No one wants you to know this….
All too Often You Heard, “NO!” and it had Nothing to do with You
She just got off of video chat. Her new boyfriend will be calling in 5 minutes. She found out the person she thought was her best friend had been saying gossipy bad stuff about her boyfriend cheating on his old girlfriend to a bunch of her friends that went out to dinner last night. She wasn’t able to have been there because she had to work late. Now her tribe thinks he’s a jerk and a cheat. Jenna actually knows the facts and he had been loyal. But now everyone think that Jenna’s new boyfriend is sleazy. She will see almost all of these women tomorrow at work.
He’s been on some travel sites looking at a trip they can go on to have some fun. He is just about ready to spring the idea.
“How’s it going Jenna?”
She doesn’t tell him about the incident with her “friends.” She says everything is fine and he is so excited about the trip that he doesn’t see her emotional state.
“No, I don’t want to go on a trip. I can’t. I have a lot going on and I don’t really want to talk tonight.”
20 minutes ago she would have said, “of course!” She would have been excited. But information that was passing to her group has caused her to feel self conscious about spending time with him.
The conversation ends and the guy is stuck as to what could have possibly gone wrong. Something wrong with suggesting a trip to London? What the heck?
This is how real life works on this planet.
Before you even MET the prospect, customer, girl, client…. Before they saw your ad or presentation today… two things happened that would change their minds from yes to no. (A dozen actually but two in particular you want to think about for today.)
First, BOTH you and she had a set of feelings, thoughts, emotions and expectations earlier in the day about everything from eggs and bacon to the news to the clothes your daughter and her son wore to school.
Second, you BOTH have unconscious preconceptions about every type of person you are both going to meet today. All of these notions are based on what you’ve experienced, been told by Mom, Dad, media, and the overheard experiences of those close to you with others.
For example, a woman (man) might hate men (women) because of something bad that happened to them decades ago. Now you, the nice, kind charming person that you are…you are going to meet this person and attempt to persuade them.
You have no idea what’s about to happen…but you should have known it was an absolute possibility and prepared for it long ago. But you didn’t.
Few people do because they are very wrapped up in what they think matters in influencing others. They really believe it is all about them-Selves. But…it’s not. In fact, 70% of their decision has nothing to do with you…
When you walk in the door you are going to trigger past experiences that person has had with other types of people that you remind them of. (This is in addition to the gossip that was said about you before you met!)
Prepare for this every single day.
Brains instantly and forever categorize people based on differing characteristics. It’s simple science. Such categorizing can lead to problems, but it is as natural as eating lunch or thinking about sex. It all comes from surviving two million years of human existence.
In the past Jenna has gone against the will and opinions of her friends only to have her relationships go to hell. And of course the price she paid in “I told you so…” was huge.
Similarly, her new boyfriend needs to be aware of the fact that Jenna is not responding and reacting as Jenna, but as JENNA + THE GIRLS.
Being aware of this singular fact will increase your persuasiveness exponentially.
Jenna’s new boyfriend doesn’t just need Jenna to like him… he needs the girls, the parents, the kids and dog to like him. I call this “The Rolodex” if Jenna doesn’t actually talk with all these people but is influenced by their “being over her shoulder.”
Then of course Jenna’s boyfriend has to deal with any demons Jenna has based upon which old boyfriends he looks and sounds like!
Example: Research reveals that if you want to influence someone else, you are more likely to succeed if you look like them, look like a friend of theirs, or look like a family member of theirs.
And that’s just a piece of the physical appearance contextualization. There is your voice… There is what you are going to hear and how you carry your Self that all play into the context of an initial meeting.
Still this is just the beginning.
Oh…the person you want to influence? Remember they have preconceptions as well. And the preconceptions all contribute to an environment and “chemistry” between two people that is either constructive or destructive.
People will either identify with each other or not. They will either see themselves as being cut from the same cloth (and perhaps liking it or not)…or not.
A simple example of how small this connection or lack thereof can be?
Example: The letter your name starts with will influence people you do business with!
If it’s the same letter, or if that letter sounds the same as yours, you are MORE likely to persuade the other person.
You have the experiences, both categorized and recent waiting for categorization, those that happened this morning, as well as your emotional state of mind going into your sales situation or influential communication.
The same thing is true when people arrive at your website.
Key Point: Those two stories of their own individual days in two heads BEFORE they meet in real life have dramatic impact on hearing “yes” or “no.”
Now let’s do something about it.
Context & Persuasion
KEY POINT: All persuasion and influence begins with the context…and there are four basic types of context at work in any persuasive communication.
Which brings you to your FIRST STEP of persuading others!
1. Determine and Control the Context
No matter how good or bad an influencer is or how good/bad the product is, the CONTEXT can turn all most all “no’s” into “yes’s” and vice versa.
How weird would it be to close a sale standing by a railing overlooking a 30 foot drop. Think it might influence the result? You bet.
A context is a pretty easy thing to understand. There are a MINIMUM of FOUR “contexts” going on in any situation!
1. There are the people who are “there.”
2. You are at a place and for some reason.
3. It is a certain time of the day.
4. You and the person you are seeing BOTH experienced certain things before arriving at this moment in time.
People change “selves” or behave differently as the context changes. These changes also change the decisions any one individual will make.
Think about the Holidays.
Maybe you were at the relatives or they were at your place. Maybe everyone their best behavior…at least until you started talking about politics…but everyone was sort of in that “family mode.”
In “family mode” a person often starts acting like they did as a kid with this group of older or younger siblings.
How does this manifest and what does it mean for influence?
When people enter contexts they’ve been in before (like family gatherings) they revert to behaving as they did when the context was switched “on” and active.
Speaking styles change. Thinking styles shift dramatically. The words people say change. The decisions people make and who makes them for another…all change.
That’s an example of how you…your Self changes, instantly.
The context and the environment are monster-sized factors in changing and predicting behavior.
Leaving family mode and returning back to influencing others in an “office setting”…
…If someone had been working all day in a setting where they were competing with others for a promotion, they would be thinking more about themselves as a separate distinctive person who is unlike others; their mindset will be independent.
In this case, that person as a shopper at lunch would ascribe characteristics to the product that are opposite of those associated with the display surface. Thus, they would regard the mug, shoe, or watch as hip and modern when it is displayed on a wood table, but natural or traditional on a glass table.
Playing chess or having a game of pool with your girlfriend or spouse will cause different decisions immediately thereafter than would have happened had the two been watching a movie or talking with friends! This is one of the big reasons people say “no” to other people.
What kind of other stuff changes the context and thus people’s decisions in say a retail setting?
What is an example of a context change that no one would ever think about? Ever so subtle but absolutely brilliant…
Many brands are positioned on dimensions such as trendy (e.g., Diesel), traditional (e.g., L.L. Bean), or all-natural (e.g., Aveda). Meyers-Levy’s findings indicate that display surfaces or merchandising can either bolster or damage such product perceptions. For retailers, this insight can also help in choosing displays that offer continuity with their brands.
“Retailers cannot directly control shoppers’ perceptions of their goods, but they can anticipate or manipulate the kind of cognition – self-view – their target consumer uses,” says Meyers-Levy. To some degree, this could be accomplished by considering customers’ demographic profiles, but marketers could also try to actively shape shoppers’ mindsets.
KEY POINT: Meyers-Levy demonstrated that simply putting up posters that encouraged shoppers to adopt an independent or an inter-dependent self-view had this effect, thereby influencing their perceptions of products displayed on different table top surfaces.
For consumers, these findings offer an opportunity to be savvy. “If a shopper is aware of the tools used to enhance brand reputation or sales,” says Meyers-Levy, “they will be much more likely to make an informed decision, rather than going home with the wrong product.”
That’s a pretty excellent strategy for the moment.
You can remember it this way. We have all the scientific research above. That allows one to know that the context really is a huge factor in persuading others to your way of thinking.
But research is a context and the internal associations you have to research might be that research isn’t exciting or that it is all science and not real world.
Here is a real world question.
How do you feel about ice cream cones?
Ask me with any other image and I’d say they are OK. Ask me while I see this image and what do you think the difference is?
Context changes perception and feelings from OK to something fun, sexy, zesty, tasty. The context changes how you feel. In fact, the context is so powerful in this specific case it is difficult to remember the prior context. See what I mean? Go ahead take a peek at it then turn the page.
Back to the store….
Consumers who stand on carpeted flooring feel comforted, but they judge products close to them to be less comforting, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
In the study, authors Joan Meyers Levy (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis), Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Lan Jiang (both University of British Columbia) explored the feelings evoked by the two most common flooring types in retail environments: hard vinyl tile and carpet.
“We first conducted a study to show that carpeted floors indeed evoke a greater sense of physical comfort than tiled flooring,” the authors explain.
(Remember this is just ONE aspect of a specific context. They could have just as easily tested lighting, temperature, the number of people in the store, whether it was men or women, elderly people or young children.)
“Based on this finding, we addressed a more practical and intriguing question: would these bodily sensations elicited by the flooring transfer to people’s assessments of products that they observe while shopping?”
The researchers had participants stand on either soft pile carpet or hard tile and view objects that were either close or moderately far away.
When products were extremely far away, individuals’ product judgments were no longer influenced by their bodily sensations.
That’s called “Psychological Distancing.” It’s a pretty important element in influence that no one wants to teach you about because it is easily misused and abused.
People who examined items while standing on a plush carpet judged products that were close as being ***less*** comforting than products that were moderately far away.
“The bodily sensations elicited by the flooring are more likely to be used as a comparison standard, not an interpretive frame,” the authors explain.
The most important elements in influence are the contextual elements. The ceiling and the carpeting cause DRAMATIC SHIFTS in people’s decision making.
In contrast, when items were placed moderately far away, their bodily sensations unconsciously guided their product interpretations.
Is this a life changing take home for you? Read carefully. Participants perceived the more distant products as comforting when they stood on carpet.
In a final study, consumers could more easily make out the contents of a gift basket from a moderate distance than from a close one.
“Interestingly, the results reversed in this case. When viewed from a moderate distance, the gift basket was judged as more comforting when individuals stood on the hard tile floor rather than the carpeted floor.
These results further supported our premise that it is the viewing clarity that ultimately determines the direction of the influence of flooring-induced bodily sensations,” the authors conclude.
People in the United States, Canada, The UK, Australia, tend to see themselves as individuals. (It’s hard for me to think of …me…in any other way.) But the research shows that in lots of other parts of the world, particularly in Asia, people think of themselves as PART of a greater WHOLE.
Because you and I have been raised to be more individualistic, we see things through that “filter.” But the fact is, if you want to really get influence, if you want to understand persuasion, you absolutely want to try on the world and look through the filters of other people.
This is one of the most difficult thing for people to do and yet it separates the smart persuader from the guy who said all the right words.
See why this was for smart people?
Four Categories of Context
Generally speaking, there are four kinds of contexts that everything else happens in:
Mindsets: What the people are experiencing emotionally and what they have experienced particularly that day, and/or in similar situations in the past.
Places: We all respond and react (unconsciously) *very* different in different settings. (Think of your behavior in a library, hospital waiting room, sports stadium, McDonald’s, elegant restaurant.) The “setting” matters. It matters a lot. It’s not that an elegant restaurant is ALWAYS the best setting, it certainly may not be! It requires testing to find out just WHERE the context will be, because EVERYTHING in the environment matters.
People: We also react differently around different people, morphing some of their personality into ours and vice versa. So, when you communicate with someone, who ELSE is around that is going to influence your “client’s” decision, other than you. And yes, the waitress, will definitely impact a decision. So will the service at McDonald’s or the vendor at the sports stadium. The woman in the booth next to you… they all influence…like the gravity of the sun and the moon. It’s quite an interplay.
Things: If I have a video camera on my desk and you walk in, you behave differently than you would have. If it’s facing you and the camera is on, and you know it because you see the red dot, you once again behave differently from how you would have otherwise.
All of the things in the environment including the clothes on *you* persuade. Everything matters. Everything triggers thoughts and feelings. Everything causes other things to happen inside that move you closer or further away from your objective.
Being able to control these variables to their most optimal level is the KEY TO PERSUASION SUCCESS.
The first step is to Optimally Control the Context.
The second step is to Control the Outcome. You ever wonder why some people can point to others and they do their bidding? Here’s how…