Persuasion Can Be Taught, Learnt & Applied
Studies by behaviour scientists have shown that persuasion is governed by several principles that can be taught, learnt and applied in real life. Persuasion works by appealing to a limited set of deeply rooted human needs and drivers. By mastering the fundamentals of these 6 persuasion principles, business leaders will be able to get more things done through others and be more successful at their work place.
Principle 1: The Principle Of Liking
People like those like them, who like them.
To influence people, you need to make and win friends using 2 factors – Similarity and Praise.
Use similarities such as common interests (in football, college alumni, or favourite tv show) with new co-workers, new boss, new vendors to create bonds early in the relationship. After the good will and trustworthiness has been established, it would be much easier to achieve their support for new projects or better budget.
Use genuine praise to charm and disarm. You can make positive remarks about the person’s attitude, character or performance. In return, you generate liking and the person will not be so defensive or guarded.
Principle 2: The Principle Of Reciprocity
People repay in kind.
Give to others what you want to receive from them. A simple example would be smiling. When someone smiles to you, more often then not, you will smile back at him automatically.
Similarly, gift giving has the same effect. Pharmaceutical companies often give generous gifts and meals to doctors in exchange for getting more exposure for their drugs.
Principle 3: The Principle Of Social Proof
People follow the lead of their peers.
Influence is more effective when exerted horizontally, rather than vertically. Persuasion is very effective when it comes from peers.
For example, many salesmen like to bring out testimonials from satisfied customers to show their current prospect. There is a better chance of convincing this prospect if they hear it directly from their peers, instead of yet another sales pitch from the salesman.
Principle 4: The Principle Of Consistency
People fulfil public and voluntary commitments.
Liking is a powerful force, but persuasion involves more than simply making people like you, your pitch or your product. People need to feel committed to what you want them to do. People have to feel obligated to you.
There is strong evidence to show that a choice made actively – where it has been spoken out loud, or written down – is more likely to direct someone’s future actions than when the same choice has been left unspoken.
For example, a manager can get an employee to submit his reports on time in writing formally (memo), make his commitment public (colleagues’ agreement with the memo), and link that commitment to the employee’s values (his timely reports will boost his team’s productivity).
Principle 5: The Principle Of Authority
People defer to experts with specialised skills and information.
In Asian countries, having a get-together meal before formal discussion or negotiation is common practice. These meals are opportunities to establish “similarities” and “likings”. In addition, it is also useful to establish “expertise” before doing formal business with the business partners.
Establishing expertise could be as simple as alluding on your relevant background and experience with reference to the upcoming project, or you could describe how you solved a similar problem which is to be discussed in the next day’s meeting.
Principle 6: The Principle Of Scarcity
People place more value on what is scarce.
Scarcity breeds demand. Sales personnel love to use “limited time”, “limited supply”. “one-of-a-kind” offers to bait customers. Retailers frame their offers not in terms of what people stand to gain, but in terms of what people stand to lose if they don’t act fast.
According to a 1988 study of California home owners in the Journal Of Applied Psychology, the power of “loss language” was demonstrated clearly. 50% of the home owners were told that if they fully insulate their homes, they would save a certain amount of money each day. The other 50% were told that if they failed to insulate their homes, they would lose that amount each day. Far more owners in the 2nd group insulated their homes.
Use A Combination Of Principles For Greater Impact
In summary, legitimate expertise, genuine obligations, authentic similarities, real social proof, voluntary commitments can produce win-win situations. Using these 6 principles judiciously and ethically will help you capture your audience, sway the undecided and convert your opposition.