Sunday, July 19, 2009

Persuasion, part 3

In this series on persuasion, we have so far covered that:
1 - Credibility is king. Build your credibility by:
-Establishing a track record for being knowledgeable in key areas and well-informed.
-Being diligent in developing supporting information for your position.
-Being open to discussing alternative perspectives.
-Being able to present your perspective in an easy-to-follow way.

2- In order to persuade someone, you need to articulate the benefit extended to them by adopting your perspective. Be able to articulate a concrete mutual objective and be able to demonstrate that your perspective is sufficient to achieve it. BE OPEN to modifying it as good ideas are presented by other parties. The idea is NOT to implement your idea without modification – the idea is to achieve an objective. The mutual objective you choose should be as concrete as possible and still be MUTUAL.

This week, I will talk a little about Robert Cialdini’s 6 laws of persuasion.

Reciprocation - When relationships are out of balance (like when one party does a favor for another), the parties tend to restore the balance to a neutral point. This is expressed many different ways, but I think you get it. If you do me a favor, I will re-pay it if I can; if you concede a few points to me in a negotiation, I’ll do the same – maybe in this negotiation, maybe in another.

Commitment and Consistency – When a person makes a commitment in some formal way (i.e., verbally, in writing, in public) they are more likely to honor that commitment. People don’t like to be seen as inconsistent, so by pointing out inconsistency (“you said you would, but now you are saying you won’t!?”) we can sometimes persuade someone to re-think a change of heart.

Social Proof – Social proof is doing something because someone else is. People will do things that they see other people are doing. If people are doing it already, then it seems less risky – just because someone else is.

Authority - People will tend to obey authority figures. This includes everything from accepting the word of someone without question because they work in management to taking endorsements from celebrities as meaningful. It doesn’t mean they are automatically right or wrong; it just means the claims need to be weighed on their own merit.

Liking - People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. They also tend to be persuaded by people that they would like to BE like.

Scarcity – People are more likely to do something if they feel that some factor out of their control may prevent them from being able to do it later. For instance, if there is a deadline to decide which option to take, people will rush to pick an option rather that considering whether they want to participate at all. If people believe that “supplies are limited” they will hurry to order something (even something they don’t really need) rather than lose the choice of having it all together when the supplies are gone.

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