing so would beconsistent with her pre-existing beliefs and practices.

    19. What did Benjamin Franklin teach us about persuasion?

    As an author, politician and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin was a remarkablypersuasive figure in his time. Early in his career, Franklin came to realize that"once someone had done him a kindness, they would be more ready to do himanother." Accordingly, Franklin would go around asking rival politicians, and evenmortal enemies, if he could, say, borrow a book; even if he had no intention of

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    reading it. A week later, he'd return the book and then ask for something reallyimportant, such as a vote in favor of a par...


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