In this new article you’ll learn how to become more persuasive communicator.
Whether you are a salesman, an employee, or just a home buddy who lives with other members of the family, at some point, you will ask someone to do something for you. It is an inevitable part of daily life—you need other people’s help on different kinds of things.
Sometimes it is easy to ask for a favor, but most of the time, it can be a real pain in the neck. Unlike babies or people in deathbeds, healthy adults like you would usually have to work to get what you want from somebody. Unless you have a written contract that can put the other person in jail if they do not say “yes”, you would have to ask, beg and plead just to get the other person to do you a simple favor.
The art of persuasion seems like a tough skill to master. Have you ever wondered why other people seem to do it naturally?
You would often see or hear about people who “always get what they want”. Aside from those who have outrageous amounts of money to spare and those who use coercion, there are many people who seem to just get whatever they wish from other people.
You would see them sell hundreds of things, work their way up the career ladder, or have their breakfasts done by somebody for free! You would often knit your eyebrows and stare in disbelief, saying “How in the world did he do that?” in your most jealous tone. In your worst days you might even think that they’re using some potions or magic spells.
Influencing other people doesn’t require any magic words or potions. It also isn’t “natural”, meaning, no one is born with the “super persuasion genes”. Everything that goes on between people who influence and those that they persuade is “social”. It comes from interaction with other people over a period of time, which is good news for you—that means it can be learned.
There may not be magic involved, but science definitely plays a part in effective persuasion. In the past, people require months of training in order to master the art of persuasion. You are extremely lucky.
People often think that they are making rational decisions based on all the information provided to them, but in reality, they are actually just using “shortcuts” based on their experience.
These shortcuts are the principles affecting influence. If you would like to be an expert influencer, knowing these principles will guarantee that you will get what you want from other people without investing too much time, effort and money.
How To Become More Persuasive Communicator:
1. Invest a little
Humans, as you know, are at the top of the list in the “Most Socially Interactive Species”. It isn’t only because humans stick together for hunting and surviving harsh conditions. The most striking social behavior that humans have is “intended resource exchange”.
Sure, other animals help each other too, but they only do it to survive. People have evolved so much in the social aspect that they eventually exchanged resources for survival, for fun, and for sport. When trading and bartering were invented, it was for survival. Goods were exchanged for goods. When leisure was invented, it was for fun.
Cards were exchanged for cards. When sporting events were invented, it was for sports. Players were exchanged for players. Humans have made so many uses for resource exchange that it became deeply rooted in every culture around the world.
Because of regularly exchanging resources, people have developed a carnal social rule: You will get what you give. It starts as a conscious thought, children will be taught to share their toys so other children will share toys with them. As a person grows older, the process becomes automatic. People expect to receive something when they give something.
The interesting thing is, such social rule did not only have an effect on the person who initially gave something. It also affects the one that was given something. While the giver unconsciously expects a gift in return, the receiver is unconsciously BOUND to give something in return.
It all happens without expressing the expectations verbally. There will exist an unwritten, binding, promissory note in the mind of the initial receiver that says: “I will give this person something nice next time.” The initial receiver was somehow influenced by the initial giver, just because he was given something.
You can persuade someone to give you something that you asked for, if you give them something first.
When someone invites you to a party, don’t you feel obliged to invite that person when you hold a party too? When a colleague gave you a tip on how to score a prime account, will you not help that colleague the moment you get the chance?
The feeling of indebtedness is the driving force of reciprocity. People will feel indebted to people who treat them well by giving them something. The feeling will be conscious, but in just a few minutes, their brains will push it down to the unconscious. The memory of the ‘gift’ will only surface again when there is an opportunity to give back.
Politicians use it all the time. They give favorable attention to private companies and the companies will help the politicians on their election campaign.
Your friends may have used it on you too. Had anybody given you something lately? Are you planning on buying or doing something nice for them too?
Invest a little time, effort and money to other people who you think can help you get what you want. Remember the following:
1. Be the first person to give – if you are going to ask for something from someone, give them a little something at least a day before.
2. Make it personalized – do not just give any token, find something that they will really appreciate. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive. It can even be just some help when they really need it.
3. Make it random – do not wait for them to ask you for help. Make it random and unexpected. Their surprise towards your action would help bind them to the debt of gratitude.
2. Play with extinction
Have you ever noticed stores that have “SALE! Limited time only” or “Going out of business” signs in their windows all year? Have you ever wondered why they do not put down the signs?
There is something appealing about the thought of having something when there is less of it available. People, when told that a resource is scarce or extinct. Do not just switch to alternative resources right away.
They do what they can to get a hold of what is scarce first. They pay tons of money for it, or fight for it. It is as if everybody wants to have the rights to say that they were able to get the “last of its kind.”
The main social concept in action here is called loss aversion—people hate to lose what they had the opportunity to have. Some social scientists think that this dates back to the time when people really do not have much resources available. It may have been a survival instinct that later developed into something utterly irrational.
You can influence someone’s behavior by letting them think that what you have is scarce.
The perfect example that employs the principle of scarcity is the diamond trade. When diamonds were first discovered, there were only a small portion of it in the market. Only a handful of mining companies know where to find it. After a few years though, the industry expanded, and miners learned where to look.
Because of that, there came a time when there are so many diamonds available in the market. Back then, diamonds were not really popular as jewelries, they were mostly in demand in the construction and computer industries. The supply for the diamond surpasses the demand. The result was the price of the diamond being so low.
That cannot be the case for the companies. The diamonds were so pretty, but they will not have a lot of profit if everybody can have it. So, the leaders of mining companies gathered to form a monopoly: they will control the supply of diamonds in the market. Since then, the “available” diamonds became scarce.
The idea of its extinction made people want to get it. Jewelry stores suddenly made articles studded with it and sold it for a ridiculous amount of money, because it is “rare”. Even though other stone gems were more rare, diamonds became more expensive.
It was a strategy used by mining company to sell the stones for a higher price, even though in reality, it is not really worth it. All the diamonds are just hidden in their remote mines.
There are two ways that you can use this principle to your advantage. If you want to sell or get rid of something, do the following:
1. Tell them the item is rare – tell them how very little of it is available in the world. If they will belong to the “elite” few who had the chance to have it, they will get the item from you.
2. Tell them the item’s benefit and how it is unique – highlight one or two good qualities of the item that makes it ‘good to have’
3. Tell them what they will lose – you can give them the illusion that because your item is rare, it is already priced high. Either the price is going to go higher tomorrow, or they will have nothing of the item at all.
You can also use it if you want other people to think that you are important. For job interview requests or dates, do not agree to schedules immediately. Tell the other person, “I am not sure if I will have time that day, I have other commitments, let me check…”. Pause for a few seconds before saying, “Here’s an available window, I’ll be available for (then say a time frame)”.
They will think that you are busy and in-demand. Their thought bubbles will have “This must be an important person” on it. As a result, they will like to have more of you and your time.
3. Show them whos’s the boss
There is a scientific reason why you obey your parents, your teachers, everybody in uniform. Humans, like any other social mammals, follow the leader of the pack. It is safe to assume that the leader has more experience, thus, he or she knows more about impending danger and good opportunities.
Most people think that they follow authority because they respect them. Respect only comes second to trust. You do not respect authority because you respect them from the moment you learn that they’re in charge, you respect them only after you prove that trusting them is good for you.
When influenced by authority, people think that they have no choice. Of course in some instances, the choices will be “obey or go to jail” or “do or die”, but more often than not, there is no dangerous sanction to non-compliance.
People just think there will be, because it is embedded in their minds that if your do not follow the leader of the pack, you’ll be in trouble. Why do you think so?
It is because people are defining “authority” in several different ways. A leader is followed only when he or she posses the following:
- Has the ability to inflict harm by using force
- Has been proven to be correct many times
- Has extensive knowledge on the matter at hand
- Has gained much experience
You follow figures of authority because you think of them as people who have the ability to make or break you. You can also employ it to influence anybody you want. You can influence someone if they see you as a powerful, credible, knowledgeable or experienced person.
It is very effective use the principle of authority to sell products and services very well. How many advertisements have you seen with testimonials from doctors? Have you tried calling a product’s support number and hearing the “I will connect you to an expert” line? How about books with foreword written by leading figures in literature?
Professionals use their authority in an effort elicit trust and respect from their clients. The office desks are lined with trophies to show people how good they are. Doctors do not display their diplomas and certificates in their receiving areas by accident, it is a statement of authority.
Companies do not put the year of is foundation on the labels of their products just for fun, it is to let customers know that they’ve been playing in the field for a long time. You will be influenced by people who have “authority” at least twice in 24-hours.
You will be able to influence other people by displaying authority too. Of course you do not want them to feel scared by threatening them, but you can follow the following tips;
1. Show credibility – let them have a look at your credentials
2. Show expertise – let them know that you are an expert in the field
3. Show extensive knowledge – let them see just how much you know
There will be times when imposing authority by doing the three tips yourself may not work for you, but you can still use authority to influence someone. You can actually say that you are closely related to someone of authority.
For example, you want one of your friends to buy a medical product from you, you can tell them how the product impressed your cousin, who was a renowned doctor.
4. Use the social handcuffs
Consistency has helped humankind proceed to the next levels of evolution: eating food that makes them healthy every day, staying away from poisonous plants, etc.
With the help of experience, humans learned of the things that they should do consistently, in order for them to survive. And survive, they did. Such efficacy of being consistent became a very useful tool that it doesn’t only apply strictly to survival anymore, but also in social interaction.
People like being consistent. It is viewed to guarantee safety and progress. It also brings a sense of identity: When a person consistently does something, he or she will be associated with the action.
This is the reason why people who are inconsistent (1) are not considered reliable and trustworthy. Humans have considered consistency as one of the most vital characteristics a good person should have. It has somewhat become a virtue.
Due to the ‘virtue’ of consistency, people are inclined to repeat their previous actions and decisions. They become committed to the idea that doing the same deed again is good. When a person makes a commitment to do something that he or she has done in the past, a sudden change of behavior will be unacceptable.
In influencing, social scientists observe that a person’s behavior is greatly influenced by his previous behavior. You can influence someone to do something big for you by making them do something small for you first. They will commit themselves to be consistent with their previous approval.
Not only do you have to make the other person say ‘yes’ in a small request, the nature of the request should be similar to the big one, their agreement to it should be voluntary, and the commitment should be public (or should be known to other people).
You can make a person do what you want by looking for opportunities to ask for small commitments that can be made. Here are some of the things that you need to ensure:
1. Your prior request should lead up to the big request – do not expect that your boss will give you a raise when you ask him just because he agreed to play tennis with you last Sunday. Your request should be similar in nature. For example, ask for little perks and bonuses.
2. The other person’s agreement to the previous request should be voluntary – ask only once. Do not sound eager. If you make the same small request more than once, the other person will catch the scent of manipulation.
3. Put it in writing or have it announced – commitment is more powerful when it is publicly known. Make sure that the other person’s agreement to your smaller request is written in black an white and signed.
If the nature of the request does not permit that, then make sure that other people are looking and listening when a verbal agreement is made. The social pressure will make the other person stick to his or her consistent nature and would likely agree to your bigger request more easily.
5. Use your charm
There are three main social concepts surrounding the principle of liking: similarity, cooperation, and compliments. The first two concepts are not unique to humans.
Most social animals trust and follow those that look and behave as themselves. You will never see an alpha lion leading tigers. Cooperation is also a great factor to liking, because when an animal doesn’t work towards the same goal as another animal, they are sure to fight.
Only humans are capable of liking through compliments. Dogs can understand human language, but verbal compliments do not affect them. Human brains produce endorphin when a compliment is given to them, making them feel “happy”.
Such happiness is not attributed to the chemicals or the words said, but to the person who said it. It follows that when a person likes you, he or she will agree to your requests.
You can influence a person to do what you want if you are similar to them, work with them, and compliment them.
Aside from you buying expensive requested gifts for the person you love, the principle of liking can be seen in your everyday interaction with people that you know.
Will you ever grant a request from someone whom you share nothing in common with? How about doing a favor for someone who always disagrees with you? Did you ever do something special for someone who always seem to notice the nice things about you?
Your own experiences regarding liking gives you a consciousness of why you are doing some things for other people. In other words, you know that you like them.
You are, however, very much unaware of how other people—those you do not know personally—use exactly the same principle to lure you into doing what THEY want. They do it in subtle ways, and when you’re asked why you like them, you would probably site the following reasons:
- The other person is physically attractive
- You both like the same things
- The other person is always around
- You can relate to that person
- The other person always say something nice about you
The reasons are familiar, right? That is because those are the same reasons behind clever advertisements created by marketing experts.
They subtly tell you what to do by putting good-looking models on print ads saying they also had some problems like you do. They would then bombard you with television commercials of that same model, saying they also went through what you are going through, but they managed to better the situation by using a product. They will end the advertisement by saying something nice about you, and that you can succeed as the model did.
You do not have to be a model to successfully use your charm to your advantage. You can simply employ the social concepts surrounding the principle of liking to get another person to like you (2) and give you what you want. They is doing it subtly. Here are the things you can do to be more likable:
1. Point out similarities – before asking for a favor, engage in two or three quick conversations about things that you know the other person likes: sports, television shows, books, etc. The more strongly the other person likes the topic, the more he or she will like you.
Be careful when talking about things that the other person is extremely passionate about. Do not pretend that you are an expert in that field too, because they may catch you in a lie. Instead, find more general things that you both truly like.
2. Work on something together – liking turns into trust especially when cooperation is involved. If you want to ask someone to do something for you, find an opportunity to work with them towards the same goal, like completing a project or being in the same team in a game. Something about being an ally makes a person want to please another.
3. Give genuine compliments – do not compliment on everything the other person does. You should be subtle, unless you want them to realize that you’re on to something. Make sincere compliments about the other person.
Compliments about their physical appearance do not count. Instead, praise them on their skills and abilities. For example, instead of saying “You have a pretty dress” say “You did a great job in pairing that dress with those shoes!”.
6. Make them join the bandwagon
The majority is always right – that’s the social thinking behind the principle of consensus. People think that they are making their own decisions, but in reality, they would consider what other people would do when in the same situation.
Humans have known through experience that going with the crowd is safer than acting alone. There is strength in numbers, so it does not matter if the decision is morally questionable.
Looking for consensus gives a person a feeling of security. If you follow the crowd and the crowd made a good call, you get to enjoy the victory with them. If the crowd fails, you fail with everybody so you have other people to help you try again. If you act on your own, victory isn’t as sweet and failure is much harder to overcome.
You can influence a person to do what you want, if you let them know that others are doing the same thing.
There are many real-life scenarios displaying the power of social consensus over individual decisions. One example is the applause and standing ovation in theaters. No matter how bad the performance was, if somebody starts clapping and standing up, the rest of the crowd will follow— even if they did not fell like applauding the performance.
Social scientists think that apart from the perceived safety in numbers, people also submit to consensus to prevent the feeling of being outcast. The sense of belonging is very strong in groups of people, even though they do not know each other.
You do not have to hire accomplices to convince someone to do what you want them to. You merely have to entice them to join the bandwagon by giving them the numbers. Consensus works even for imaginary scenarios. Here is what you need to do:
1. Be specific with your numbers – the number that you should give to the person that you are asking a favor from should be highly relatable. If you are asking for a raise, for example, you can say that “I heard that 70% of managers here give wage increase to their best employees.” Do not give a number that is completely unrelated, like the number of employees promoted in another company.
2. Support your numbers with some testimonials – you can team up with some friends on this one. Tell them of the numbers that you want to give, prior to you asking for a favor from another person. Do not tell it like it is a rumor, tell it like it’s a fact.
Going back to the example above, you can tell two of your friends that you read in a newspaper or heard on the radio that 70% of the managers in the company provide wage increase to the best employees. When the time comes when you give the number to your boss, add, “You can ask George and Laura, they’ve heard it too.”
3. If you do it with the real crowd, plant some “promoters” – somebody has to trigger the applause, and they have to do it convincingly. When you are presenting something to a group of people befriend one or two of them and ask for their support during the presentation. Without knowing it, these two will be the first ones to clap at the end of your presentation, serving as a trigger for other people to follow suit.
You have now learned the science of influencing and the art of persuasion.
I hope this article was able to help you gain more insights on how people in general behave in social situations. Test the techniques that you’ve learned with your closest friends first and see them as they work towards doing things that would please you! Get out there and make anyone do whatever you want!