Most people in relationships, business, working in a professional practice or selling, will instantly confirm for you that men and women think (process information) very differently.
Men and women not only have different buying “strategies,” their resistance levels and changes in resistance during conversation shift in different directions when presented with the identical information.
Finally, their behavior in the buying process is very different.
Knowing all of that, is only helpful if you know WHAT is different and what you can do with that knowledge.
Question: How do you cause women vs. men to say “yes” to you?
When influencing someone to buy you, your products or services you can choose to be effective with both men and women or… not.
To be effective, you utilize different processes with men than with women. Simple enough.
Obviously, in order to persuade, you must get past resistance in order to get to “yes.”
There are a number of methods to overcome resistance. But the methods are NOT equally effective with men vs. women.
Consider the notion of distraction.
For years people who study hypnosis have been taught that distraction can be a powerful tool.
What happens for that therapist who uses distraction?
Completely mixed results depending on whether they are communicating with men or women.
Look and see…
Does resistance reduce or increase when SLIGHTLY distracted?
It’s really easy to screw up any request for agreement or compliance, in any context.
The tiniest distraction can cause an almost guaranteed “yes” response and turn into a “no.” And the opposite is also true!
Want to lower a man’s resistance to you and your message? How about women?
Here’s how a tiny distraction can help or hurt a proposal or change an opinion…
This simple but remarkable experiment reveals what reduces resistance to a proposal (an idea) and what does not:
University men and women are divided into five groups.
A short written proposal that says that, “exit exams will be starting in one year to qualify for graduation,” are given to members of each group.
No one is going to like this message.
The question is, how upset will they be when they hear the message?
To begin with they privately ask a bunch of students, in writing, how they feel about the idea.
Then they ask another group the same thing and then add distractions to their proposal.
In this case the distractions are in the form of gift certificates of differing values.
These various denomination gift certificates are attached to the bad news sheet….good for cash value at local merchant. The gift certificates can be 50 cents, $1, $2, $2.50, or $5.00.
The gift certificate is used as a distraction from the message which is in no way related to the gift certificate.
The study is assessing the distractability and emotional response to a message once a distraction is introduced…and then find the differences between the men and women.
The people are told that, “the gift certificates were attached to the proposals because they were left over from a previous group.” The people have no idea that the gift certificates are relevant to their response to the proposal.
The people are asked to respond to the proposal by evaluating how opposed they are to the proposal.
A 1-5 scale is used where “one” is no significant opposition (they don’t care). A “five” is high opposition and they are very upset about it.
To understand the differences between reducing or raising women’s resistance compared to men’s, we first evaluate the responses of men.
There is a big difference between men and women!
The Control Group of men averaged out to being upset and opposed to the idea (3.5 on a scale of 0-5)
Now, how does each distraction impact resistance and opposition to the proposal from men?
50 cent certificate attached?: Almost no opposition to the proposal! (0.5/5.0)
$1.00 gift certificate attached? These men are upset just like the controls! (3.5/5.0)
$2.50 gift certificate attached? The men in this group on average are modestly opposed and upset. (2.5/5.0)
$5.00 gift certificate attached? These men are VERY VERY upset/oppositional! (4.0/5.0)
Think for a moment.
Some of the men are given a $5 gift certificate with the bad news and they hate the news more than when given nothing!
A similar group of men are given a 50 cent gift certificate with the bad news and they could now care less about the news.
Clearly the “bigger distraction” caused men to much more upset (greater resistance) where a meager throw away distraction caused them to not care.
Want men to accept your bad news idea? Reduce their resistance?
The 50 cent gift certificate did the trick and remarkably so. In fact, it virtually eliminated their resistance.
With men, a tiny, meaningless distraction is all it takes to convert great opposition to seeing something as a non-threat!
A reasonable guess would mean that giving someone a cup of coffee or a bottle of water while making a proposal, might be the equivalent of a 50 cent certificate in a business setting.
Giving them $5, however, caused their opposition to be increased when compared to the group who had no gift certificate paper clipped to their proposal.
KEY POINT: What’s it mean?
It means that as a group, men were very opposed to an idea and when you gave them a VERY SMALL/meaningless token “gift” it softened their position DRAMATICALLY. But when you increased the the size of the gift it didn’t help matters, it made them more upset in the largest amount.
A fancy dinner probably will go a long way toward making things worse with men.
What reduces resistance with women?
What were the results with the women in the study?
First, women were more opposed to the idea in the control group than men were. They didn’t like the idea of exit exams. How upset? A lot for the control group! (4.0/5.0)
But check this out. Add ANY distraction and women become LESS RESISTANT in dramatic fashion.
50 cent Gift Certificate attached? (2.0/5.0)
$1.00 Gift Certificate attached? (1.5/5.0)
$2.50 Gift Certificate attached? (1.75/5.0)
$5.00 Gift Certificate attached/ (1.0/5.0)
A $5 gift certificate triggered the women to not care about the bad news proposal. The resistance vanishes with a gift.
Therefore, this is the OPPOSITE of how men react.
The differences between men and women are stark. Women let down all of their defenses when they saw the gift certificates, particularly as they increased in size.
And remember, in the minds of the groups, the certificates were simply leftovers from a previous study. These aren’t “special gifts.”
Want a woman to accept your bad news proposal?
Attach that $5 gift certificate!!!!
Women were more resistant than men to the proposal in the control group; and as the gift certificate denominations increased the resistance in the various groups decreased!
Paul McCartney was wrong. At least with women…money CAN buy you love…The bigger the distraction, the less resistance to the message.
KEY POINT: Women were more easily distracted from their position as larger gift certificates were received.
Remember that men and women process these distractions to your bad news proposal in the OPPOSITE way.
Look at another interesting study…..
In this case, 100 college students were presented with one of four “good news” proposals summarized below.
Freeze tuition hikes for five years.
Lower parking permit costs by 30%.
Minors to be offered in any field of study.
Weight room hours to be extended.
Then the groups were given one of three statements as deterrents to liking the proposal they were given.
The deterrent (text) statements were divided into three “strength of deterrent levels.”
A deterrent is something that is supposed to stop someone from doing or thinking something.
The deterrent statements read like this:
Weak Deterrent: “a few faculty members are opposed to this idea but the rest are neutral.”
Moderate Deterrent: “about half of the faculty members are against this proposal, the rest are neutral.”
Strong Deterrent: “the vast majority of faculty are against this proposal but a few are neutral.”
How did the people respond when they were told the varying opinions of the faculty?
Results Differ Between Men and Women!!!!
First the Men:
control (no deterrent, just the good news) 5.0/5.0 They really liked the proposals of course!
A weak deterrent? 4.0/5.0 They didn’t care that much what a few faculty thought.
moderate deterrent? 5.0/5.0 They didn’t care what have the faculty thought at all.
The strong deterrent? 4.0/5.0 They didn’t care that much what most of the faculty thought.
Ultimately the men didn’t care much what the faculty thought. They liked the proposals and basically were ready to tell the faculty to stick it. (You can imagine this, I bet…)
The moderate argument against their point of view did nothing at all to change their stance. The weak and strong deterrents did change them a little…but not much.
Important Note: The men were COMPLETELY resistant to the moderate message. They gave in a bit on the weak and strong deterrents.
The men were not going to change their opinion because of the opinions of authorities.
Now the Women:
control (no deterrent, just the good news) 4.5/5.0 They really liked the proposal of course!
The weak deterrent? 4.0/5.0 Didn’t change their minds much.
The moderate deterrent? 3.5/5.0 Knowing half the faculty disapproved started to sway the women.
The strong deterrent? 1.5/5.0 Knowing that most of the faculty disapproved caused their opinions to almost match the strong resistant faculty opinion.
As in the previous study, the more intense the pressure, the stronger the argument, the more likely they were to yield to pressure..
Women loved the ideas almost as much as the men in the control groups, and then completely shifted to faculty opinion vs. their own best interest and showed faculty resistance when faced with strong oppositional arguments.
In this case, the behavior could be analyzed as the women wanted to be seen as being agreeable perhaps to the faculty opinions as they got stronger.
Do women process more cognitively/logically? Do women cave more/faster than men?
Are men more stubborn? Do they fight just to fight?
Want the Key Take Aways?
The potent initial force you reckon with when influencing others is resistance.
People can become more or less resistant because of minor distractions and gifts.
People can also become more or less resistant to you because of the perceived conversations they will have in their mind with other people who are not present in the moment.
Specifically, when men hear that a group of leaders disagrees with their belief, men’s resistance to the opposing majority stays strong.
Women learning that a group of leaders disagree with their belief causes their beliefs to moderate from strong resistance to not really caring one way or the other.
Perhaps this is because women are more likely to listen to the opinions of people perceived to be wiser than themselves. Perhaps it’s because they cave in and men typically don’t.
What matters is not your interpretation but the RESULT.
Here are the key points you take home today:
- With women, resistance is not likely to occur when the strong counter force is NOT related to the belief/emotion. Get those distractions ready!
- With men, resistance is likely when a deterrent directly challenges the belief/attitude. So you might want to think twice about making BIG arguments to men to see who is right or to try and convince him.
Better?: Frame your communication gently, off-handedly to men and save your most persuasive arguments for women.
KEY: With men, contrary to old ideas, where persuasion has been found to be stronger with stronger arguments, it now appears that stronger arguments will actually increase resistance/reactance, making persuasion more difficult.
Fewer/weaker might just be better with men.
Here’s a bonus take home:
Research also reveals that even strongly held attitudes by men will shrink in the face of weaker arguments!!!
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