Let’s be upfront persuasion is all about manipulating other people’s behavior.
Now at first, that might sound immoral but it doesn’t have to be. A lot of this research has actually been on stuff like, how to make people donate more or how to increase eco-friendly behavior.
So whether you’re asking for a favor or trying to create a better world here are the top 6 tricks on persuasion.
- Give before you ask
- Money won’t always work
- Use conformity
- Point out their hypocrisy
- Fluid Speech
- Use Timing
Give before you ask
Now you might think that this rule is common sense, yet it’s been completely forgotten in today’s society. With social media, people have become shameless in asking favors because it’s also depersonalized.
For example, you might have seen crowdfunding sites or please on your Facebook wall asking for money to help out a personal cause.
There are even campaigns where students simply ask the Internet to pay for their college tuition.
As you can guess they’re not very successful, you can’t just ask something for nothing. If you really wanted something from others you have to first offer them something of value, only then will they want to help you out.
Even small offers will work, for example, if a waiter gives customers two mints, tips increased by 14%, even better if he gives them one mint starts walking away but then turns around and offers another mint tips increased by 21%.
Now two mints clearly aren’t worth that much money yet the power of reciprocity is so strong that people feel the urge to repay the kindness and then some more.
So if you really want something, remember to always give before you ask.
Money won’t always work
After following that rule you might be thinking okay I can offer money however this won’t always work.
For example, in experiments when volunteers were paid for their work they actually worked less compared to when they did it for free. Why?
Well, when you pay people to do something they’ll think okay I’m doing this for the money.
However when you don’t since there’s no clear reward they rationalize it as I’m doing this because I enjoy the task.
As such they’re more motivated to do well, this is known as the overjustification effect.
The same thing happens when you ask lawyers if they’d help needy retirees for 30 dollars an hour they just didn’t want to help, but if you asked could you help for free the lawyers overwhelmingly said yes.
Here it wasn’t about the money anymore it became about giving back to the community.
So remember if you want people to do meaningful work, money can’t be the only motivator, instead, appeal to other values like giving back to society.
As much as we like to think we’re individuals people still largely conform to social norms.
So to change their behavior convince them that everyone else is doing it.
For example, one hotel tried to increase towel reuse. They put a sign that said 75% of guests who stayed in this room reuse their towels, join them in saving the environment.
This simple sign alone increased towel reuse by 44%.
Now this rule seems simple to follow but there’s a fatal caveat and so many ad campaigns have fallen into this trap.
See there are actually two types of norms, descriptive norms which are about what other people do, and injunctive norms which are about what other people think should be done.
You should never let these two norms conflict.
Take the example of an ad, like obesity is an epidemic, buck the trend and be healthy. Here you have two conflicting norms, you’re told that while other people are acting unhealthily, you yourself should be acting healthy when this conflict occurs the ad not only fails to increase healthy behavior it makes people less willing to eat healthfully.
Basically the ad worked against itself this is concerning because so many campaigns have this design.
Another example is developed countries waste too much energy, therefore, we should conserve but, research shows that once again this message makes people less willing to conserve.
If you really wanted a persuasive message the two norms should always match such as most teenagers don’t do cocaine, you shouldn’t either.
Therefore make sure to use the power of conformity correctly.
Point out their hypocrisy
People hate being hypocrites. This is something we can exploit.
For example, one experiment had people preach to others about the importance of wearing condoms. The fact that this message was public is important because that meant that the participants couldn’t just take back their message, they were committed to it.
Next, they were reminded of their own past failures to use condoms. By simply highlighting this hypocrisy these participants started acting more consistently and consequently increased condom usage.
The same thing happened with smokers when told to create a public message about how smoking is bad.
Their commitment against smoking clashed with their actual smoking habits and as expected after six months they had a higher abstinence rate compared to control subjects.
So to change behavior, make the person publicly commit to something and then point out their hypocritical behavior and those are the top four tricks on how to persuade someone to your point of view.
Confidence is key to persuading people
When you talk with your sentences colored with indecisive words such as “like” or “I mean”, it makes you look less confident and less sure of what you’re talking about.
Oftentimes, people interpret fluidity in speech, to mean confidence and validity. Essentially, the more confident you appear in your speech, the easier it will be to persuade others.
Use Timing To Your Advantage
This example is a little bit evil, but hey if you want results try this technique.
Another key trick is learning to use timing to your advantage.
If you analyze people closely, you will discover that some people tend to be more agreeable when they are mentally fatigued.
Whenever you have a demand that someone might not instantly consent to, watch the person closely and make the request just after they’ve done a mentally daunting chore.
Even if you don’t get their answer immediately, you will at least be able to get the person to listen to your demands.
You should note that there is no guarantee though. The success of this technique actually depends on the person, but trying never hurts.