When it comes to influencing othersâ€™ decisions, are you focused on strategy or tactics?Â We know itâ€™s not just what you say it but how you say it that will influence a person to take action.Â As a presentation trainer and coach, I believe itâ€™s important to focus first on strategy â€“ delivering a powerful and succinct message in an engaging manner that the recipient is ready to receive. Only after thatâ€™s mastered (no small task!), should you focus on tactics such as NLP and body language.
Several years ago, Robert Cialdini published Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion. It has become the â€œbibleâ€ among social psychologists and communicators concerned with understanding how to influence people to make decisions. He recently updated his concept in Pre-suasion, and itâ€™s important to understand how he updated his theory.
As Iâ€™ve noted in a prior blog, his research identified six major strategies of influence:
- Reciprocation â€“ people want to reciprocate your actions
- Liking â€“ people prefer to work with people they like
- Social Proof â€“ people are more likely to act with evidence that others do the same thing
- Authority â€“ people submit to authority
- Scarcity â€“ people are more likely to act when the thing they want is scarce (e.g., limited time)
- Consistency â€“ people like to act in ways that are consistent with how they see themselves.
These are very useful as strategic positioning issues for a presentation. For instance, four of the strategies explain why buyers prefer sellers theyâ€™ve had great experiences with in the past.
In Pre-suasion, he focuses on the issue of timing prior to employing a strategy and using it to get a person in a state of mind thatâ€™s consistent with the influence you want to produce.Â Some examples:
- To encourage a person to buy a bottle of French wine, expose the person first to French music
- To encourage a person to try an untested product, we can inquire whether the person is adventurous.
- If we want a person to feel warmly toward us, hand them a hot drink
- If we want people to be more helpful, show them pictures of people close together
- Showing a picture of a runner winning a race helps create a state of mind for achievement
- A picture of Rodinâ€™s The thinker, creates a state of mind for careful assessments
Building on this approach a colleague focuses on the core motives model of social influence in which he notes the importance of the relationship of the information to decision-stage of influence. For instance:
- First, the goal is to cultivate a positive association. The principles of linking and reciprocity are likely to help do so.
- Second, the goal is to reduce uncertainty â€“ so they see the decision as wise. Here social proof and authority become effective influential supports
- Finally, the goal is to motivate action. The fact that a well-liked friend showed me proof that experts recommend an action, may not be enough to get me to act. Using an appeal to consistency encourages me to do what I usually do and scarcity â€“ act now or lose out â€“ should close the deal.
How are you using the influence strategies now? Understanding how Pre-suasion works, what can you do to enhance your effectiveness? Share with us so we can all learn!