Getting a YES from someone is not always easy, but as persuasive guru, New York Times best seller, and professor emeritus Robert Cialdini says, don’t worry, because with these scientifically proven “Weapons of Persuasion” you’ll be as close as ever to a YES.
Think of someone that always gets a yea, like Frank Underwood, and understand how imperative it is that as someone negotiating or representing your company in presentations that you master the ability to persuade people into seeing eye to eye. This is how science says you can persuade.
Weapon 1 – Create Authority
There is no better example of the power of perceived authority than Milgram’s experiment – unless you count the movie “Catch Me if You Can”. Conducted to explain what could have led Eichmann and his million of accomplices during the Holocaust, Milgram proved through a series of experiments that people obey authority figures even when this conflicts with their personal conscience. Watch the video of Milgram’s experiment and evidence how an authoritative figure can cause a person to inflict a lethal electrical charge or morally excuse them from killing 11 million people. Yes, impressive!
The Takeaway: If you want to persuade you must create the impression of being an authority. In return people will be much more willing to listen to you.
Weapon 2 – Suggest Scarcity and Immediacy
In Cialdini’s words, “People want more of what they cannot have”. Why? For two simple reasons. One, scarcity implies harder work and people value more what is hard to get. Second, scarcity implies the possibility of loosing an opportunity in the future. As research by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman suggests, people are loss and risk averse yet are more likely to take risks when they feel they might lose something.
A perfect example of the power of scarcity occurred during the last operational months of Concorde, the supersonic plane. On April 2003, Air France and British Airways announced that they would retire Concorde later that year due to lack of demand. Following their announcement, Concorde sales skyrocketed. Why? Because people acknowledged it was now or never!
The Takeaway: If we want to be more persuasive we should make what we offer – including ourself – seem scarce. In return the receiver will perceive your offering as more valuable and thus be more willing to embrace it.
Weapon 3 – Power of Group Conformity
Another weapon to be used in the science of persuasion is group conformity. Research developed by Solomon Asch shows the importance of what others think in our own opinion formation. Asch showed how 75% of participants to an experiment were ready to distort their perception on the length of a line just to fit into the answer given by the majority.
The Takeaway: When being persuasive, it is important to have the majority on your side. If you are able to create that scenario you’ll be walking towards the YES at full speed.
Weapon 4 – Commitment and Consistency work
As persuasion Guru, Robert Cialdini declared, if you are consistent and show commitment you will be closer to the YES. Why? His 3 pointers:
- society values commitment and consistency.
- when you are consistent and committed you are more likely to find a way.
- people like people with confidence.
An example of the positive power of commitment and consistency is Abraham Lincoln. Upon loosing his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, his business and eight consecutive elections, he became the 16th president of the United States in 1861.
The Takeaway: When trying to get a YES be committed and consistent with your arguments. In return you’ll be respected and valued.
Weapon 5 – Be Liked
Would you say no to George Clooney? If you want to be really persuasive get ready to be the best you and to resemble/mimic the person you want to get the YES from. Why? 2 premises:
- People say yes to people they like.
- People like people that are attractive and resemble them.
Don’t trust us? Check the studies by psychologists Edward Thorndike and his research leading to the Halo Effect and Heinz Kohut and his research on mirroring for the rational behind these two great swords for persuasion.
The Takeaway: If you are the better you, you will be more likely to get a YES. So keep groomed! Also remember to resemble thus use similar rhetoric, expressions and body language as the person you aim to get the yes from. Result? One step closer to the YES.
Weapon 6 – Reciprocity
Be ready to undertake small customized favors and take the first step toward persuasion – people are likely to feel an I owe YOU and give in when you ask for a favor. A study conducted by psychologist Robert Cialdini discovered that if a waiter customized a gift when bringing a tip, his tip increased by 30%. Why?
There are two reasons for this. The first one is that we tend to like people who give us gifts and thus we are more likely to give in to their desires. The second is that our society has grown to create a norm known as the Norm of Reciprocity. Society likes people that return favors and dislikes people that don’t. As a result we have all, hopefully, grown up to be reciprocal beings.
The Takeaway: When trying to get a YES we should try to find a way of creating a situation where the other feels like he owes us something. If we are able to create that situation, we will be inches from a YES.
Weapon 7 – Understand the Interests of the Other Side
The most important thing in persuasion is to know what the interest of the other side is – or at least have a rough sketch. If you know this, you can work together to create win-win propositions.
There is no better way of encapsulating the importance of knowing the interest of the other than this story about two men who were sent by their wives for an orange. Both men left their homes and arrived to the fruit shop at the same time to find that there was only one orange left in the store. You can imagine what unraveled. After minutes of high-toned persuasive communication the shopkeeper appalled by the scene approaches and asks, why do you each want the orange for?
The first husbands quickly raises his voice and says: “My wife makes the best custard in the world. We are hosting a family dinner and we need the skin to delight the guests”. The second husband looks at the first one and raises his voice even more “My wife is ill and the doctor recommended orange juice. I need the orange for orange juice”.
Upon listening to both husbands, the shopkeeper looks at both and says “Perfect. Why don’t we do this. You peel off the skin so that your wife can make the custard and you take the pulp so that your wife can make orange juice”? Both husbands looked at each other, smiled and went back home fulfilling their errand.
The Takeaway: Rhetoric can get you far but you need to know the interest of the other to get the YES.
You are aware of the secret weapons of persuasion. Now is time to say bye to NO and welcome the YES. Let us know how it went and your thoughts.
Check out this clip of Cialdini explaining persuasion – don’t miss out.