Influence at it’s most elegant is not so much about causing someone to change their mind, but to cause people to decide in a specific way based upon how they already think.
For example: Most people think that to make a decision, or a good decision, they need a lot of information. This is inaccurate. Generally speaking, too much information clutters up thinking and causes all kinds of mental errors.
KEY PERSUASION POINT: The more choices you give a person the less likely they are to take action!
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about choice in the persuasion process, but here is some new research I think you’ll find immediately applicable.
Check yourself on these persuasion quizzes and see how you will do in real life!
You always want to be *prepared* with an encyclopedia of information but don’t give it to your client.
In real life here is what happened in a recent study:
Hundreds of Medical doctors were given information about a patient. He’s 67 years old, and suffers from chronic pain in his right hip.
As the medical doctor, do you not prescribe medication and refer the patient to an orthopedic specialist, or do you prescribe medication? (Two choices!)
Answer: Each option received half of the “votes.”
BUT when a second medication option was added to the previous choices, 3/4 voted against the medication (for orthopedic referral)!
Now think about that. The doctor was given an additional medication to choose from. Logic would dictate that some doctors would find the new medication appealing or dismiss it and return to their original choice.
KEY INFLUENCE POINT: People, even doctors, aren’t logical…or close. People will make decisions based upon how YOU describe an event and not based upon the actual event itself.
KEY INFLUENCE POINT: Adding the extra option muddles thinking and pushes people to the more different solution. (In this case the referral to the specialist.)
This is good news if someone MUST choose an option and you hope they choose the most DIFFERENT option. But the fact is that most influence situations are not going to work like that.
For my friends in the financial planning community, I can see them saying, “Would you want to have your money in a CD, an international stock fund or an international bond fund?” If you were hoping to get your client to go international, you just sunk your chances. The two international choices makes the certificate of deposit an almost sure thing.
Take a peek at another study of medical doctors and persuasion.
Two different groups of doctors were given a rundown of the symptoms of a woman suffering from severe abdominal pain.
The first group of doctors, choosing between, “ectopic pregnancy”, “gastroenteritis,” “None of the above” were asked: What is the diagnosis?
A second group of doctors was offered three additional choices.
50% diagnosed pregnancy or gastroenteritis
50% selected “none of the above.”
But when more choices were added, the doctors became much less certain.
31% diagnosed pregnancy or gastroenteritis
69% none of the above or one of the three additional choices
Add more choices and people change their minds. Are they changing them in the right way? I’m not a medical doctor, I don’t know.
There’s one other fascinating look at “framing” that will help you determine how to frame your questions and benefits to your clients.
Richard Thaler asked hundreds of students…
“How much would you pay to eliminate a 1 in 1000 chance of immediate death.”
Shortly thereafter he asked the same students, “How much would you have to be paid for a 1 in 1000 chance of immediate death?”
Wouldn’t pay $200 to eliminate the chance of death. (First question)
Wouldn’t accept less than $50,000 for the extra risk. (Second question)
Amazing? I thought so as well.
KEY INFLUENCE POINT: The frame is more than important to how you will cause someone to choose… often more important than the event…in this case, your death…
Finally, here is a gift for you.
People lend more weight to information they receive today, about anything or anyone, than they do previous information or knowledge. I’ll talk more about this in the future, but I wanted to give you the concept…today! Think about it for a minute….people weigh the most recent information as more important than previous information….
Now, what will you do with that gift?
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