AFTER more than 60 years of research on the realm of influence, it has been proven that human behaviour is highly predictable.
Let me share what science has found out about influence and how we can leverage it positively, especially in a dynamic workplace.
A leader or manager cannot lead or communicate without influence in the workplace.
In my book, “The Power Science of Influence — Proven Strategies at Work, Sales, Team”, I discussed 25 scientific behavioural strategies. I share three of them here:
Behavioural strategy 1
Give people fewer choices
It has been proven that the fewer choices you give to a person, the more likely he will make a faster decision.
When you offer more choices, you are the culprit responsible for increasing his procrastination score.
An experiment with a fund management house, which offers funds for buying into a pension plan, found that for every 10 funds offered for comparison, the sign-up rate dropped by 2 per cent. The more choices there were on the plate, the more people procrastinated.
Humans are programmed to love choices. We are constantly in a dilemma because, at the end of the day, we end up with more choices than we ask for.
When it is time to make a decision, we end up with an Analysis Paralysis syndrome.
Can you recall a meeting you attended that dragged on for hours when it could have been done in 30 minutes?
The agenda was probably too wide in scope and too vague.
The trick is to give people fewer choices and be specific about what you want them to do.
Behavioural strategy 2
Give people fewer reasons
An experiment was done with two groups of people, where they were tasked to decide whether to buy Brand A car or not.
The first group was asked: “Give me one strong reason to buy Brand A”. The majority of the people in the first group decided to buy the car.
However, when the second group was asked: “Give me 10 strong reasons to buy Brand A”, the majority decided otherwise.
Interestingly, we have two different responses.
The mystery lies in the provision of one strong reason versus 10.
Logically, we would think that by having more reasons to act, we would facilitate a greater buy-in. In fact, the reverse is true and this effect might potentially backfire on us.
What then could be the underlying psychology?
When people find it hard to generate reasons to buy, they unconsciously associate it with the difficulty of making the decision to buy.
When convincing someone to say “yes”, be as specific as possible.
Plan exactly what you want the person to do.
Give him fewer choices and substantiate your preferred one with one strong reason, giving the push to act. Influence is never an accident — it is intentional.
Behavioural strategy 3
No, I am not joking. Have lunch with the people whom you intend to influence.
Science has proven that when we are eating, we associate the positive feelings triggered by the food with the message delivered over the meal. It occurs as the pleasure centre in our brain is lighted up.
If you encounter a deadlock in a meeting with clients, intentionally call for a tea break and adjourn to a nearby café.
As soon as everyone has settled down, start to casually share your view on the issue that caused the disagreement and deadlock earlier.
But, only do so when your clients are eating. Your attempt to influence them may not work if they are not eating anything!
In summary, you will increase your influence and persuasion score if you can narrow down and be specific with the choices you give.
Give fewer choices, and support the preferred one with a strong reason. If you have to, take your clients out to lunch. The bill is on you, of course.
Article by Joseph Wong, a behavioural transformation coach at Richard Gavriel Speaker Management. He has trained thousands of professionals under his signature programmes — The Power Science of Influence, behavioural team building and psychometrics interventions. E-mail: Richard@RichardGavriel.com