The art and science of persuasion is an interesting topic because the biggest fans of “persuasion techniques” are usually scumbags, looking for ways to brainwash prospect customers or the opposite sex, for nefarious purposes.
On the other hand, persuasion used to further positive business goals, put win-win deals together and create impact can only be a good thing.
I put the word “Jedi” into the title of this post for the following reasons:
- Jedis are all-powerful and can convince anyone of anything.
- Jedis play for the “light side of the force” and believe in doing the right thing.
- I’m a closet geek and grew up wishing I had my own light saber.
So today I’m going to share a psychological strategy for persuasion, that only works if you’re using it for the right reasons. It’s also the most powerful persuasion technique of them all.
People who get interested in persuasion spend a lot of time studying body language, hypnotic commands and all kinds of psychological hocus-pocus. That stuff can work, but it usually requires a degree of expertise possessed by only the most elite Jedi mind-ninjas… and even then, it all pales in comparison to the technique I’m about to share here. A technique, by the way, that can be mastered (easily and quickly) by anyone.
So what is the ultimate, secret, Jedi mind-ninja, ass-kicking formula for face-numbing irresistible persuasion?
When we persuade, we’re trying to get someone to DO something. No matter if it’s buying our product, doing what we say, agreeing with us or following our instructions, we have to share a lot of information.
Most of us focus on telling people:
What is going on, what we want you to do, what the problem (or solution) is
Where we want you to do what we want
When we want you to do it…. (now, or maybe next week)
Who we want to take the action
HOW to do what we want you to do
And most people think that last one is the most important. Most sale’s pitches, for example, are focused on “This is what we’ve got, this is HOW you buy it”.
Most parents tell this their kids “This is what you’re doing (wrong). This is HOW to do better. Do it!”
Giving people the what, where, when, who and HOW is useful because it shares crucial information… but it doesn’t create any form of motivation or inspiration.
It doesn’t ignite a desire to take action in the listener. In other words, it isn’t persuasive. So what it?
One word: Why.
The one piece of psychologically savvy information that most managers, sales people, entrepreneurs and parents forget to leave out is the word “WHY” and the information that answering it could provide.
“Here is why I want you to do this…”
… Are the magic words that begin a highly persuasive sentence.
“Here is why you might want to do this…”
… Lights a persuasive fire the likes of which you’ve never seen.
Explaining the reasons why someone would want to do something is the secret formula for persuading anyone to do anything. With one exception.
You can’t persuade someone to do something totally out of their interests, because you could never find a powerful enough “reason why”. Thus, people attempting to play on the “dark-side of the force” will fail.
Explaining “why” creates a rational behind the action you are suggesting. It connects the listener (or prospect) with the emotional advantage of doing what you say. The listener, upon hearing a relevant “why”, begins to feel motivated and excited as they imagine the ultimate “What’s in it for me.”
To be persuasive, in your sales pitches or communication in general, focus more on explaining why you want people to do things. Focus less on what you actually want them to do, or how, or when. If you focus on the rational (on the “Why”) then people will find a way. They’ll seek out the information they need to take action. Hell, they’ll come to you with questions.
As entrepreneurs, explaining why we do what we do makes all the difference. It defines the way we market our businesses.
As leaders of people, explaining why our followers would want to do what we suggest creates a loyalty that can’t be bought. “Why” is the very definition of vision and it is what separates exceptional leaders from the wannabes.
The trickiest part of tapping into people’s “Why” is being able to connect with the reasoning that matters, for that particular individual. Us humans are a diverse bunch and the rational that ignites your motivation, may not necessarily light a fire under others.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the psychology of their customers, so they can easily tap into the reasons “Why” that persuade customers to buy product. Fantastic leaders know their followers like the back of their hand and can create the same buy-in for ideas and actions.
If you want to learn persuasion skills, or the art of influence, matching people’s body language will only get you so far. Embedded commands and hypnosis tricks are probably a waste of time.
If you clearly communicate the reasoning, the “Why”, behind every action you suggest you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Jedi Master. Light saber and robes are optional.
What do you think? What powerful persuasion strategies do you have in your arsenal?