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Think Fast Talk Smart The Newsletter

Welcome to the first Think Fast Talk Smart newsletter! Our goal here is to continue the conversation and learning we start on Think Fast Talk Smart The Podcast.

Topics covered in this newsletter:

In a recent LinkedIn poll, our listeners ranked topics that they were most interested in. Among the top responses was persuasion. Below, we dive deeper into this topic to help you better hone your influence and increase the likelihood of achieving your persuasive goals.

per·sua·sion: Intentional communication designed to get another to persist, resist or change an attitude or behavior.

Questions to ask yourself prior to persuading

  • What is my persuasive goal and what does success look like?
    • Ex goal: I want my colleagues to support my project.
    • Ex success: The project is fully funded and staffed.
  • For my specific audience, which of my persuasive arguments are strongest and which are weakest.
  • How can I use both logic and emotion to support my persuasive efforts?
    • Identify data and personal stories you can leverage
  • What might cause my audience to resist, hesitate, or be concerned about my persuasive goal?

Podcast Episode Re:Think

“It’s more about understanding the factors that actually engage people or open them up to your idea and maybe get them to see something a little bit differently.”
            –Zakary Tormala The Laurence W. Lane Professor of Behavioral Science a Marketing at Stanford GSB

Listen to our Think Fast Talk Smart The Podcast episode: The Science of Influence: How to Persuade Others and Hold Their Attention where Matt talks to Zak Tormala about best practices for persuading others. You will learn not only about the importance of making your persuasive communication relevant and salient to your audience, but specific ideas on how to do so.
The Science of Influence: How to Persuade Others And Hold Their Attention

Book Club

Perhaps the most influential book on persuasion is Robert Cialdini’s Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion. If you want to improve your influence and practice your persuasion, then you need to read this book. With over 5 million copies sold, this book clearly explains and teaches 7 key principles of persuasion:
  • Social Proof
  • Reciprocity
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Commitment & Consistency
  • Scarcity
  • Unity
Matt is excited to interview Bob Cialdini for an upcoming podcast episode.

Leverage Action Forces for Effective Persuasion (from Speaking Up without Freaking Out by Matt Abrahams)

Much of our communication time is spent trying to motivate and influence others. However, many people approach persuasive communication from an informative perspective. They feel if they teach people why they see something the way they do, then others will clearly come to see the world the same way. Thus, many persuasive arguments end up simply being lists of facts and evidence. There is clearly more involved in being effective persuaders than simply firing facts at people. I provide a powerful approach to persuading others – Action Forces.

Action Forces

Broccoli is the bane of my existence. Trying to get my kids to eat this cruciferous vegetable has been frustrating me for years. Then one day, I decided to try some of the persuasion principles that I teach my MBA students, and to my delight, I was able to get my kids to eat there veggies without starting
World War III.

When attempting to change a behavior or attitude, you must consider the action forces that promote and inhibit the change you are pursuing. Most persuasion efforts focus on promoting forces by explaining why you should make the change being suggested: Eat this broccoli because it will make you strong. Invest in this company so you can make great future returns. Drive this car so you can impress a prospective romantic partner. Promoting forces represent the benefits, incentives, or avoided negative outcomes of enacting the change. Most advertising promotes change.

However, promoting forces are not always enough to affect change. You must consider the inhibiting forces that prevent someone from changing. In the broccoli battles I had, my kids understood very clearly the benefits of eating their greens and they were even excited by the elaborate rewards I
concocted (e.g., each bite of broccoli translated to two bites of ice cream). However, they could not get beyond the texture and taste. These visceral responses prevented them from consuming the broccoli. With a little culinary cover up (e.g., dipping sauces), I was able to remove the inhibitory forces and achieve victory.

Failing to address inhibitory forces can actually decrease the likelihood of behavior change. People can get very frustrated if they desire the change you are promoting but can’t get beyond the forces restraining the behavior. For example, consider a typical campaign to get sedentary people to exercise more. The promoting arguments are clear and desirable – greater health, more energy, etc. However, the lack of time and potential pain that comes with new exercise regimens can prevent people from starting. People bombarded solely with promoting messages might begin to resent those trying to help them be healthy since they are unable or unwilling to exercise. A more complete and effective campaign would focus not only on the benefits of exercise, but one developing less strenuous and less time consuming workouts.


Copyright © 2023 Matt Abrahams, All rights reserved.

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