You don’t just walk up to a person and say bluntly, “Hey, believe this…” or “Listen, I have a great idea,” now do you? Well, if you know just how to say or do the right thing immediately before you want them to listen to you, believe or buy what you’re selling — the chances of you persuading them is likely to improve dramatically, as extensive research by Professor Robert Cialdini has proved.
Welcome to the world of pre-suasion- where the art of winning people over doesn’t lie just in the message or how you say it, but also in the moments before you deliver the message. It could also involve seemingly unimportant visual cues, or anything from the surrounding environment.
Author and social psychologist Robert Cialdini illustrates how he came up with this revolutionary idea with an example from his personal life. “I was at my place, and there was a knock on my door. I opened to find a man and a child on the doorstep. The man had come to ask for contribution to an after-school program. I gave him more money than I usually would- why, would I, you ask? Because he brought his daughter.
“The presence of the child made me more susceptible to his request — in fact more than more than his message. That’s what struck me, and I realized I wanted to study more about this behavioural science,” he shares.
He explains the concept with a case study. “There’s a site to buy furniture online. So, when visitors went to that site, they had two options — they had an option of choosing two backgrounds. They could either choose the clouds, or coins. Those who chose clouds preferred to purchase comfortable sofas and couches — and those who chose coins, bought inexpensive furniture. These different backgrounds guided their behaviour, and influenced their choice.”
Pre-suasion induces a state of mind in people. The other person’s attitudes, beliefs or experiences don’t have to be altered. All that’s required is that the communicator redirects the audience’s focus of attention before a relevant action.
His first solo work in 30 years, Cialdini draws on intense personal experiences and power-packed case studies to teach his readers how to become a master persuader. “The essential idea of pre-suasion is, to get the recipients to agree with the message- before they experience it. Pre-suasion induces a state of mind in people. The other person’s attitudes, beliefs or experiences don’t have to be altered. All that’s required is that the communicator redirects the audience’s focus of attention before a relevant action,” he shares.
Of course, he cautions that no technique is always going to work, but research demonstrates how we can increase the likelihood of it working. These little things doesn’t just adhere to sales and marketing, these are psychological laws which can produce similar results over a wide range of situations.
You’ll find compliance from a child you are trying to calm, or how companies can get an edge over their rivals, overall satisfaction at the workplace, or just daily situations.
So for the youth who wish to find their feet at work, Cialdini chalks out answers- from how you can win people over at interviews, to being on favourable terms with your boss and co-workers. “When you go for an interview you would normally say, thank you for inviting me. Well, I would advise you to also ask them, ‘So what made you invite me here for an interview? What do you see in me? And this has been seen in so many cases — your interviewers will be in a state of mind which will make them more favourable to your candidacy,” he shares.
When it comes to gaining your boss’s approval, he says, “So let’s say you have a new idea for a project. What you can do to get support from your boss, is create a plan- show it to him or her. Don’t ask for an opinion. Ask for advice. They will then feel part of the plan, and involved. You are then on the same level. This has known to have worked as well many times.”