Maximize Your Influence
Anger is a secondary emotion. A prospect's anger is usually an indicator that something else is askew and that he needs or wants attention.  When we are angry – we want attention or action now. You can assist in diminishing his anger by determining the key issue he is upset about. It is also often effective to ask for his help, opinions, or advice. This will usually diffuse his anger or even change his attitude and demeanor completely. In some circumstances, you may want to use anger to make a certain point or to evoke a certain reaction. However when someone is angry they are more likely to blame someone else. In their mind it is not their fault. When they are sad they will usually blame the situation. When people become angry they tend to rely on intuition or an educated guess.  Anger triggers non analytical information processing.   Anger causes us to use mental shortcuts to decide if the argument is right.   An experiment was done that induced anger. The participants that were angry tended to discriminate between weak and strong persuasive arguments more than those in a neutral mood.  In other words, those that were angry tended to be more influenced by heuristic cues (intuition) than those in a sad or neutral mood.
Direct download: Podcast_169.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 1:15pm CDT

Willingness to confront your fears is critical to mental programming. Great persuaders have mastered their fears. You will be tempted to leave your fears buried, but they will invariably come back to haunt you. It is much better to deal with fears directly, especially considering that whatever we fear most is never as bad as we think. Human infants are born with only two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. A newborn baby fears nothing else. All other fears are learned. The good news is that if we can learn fears, we can unlearn them. How do you unlearn a deeply ingrained fear? You must face it. That's right—you must deliberately put yourself in the situation where you are confronted with it and there is no escape. Any new skill comes only through extensive practice. There is no way around it. Let's say you have a terrible fear of public speaking. If you want to be a brilliant public speaker, then you've got a lot of public speaking to do. You must force yourself to present to others over and over again. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld jokes about how people are more afraid of public speaking than of dying. He says they would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy! The truth is, we usually find out, once we've stepped up and faced a fear directly, that it wasn't so bad. Most of our fears are exaggerated doubts or they are based on unrealities. How will you ever come to this realization if you don't look your fears in the face?
Direct download: Podcast_168.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 12:27am CDT

On Episode 167 of Maximize Your Influence, Kurt and Steve interview Matt Powell. Matt asks an important question other personal growth planning books never ask: what if you are choosing the wrong goals? Having taught thousands of students and selling thousands of books on learning methods, Matt brings his systematic approach to achieving goals and changing your future. The best planning process in the world won't help you if you are choosing the wrong goals. After cutting through the reality of the 'why' we fail instead of the 'what' we fail doing, Matt shows you how to stop failing in the future, a full proof method of choosing the right goals, and then build on your success.  Matt's book gives you one of the most in-depth 'how to' methods you've ever experienced...taking you from last year’s successes to fixing your failures, from understanding your routes to success to setting your calendar up for achieving goals. Topics include - How to 'undo' the past - cutting ties with the failures - The keys to understanding why you fail, not what you fail doing - Success planning for all areas of your life - Creating attainable goals you'll be able to achieve - The psychology and neurology of failure and how to change quickly - Learning from failure - how avoiding failure is a failure - How to reduce stress and increase time management - Understanding and using the four kinds of 'success capital' you have right now - Productivity planner and planning using the Hierarchy of Attainability - A method for achieving even the hardest goals much much more.  Check out the interview to see how Matt's power packed information on "Brain Wiring" will better help you achieve success!
Direct download: Podcast_167.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 9:06am CDT

If you've been in sales or business for long, you know that a "referred" lead is 10 times better than most cold calls.  On this episode, Kurt and Steve interview Donald Kelly, the Sales Evangelist about how you can double your referrals! Just like most of you, Donald Kelly is a real life B2B sales professional hustling in the world of software sales. If you're like him, you had no clue how to really sell when you started in sales. Over the years, Donald has received training/coaching from some of the industry’s leading experts. He applied what he was learning and started seeing a significant difference in his performance and income. He started doing “BIG THINGS”! He personally feels that when you find something of value you should share it! That’s why he love sales so much. He became very passionate and started “evangelizing” about sales and was dubbed “The Sales Evangelist”. Donald offers some of the top training on sales and referral generation in the market today!
Direct download: Podcast_166.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 2:58pm CDT

Well, it's finally over.  The 2016 presidential election is in the books.  Wow.  Just wow!  Kurt and Steve discuss the election and some of the tactics used by both sides that ultimately led to the victory by Donald Trump. If you’ve ever conducted research on relieving stress, you’ve undoubtedly come across advice stating that a key factor for reducing your level of stress is to try to live more in the present moment. Most of the feelings that cause us stress, like anger and worry, are born from reliving moments in the past or trying to predict what will come in the future. We’re told to slow down, appreciate the here and now, and let go of the things we cannot do anything about. Unfortunately for most of us, as time goes by and technology evolves, it seems to become harder and harder to do that. We are bombarded by flashing lights, electronic tones and endless notifications prompting us to think about everything except what we are doing right now, at this very moment. You’ve most likely had at least one notification of some kind pop up on your computer or cell phone in the time it took you to read this far. We are constantly on the move, our minds are continually racing, and we are, mentally, always somewhere else. Author Eckhart Tolle may have put it best when he wrote the following lines in his book, “The Power Of Now”. Tolle writes, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” It is possible for anyone to ease stress in their life by simply learning to be more mindful of the present, keeping their mind from running off into the past or the future and focusing on abundance. Except for very few specific circumstances in life, stress does not exist in the present, it only exists in the mind. Many studies have been conducted, which prove that hypnosis can have outstanding effects on reducing stress and anxiety. One such study looked at the effects of hypnosis when used to deal with stress experienced by first-year medical students as they dealt with exams. Results showed that those students who used self-hypnosis techniques experienced much lower levels of distress during exam periods. Hypnosis can help you to live more in the moment and reduce the stress in your life by allowing you to reach a relaxed mental state more easily. Hypnosis can help you remove the triggers that cause worry and anxiety, helping to stop runaway thoughts and allowing you to maintain your focus on the present moment. You will be able to enjoy life again, regain that young at heart feeling, and let go of all those things outside of your control that have worked their way into your subconscious.
Direct download: Podcast_165.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 10:56pm CDT

Kurt and Steve start this episode by discussing how we can achieve effective presence as a persuader.  Kurt also laments the end of boating season.  They then continue their discussion about dealing with difficult people...specifically delving into low self esteem. One easy way to boost someone’s esteem is to offer sincere, genuine thanks.  Show a little gratitude for what they have done or even will do.  Never assume that they know how much you care or appreciate them.  Many leaders feel that the paycheck is enough to show thanks.  Sure most people like the money, but if you look at the complaints of people in the workplace, the top 5 are all esteem and ego related, not money related.  These people will either leave the company or do just the minimum at their job.  One of the main reasons you see dissatisfaction in the workplace is because they were never thanked or given any recognition for their efforts.  At first it might seem a bit unnatural to use thanks and gratitude, since of most of us have not experienced an environment where doing so was common, but it’s worth the energy and effort.  Praise not only is the right thing to do, but gives them sense of job security. It is important to be able to read people and understand the signals of low self esteem.  It might be the opposite of what you think.  It could be bullying, always having to be right, gossiping, quick to take offense, or resentment of others.   Charismatic people have the ability to read these signs and enhance their self esteem.  There has always been a link between esteem and performance.  Boosting their esteem increases their confidence, they have better attitudes and they perform better.  I am not saying you can never say anything negative or critical.  I just want you to be aware that one negative comment has more emotional impact than ten positive comments.  Just keep in mind that the use of praise affects us to the very core, so use it properly.  
Direct download: Podcast_164.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 12:18pm CDT

On this episode, Kurt and Steve interview Jonah Berger.  Jonah is a Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a world-renowned expert on word of mouth, social influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published dozens of articles in top‐tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Berger is the bestselling author of multiple books including Contagious: Why Things Catch On (hundreds of thousands of copies are in print in over 30 languages) and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior. Berger is a popular speaker at major conferences and events and often consults for companies like Apple, Google, GE, Coca‐Cola, Vanguard, 3M, Kaiser Permanente, Unilever, and The Gates Foundation.
Direct download: Podcast_163.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 4:02pm CDT

We all have them in our lives: difficult people. Admit it...when you heard "difficult people" you automatically thought of a couple by name, didn't you! So what is a difficult person?  This person is difficult by nature and/or disagrees with you and may even actively work against you. For a difficult person, use these techniques: Find a common belief and establish a common ground. Use appropriate humor to break the ice. Don't start the presentation with an attack on their position. You are only trying to persuade on one point; don't talk about anything else that could trigger disagreement. Because of your differences, they will question your credibility. Increase your credibility with studies from experts or anything that will support your claim. They will try to find reasons to not like you; don't give them any. Don't tell them you are going to try to persuade them. Express that you are looking for a win-win outcome rather than a win-lose situation. Show them you've done your homework. Respect their feelings, values, and integrity. Use logical reasoning as clearly and as carefully as possible. Use the Law of Connectivity and the Law of Balance. (Maximum Influence)
Direct download: Podcast_162.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 10:25pm CDT

On this episode, Kurt and Steve read some listener mail from an business owner who finds himself dealing with a lot of calls from prospects just wanting quotes.  They discuss how the power of "no" can draw prospects into a conversation where actual value can be established. This then unfolds to a discussion about the power of questions. Of all the tools in your persuasion toolbox, questioning is probably the one most often used by Power Persuaders. Questions are used in the persuasion process to create mental involvement, to guide the conversation and to find out what your prospect needs. Questioning is a very diverse and useful tool. An important study observed hundreds of negotiators in action in an attempt to discover what it takes to be a top negotiator. Their key finding was that skilled negotiators ask more than twice as many questions as average negotiators. How do you form a good question? First, design your questions ahead of time. The structure of your questions dictates how your listener will answer them. When asked to estimate a person's height, people will answer differently depending on whether the question asked is "How tall is he?" versus "How short is he?" In one study, when asking how tall versus how short a basketball player was, researchers received dramatically different results. The "how tall" question received the guess of 79 inches whereas the "how short" question received the guess of 69 inches. Words have a definite effect on how people respond. "How fast was the car going?" suggests a high speed, but "At what speed was the car traveling?" suggests a moderate speed. "How far was the intersection?" suggests the intersection was far away. One facet of questioning is the use of leading questions. Stanford professor Elizabeth Loftus researched how leading questions influenced eyewitness testimonies. In one project, her subjects watched a one-minute multiple-car accident. One group was asked, "About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?" The second group was asked, "How fast were the cars going when they hit?" The third group was asked, "How fast were they going when they contacted?" The first group estimated that the cars were going about 40.8 miles an hour, the second group estimated 34 miles an hour, and the third group estimated 31.8 miles an hour.  The same question led to three different answers just by using different words. Leading questions not only alter the way we interpret facts, but they also influence what we remember. In another study conducted by Loftus, subjects who were asked, "Did you see the broken headlight?" were three times more likely to answer yes than subjects who were asked, "Did you see a broken headlight?" When you are probing for information, it is a good idea to ask open-ended questions. It is too easy to respond to a question that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." For example, instead of saying, "Do you wish you had decided differently?" ask, "How did you feel after you made that decision?" Then the person's answer can be used to lead into your more detailed questions—"Why did you make that decision?" or "What do you wish you could change about your decision?"— without seeming to intrusive. A good rule of thumb is to start with the easiest questions first. You want to draw your audience into the conversation and help them feel relaxed and comfortable. People are encouraged by answers they know are right. Begin the conversation by starting with a general topic instead of a specific subject. You need to get the wheels in your listeners' minds rolling before you ask them to answer the more specific questions.
Direct download: Podcast_161.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 4:49pm CDT

On this episode, Kurt and Steve interview Rob Kendall, of  Rob has devoted his life to understanding how humans converse with one another and what makes them go wrong...and right.  Rob its the author of BlameStorming and WorkStorming. If you know that you need to have a challenging conversation, it’s worth preparing thoroughly for it. The preparation time may be disproportionate to the length of the conversation itself, but if the conversation’s important enough, your preparation will rarely be wasted. As a friend of mine was always told, ‘Prepare thoroughly and deviate with confidence’. There are a number of things to consider: 1. Time and place. What’s the appropriate time and place for the conversation? If you squash it in between other meetings, you have no leeway for it to overrun. Is it best to have it now or later? And is it best to stay in the office or would it be more conducive to have it outside? 2. Set it up to succeed. Would it be beneficial for the other person to know (broadly) in advance what it’s about, or not? At a minimum, you may want to make sure that they’ve cleared enough time in their diary, so they don’t arrive and say they only have 15 minutes free. 3. Set the context. Once you meet up, make clear to them what you want to speak about. If you beat about the bush too much, the other person will wonder what on earth’s going on, and may not even be clear what you’ve said. 4. Make your commitment clear. This is vital and can often be missed. When you start a difficult conversation, you need to set the context. Take this example of Mia, who’s given some feedback by her boss. She’s highly regarded at work and is seen as someone with the potential for promotion in the coming year, but her boss assumes she knows this and starts their conversation by saying: As you know, we’ve gathered some feedback from your colleagues and there are a few areas that have come to light that I want to discuss.’ Mia’s immediately on the defensive, while her boss is surprised that she’s not being more constructive. It would help if he began by saying: ‘Mia, you’re highly valued and we’re really keen for you to progress to a more senior role. You’re already exceptionally strong in some areas, and need to develop in others.’ 5. Make the distinction between ‘facts’ and ‘stories’ or ‘opinions’. A fact may be: ‘You’ve been late 3 times in the last 10 working days’. A story or opinion would be: ‘You’re unreliable.’ There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having opinions, but it’s better to state it this way: ‘I have an opinion that you’re unreliable.’ 6. Acknowledge their perspective. Ask them questions so that you can understand their perspective (this doesn’t mean you have to agree with it). And then listen. If you’re not prepared to listen, don’t bother asking, but don’t expect much engagement from them either. Prior to a meeting most people spend their time thinking about what they want to say, but it may be even more important to consider what questions you want to ask. 7. Get clear what’s going to happen next. Obviously this depends on the situation, but it’s worth agreeing together a clear action or a date to review things after some reflection time. 8. Be aware. Lastly, be aware that – however well you conduct the conversation – what you say might come as a shock to the other person. In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross introduced a hypothesis based on her work with terminally ill patients. In the majority of cases she found that patients went through a spectrum of different emotional states: beginning with denial then leading to anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Her model has since been adapted to fit a broader set of situations where someone receives unwelcome news. The instinctive response is often to deny it, followed by feelings of anger, withdrawing to lick their wounds, and finally coming round to acceptance.
Direct download: Podcast_160.mp3
Category:PodCasts -- posted at: 12:32pm CDT

The food industry is more successful than it's ever been.  Food is cheap, accessible. And many of us are eating A LOT of it.  On this episode, Brian Wansink of the of the Food and Brand Lab of Cornell University joins Kurt and Steve.  

Brian is a leading expert in changing eating behavior – both on an individual level and on a mass scale – using principles of behavioral science. His research focuses on how ads, packaging, and personality traits influence the usage frequency and usage volume of healthy foods. His research on consumption volume has won national and international awards for its relevance to consumers. His findings have been widely featured on 20/20, BBC News, The Learning Channel, all news networks, and on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also  the author of Mindless Eating (2006) and Slim by Design (2014) as well as over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles. From 2007 until 2009 he was appointed by the White House as the USDA’s CNPP Executive Director in charge of the Dietary Guidelines for 2010 and the Food Guide Pyramid ( He is a former bad open-mic comic and rock sax player. He lives with his wife and three girls in Ithaca, New York, where he enjoys both French food and French fries.

Direct download: Podcast_159.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57pm CDT


When your prospect is worried or preoccupied with something occurring now or could happen in the future. The wrong type of worry can hinder persuasion. Worry is feeling anxious, uneasy, or concerned about something that may happen, or has already happened. Worry creates anxiety which creates tension—a fear that occupies our thoughts, which if encouraged will grow and continue to dominate our thoughts. I have heard worry referred to as "negative goal setting."

You can combat worry in your prospects by modifying their anxiety. Bring them back to reality by having them realize we can't change many things in the past or forecast the future. Stress that most of the things we worry about are those very things we can't change or control and which won't likely ever happen in the first place. Help your prospects replace their negative mental images with positive ones.  Worry can also be caused by indecision.  Get them to make a series of minor decisions and their worry will decrease.


Anger is a secondary emotion. A prospect's anger is usually an indicator that something else is askew and that he needs or wants attention.  When we are angry – we want attention or action now. You can assist in diminishing his anger by determining the key issue he is upset about. It is also often effective to ask for his help, opinions, or advice. This will usually diffuse his anger or even change his attitude and demeanor completely. In some circumstances, you may want to use anger to make a certain point or to evoke a certain reaction. However when someone is angry they are more likely to blame someone else. In their mind it is not their fault. When they are sad they will usually blame the situation.

When people become angry they tend to rely on intuition or an educated guess.  Anger triggers non analytical information processing.   Anger causes us to use mental shortcuts to decide if the argument is right.  An experiment was done that induced anger. The participants that were angry tended to discriminate between weak and strong persuasive arguments more than those in a neutral mood.  In other words, those that were angry tended to be more influenced by heuristic cues (intuition) than those in a sad or neutral mood.

Direct download: Podcast_158.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:13pm CDT

Did you know that money can buy happiness? A recent study published in “Psychology Today” shows just that. Kurt and Steve discuss the ins and outs of this study and how money certainly can buy happiness…up to a point.

Continuing off of recent episodes, Kurt and Steve cover how we can overcome objections before they ever occur in the first place. This concept is called “inoculation.” The term comes from the medical field, where patients are given a weak form of a virus so that their body can develop an immunity to it. This same concept happens on the psychological level. If we can introduce a weak form of the objection to our prospects, they will be better prepared for when the real one comes along at a later date.

For example, do most of your prospects end up looking for more bids from competitors? Or do they end up getting serious resistance from friends and family? Letting them know very subtly that this will happen beforehand helps them avoid the shock and disappointment that will later surface. They’ll think “hey, you know what? He told me that the competitors would say this, or that my family would think that.”

This even applies when raising children. Unfortunately we know that at some point kids will be exposed to and given the opportunity to take drugs. Pretending this won’t happen just increases the chances that they will be influenced by a drug dealer and not by you as a parent. Letting them know in advance “hey Jr, at some point somebody is going to offer you drugs. If you say know they’ll call you chicken, they’ll make fun of you, etc. But just say no no matter what and come talk to me about it. It’s okay.”

You can’t, nor should you, inoculate against everything. Just pick the two or three most common objections your prospects have and pre solve them with stories, examples, statistics, and testimonials!

Direct download: Podcast_156.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05pm CDT



Let’s explore the space between offer and acceptance – the space between “yes” and “no” is labels.


“It seems like…” “It sounds like…” “It looks like…”  (Followed by an effective pause.)



It’s critical to not “step” on your label by following it with a question or some sort of an explanation. You’ve got to let them sink in.


“It seems like there’s some flexibility in this package?”


“It sounds like there’s more here?”


“It seems like you have some ranges in mind?”


“It looks like you’ve used certain criteria to come up with this offer?”


Labels are a great way to gather more information and to test positions.  They do it in a way that doesn’t make people feel backed into a corner. They’re effective in place of questions where basically you’d normally be looking for just a “yes” or a “no” and they always get more information. They open up dialog in a really gentle, yet quietly firm way.


Salary negotiations are particularly important because as I’ve said before, people are testing you as both a co-worker and an ambassador. They really don’t want you to be a push-over and they don’t want you to be a jerk. Salary negotiations shouldn’t be limited to just salary. Salary pays your mortgage but terms build your career.


“It seems like there’s a bigger picture here for this position?”


“It looks like your company has a future vision I fit into.”


“It seems like this position fits a broader need within the company.”


“It looks like there’s some built in opportunities for professional development?”


“It looks like this position fits a critical need.”


These labels can also be expressed as statements or questions (upward inflection – question; downward inflection – statement).


Employers appreciate someone with insight who “gets it”. Labels are a great way to demonstrate competence and insight. Both of these are characteristics that either merit a higher offer now, or position you for one down the line.


Please remember, plan for your success with good terms within the overall package that build your career. Labels help you flesh that out and build the success of both your career and your employer!

Direct download: Podcast_157.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:07pm CDT

It is human nature to mirror and match, or to “synchronize” with, the people we connect with.28 We don’t even think about it. It happens so quickly and so subconsciously that without a replay, one is unlikely to even notice it.29 What if you were aware of it? Could it be used to help you be even more persuasive? Research says definitely yes. When you mirror your audience, you build rapport with them.

            Mirroring operates at a subconscious level and demonstrates that the parties are starting to synchronize and get into rapport. People are inclined to follow and obey those they perceive as similar to themselves. If they shift in their posture, you should eventually do so, too. If they cross their legs, you should cross your legs as well. If they smile, you smile, too. When you mirror them, they will subconsciously feel that you have much more in common with them than may actually be the case. Why is this so? He likes you because you are like him. He perceives you the same way he perceives himself. When using mirroring and matching, you want your audience to subconsciously say, “It feels like I have known you for years.” Mirroring speeds up the process of connecting and effectively communicating with anyone.

            Obviously, it is imperative that mirroring and matching come across as natural. Great persuaders know how to mirror or reflect their audience’s actions, not to imitate them. If people think you are imitating them, they may feel mocked and become offended. They will see you as phony, and they will no longer trust you. Instead of directly imitating, just mirror or match the overall tone and demeanor of your prospect. You can safely mirror things such as language, posture, gestures, and mood. The reality is that mirroring is the best predictor of rapport.30


You can develop rapport by mirroring your audience in the following areas:

  • Emotional state
  • Energy level
  • Language
  • Breathing rate
  • Voice patterns and inflections
  • Mood
Direct download: Podcast_155.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm CDT

If all my talents and powers were to be taken from me by some inscrutable Providence, and I had my choice of keeping but one, I would unhesitatingly ask to be allowed to keep the power of speaking, for through it I would quickly recover all the rest.                                                                            —Daniel Webster

Have you happened to notice the dramatic changes that have evolved in presentations, communication, and training over the last twenty years? The basic focus used to be on education. Now, the latest research is all about how to grab your audience’s attention and then maintain their interest. We can no longer focus simply on educating; we must now entertain. We must keep our audiences mentally engaged.

Great persuaders can maintain the attention of their audience. Research shows that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, but you do have to make sure your audience sticks with you, your words resonate with them, they pay attention, and they understand you. The moment you lose their attention, you can no longer persuade them. You could have a great Website, be a sharp dresser, publish a great brochure, or have any manner of impressive credentials. The reality is, however, that the number-one persuasion tool is you, and a big part of how you present yourself is through your communication. Long gone are the days of counting on the subject matter to speak compellingly for itself, compensating for your inadequacies as a presenter. Nowadays, you’ve got to get inside your audience’s minds, and you’ve got to get there fast. It can take only seconds before people’s minds start to wander. To combat this tendency, you have to educate, inspire, and entertain with passion, compassion, and purpose.

Great persuaders are great communicators. Well-known motivational speaker and best-selling author Jim Rohm said it best: “When I learned how to effectively persuade and communicate, my income went from six digits to seven digits.” Your communication skills are critical for your success, yet this is another set of overlooked skills that are not effectively taught in school. Communication includes phone skills, face-to-face interactions, group presentations, and even email.

Most persuaders feel, incorrectly, that they have above-average communication skills. Are yours “above average” too? Our research shows that 34 percent of persuaders feel they have mastered the ability to effectively communicate. However, by talking to your audience, we know that your presentation and communication mastery was rated at only 11 percent. Great persuaders work on their presentation skills on a continual basis. There is always something to fine-tune and improve.

The studies show that, on average, a persuader communicates six to eight features of his product or service to his audience, but the average person will only remember one, two, or three of them. In over 40 percent of cases, the person will remember one of the features incorrectly. In 30 percent of cases, the person remembers a feature that was never even mentioned by the persuader. (Ouch!) We also found that 93 percent of persuadees misunderstood some part of a persuader’s message. The worst part is that most of them did not ask a question or even try to seek clarification. Remember, a confused mind says no. A “confused mind,” has to think about it. A “confused mind,” will get back to you. A confused mind is hard to persuade and influence.

Direct download: Podcast_154.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25pm CDT

Capturing Attention Immediately

What can you do in the first thirty seconds of your encounter to capture your audience’s attention? Can you prove to them that you are worth listening to? Think about this: Every time you communicate with someone, they are paying with either time or money. Your audience is rooting for you; they want you to succeed. They don’t want their time or money wasted any more than you want to waste it. Then why is it getting wasted?

Sometimes when you’re approaching something new, figuring out what you should not do is just as important as figuring out what to do. Let’s first take a look at some communication “complaints.”


  • Speaking in a monotone.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Fidgeting and other annoying mannerisms.
  • Using vocal fillers (“uhm,” “uh,” etc.).
  • Lacking any emotion or conviction.
  • Sounding mechanical or rehearsed.
  • Rushing through the presentation, speaking too fast.
  • Talking down to the audience.
  • Not finding common ground.
  • Failing to help the audience see value in the presentation.
  • Pushing or pressuring the audience.
  • Overloading the audience with too much information.
  • Being disorganized, jumping from one point to the next without any flow.
  • Not checking environment beforehand to limit interruptions and distractions.
  • Exhibiting poor listening skills.
  • Saying the wrong things at the wrong moments.
  • Not adapting to the particular personality or personalities you’re working with.
  • Displaying nervousness and fear.
  • Jumping to conclusions.
  • Constantly interrupting.
  • Pushing a predetermined, one-sided solution.
  • Listening selectively.
  • Not being in tune with audience emotions.
  • Allowing personal emotions to get involved.   
  • Being knowledgeable in an arrogant way.

The good news is most of these things are easily remedied once they are pointed out. We just don’t realize how often we commit them. Great persuaders have found their presentation weaknesses. They record themselves as they present and talk on the phone. Recording yourself will let you step into your audience’s shoes and give you a true-to-life representation that’s easy to evaluate. Plus, there won’t be any second-guessing—the recording doesn’t lie. Sure, it can be a painful exercise, but you will gain invaluable insights that cannot be found in any other way. Remember what they say: “No pain, no gain.” Great persuaders will endure a little pain to maintain their high income.

Direct download: Podcast_153.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm CDT

After discussing a few recent business trips, and of course, the food they ate on those trips, Kurt and Steve discuss a classic blunder: overuse of fear.  Fear is a useful tactic when persuading others.  It is very short term, however.  Kurt and Steve review some techniques to use fear effectively. 

Steve then interviews Kim Ades of Frame of Mind Coaching.  Kim's company is designed specifically to meet the needs of ambitious, highly driven, and successful individuals who want to transform their lives to achieve their biggest goals. 

During this interview, Steve asks Kim about how using a coach can help you see pitfalls that you were never even aware of.  Oftentimes, enhancing productivity involves busy people understanding what it is they really want in the first place and challenging assumptions that they thought were true.  You'll love this interview!


Direct download: Podcast_152.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm CDT

You can use conversational skills as a tool with which to build new connections, while avoiding awkward pauses and uncomfortable conversations. After all, making a good first impression is all about making others feel good when spending time with each of you. Great conversationalists are made, not born.

The following tips will help you make a positive impression every time:

  • Don’t rush through conversations. Take your time, and be sure to remember names and use them frequently during conversations.
  • Show an interest in every person you meet. By showing an interest you are creating a favorable impression of yourself. People, even shy ones, like to talk about themselves, so let them.
  • Be prepared. Before entering an event, take a couple minutes and think of at least three conversation topics. Remind yourself of what you may already know about fellow attendees. Their hobbies, activities or interests. If you happen to encounter an uncomfortable silence, these conversation points will always come in handy.
  • Always maintain eye contact. Eye contact is an easy way to make others feel comfortable, important, and special.
  • Act confident through your body language, even if you are not. Nervous body language {twisting your hair, slouching shoulders, constant hand rubbing} can make others uncomfortable and anxious. Try to be aware of your body language when interacting with others.
  • Be a careful listener. By listening intently to what others are saying, you are not only making them feel important, but you can gather cues you need to keep the conversation going and bridge to new topics.
  • Don’t interrogate a conversational partner. Questions like: “Where are you from?” “Are you married?” “What do you do for a living?” can stop a conversation before it ever really starts.
  • Be respectful of the opinions of others. Not everyone agrees on things, and friendly disagreements can be a gateway to a great conversation. Offer your opinion of your favorite football team, the state of public education today, or the future of the space program. Be sure to follow up with “What do you think?”, or “Tell me your opinion.”
  • Have exit lines prepared. You will probably want to mingle with several people around the room.
Direct download: Podcast_151.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:51am CDT


Have you ever felt like you put in a bunch of work only to pave the way for your competitor?  Many persuaders inadvertently do this only to find out too late that they lost the deal.  The key to avoiding this is generating genuine scarcity.  To create genuine scarcity, make sure you have as much of the following in place:

1.  Deadlines. Give your prospects a deadline or a point of no return. We all operate on deadlines in our personal lives and in our businesses. Deadlines are what cause us to take action. If there is no immediate reason to take action now, we won't. Many people don't pay their bills until they have to. Judging by the lines outside the post office at midnight on April 15th, most of us don't pay our taxes until the last possible second. No deadline, no consequence means no action.
2.  Limited Space, Numbers, or Access. If your prospect feels like they are competing for a limited resource, they will be much more motivated to take action. When people fear they're going to miss out on a great deal, they feel an urgency to act. Think of shoppers at closeout sales. They've got to speed over there and check things out before all the stuff is "picked over." Otherwise, with the store's limited supplies, they'll miss the deal forever! This limit can also include access to information. Our response to banned or secret information is a greater desire to receive that information and a more favorable outlook toward it than we had before the ban was set in place.
3.  Potential Loss. Prospects must recognize that they might be limited in their actions if they don't take advantage of your offer. People will always overvalue the thing you are restricting. Create a state of emotion in which your prospect will fear the loss or negative consequence for not taking action.  This is an overwhelming feeling they won't be able to ignore. Motivated by restriction, your prospect becomes an emotionally motivated buyer. They will not be denied. The more you deny them, the more energy you give to your cause. You have denied their right to something, so they'll do anything to have it.
4.  Restrict Freedom. We want what we can't have. When we are told a product is or will soon be unavailable, we want it even more. Our desire goes up and so does the urgency to act. Create a scenario where you tell your prospect that the offer is only good for so long. Tell them they have to act now to take advantage of the opportunity or they will lose out. This technique works so well because we have all walked away from offers like this before, and they weren’t there when we returned. Walk through clearance stores and you will see "Sold" signs on the furniture. These signs create urgency because somebody else has found a deal, and so should we.
Direct download: Podcast_150.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm CDT

What is your message? What do you have to share that will make a difference in people’s lives? What is your main objective, the key thing you hope to accomplish? You’ve got to understand the big picture. Then, with the big picture in mind, you have to get more specific. Do you have a clear vision of how your product, service, or idea will help your audience? You’ve got to know your product inside and out, its pros and cons and how it stacks up against the competition. Use the following list, distilled from the work of great persuaders, to give some direction to your process of preparing and refining your message:


•           What do I want to accomplish?

•           If I had to boil my message down to three main points, what would they be?

•           How can I demonstrate my expertise?

•           How can I increase my trustworthiness with this audience?

•           What are the emotional reasons that will prompt my audience to respond?

•           What are the logical reasons that will prompt my audience to respond?

•           What is my “call to action”?

•           What are some alternatives to my initial proposal?

•           Does my plan have any potential pitfalls?

•           What are the top five doubts or objections I will encounter? How will I respond?

•           What information should I gather about my audience? My competition?

Direct download: Podcast_149.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am CDT

When Steve asked Kurt how he was doing before the show started, he did not expect that Kurt would tell him that he just got done dealing with a bear in his backyard.  Well, he didn't deal with it...animal control did.  But we're proud that Kurt didn't scream like a little girl when it happened!  Here's a picture:

Kurt and Steve also give some sound advice that was once also given by the leading salesman of a Northeastern mid-size paper supply company.  The advice is timeless and will echo through the ages. 

After an unusual amount of banter, Kurt and Steve decide to get into something that matters: negotiation.  Clients and customers expect to play the game.  So what do you do if there is no game to play? 

It is a natural tendency for us to take in information and interpret it in a manner that will best serve our personal wants and needs. We do not always do this consciously. What’s more, the converse is also true in that we often pass over information that is critical to understanding the other side, particularly when the other side is in conflict with us. We naturally enhance our own position while vilifying the opposition’s. The result is that perceptions and beliefs are based on information that is highly inaccurate and exaggerated. Especially striking examples of this oppositional bias are seen in the Israelis and Palestinians or the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

A famous Harvard study involved giving some executives insider information about one company’s plans to acquire another. The executives were randomly assigned to role play the part of either the buyer or the seller. Unbeknownst to them, the information given to each side was identical. After analyzing the information, the executives each had to give their private assessment of the company’s fair value (as opposed to how they might present that value in negotiations). Not surprisingly, the executives playing the part of “seller” gave values that were more than double those offered by those who were playing the role of “buyers.” Interestingly, the results were driven by what would best serve the party in her/his randomly assigned role.

It is to be expected that each negotiating side will bring its own biases to the table. Simply knowing that these biases exist will help those involved in negotiation to not be caught off guard. Put yourself in the other side’s shoes and think of what their most powerful case could be. This empathizing tactic always sheds light on new thoughts and ideas that you might not have thought of otherwise. Lastly, it will never hurt you to seek the input of an uninvolved third party.

Direct download: Podcast_148.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am CDT

Let’s talk a bit about deception.  I don’t need to say it here, but I will.  Deception is wrong and does trigger incongruence.  On the flip the side the challenge you could have is that when you get nervous or uneasy you might be showing signs or deception.  What I am saying here is that even if you are telling the truth and think you are congruent, you might be sending signals of incongruency and deception.  The audience can’t always identify exactly what is making them distrustful, but they feel that way and that is all that matters to them.  What happens is we all have micro expressions that happen so rapidly the conscious mind can’t see them, but the subconscious can sense them.  These are quick mannerisms in the face that reveal deception or nervousness.  Another one that causes an increase in their deception radar is a disconnect between your emotion and your reaction.  For example if you make an angry face, then hit the table with your hand 5 seconds later, that would be an obvious red flag you are not feeling that emotion.  Careful that you are congruent with every aspect of your message.

Everyone can pick up on your nonverbal behavior.  We sense something is not quite right.  Others will sense when there is any form of incongruence or deception radiating from you.  Be aware that many of your nonverbal behaviors that you are currently doing will trigger incongruence.  It might be a natural part of your behavior, but it could look like deception.  Things that could trigger deception:


  • Forced eye contact
  • Shifting back in chair
  • Rubbing or touching lips
  • Scratching your face
  • Dilated pupils
  • Yawning
  • Pitch of voice rising   
Direct download: Podcast_147.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:11am CDT

It's the 4th of July, so Kurt and Steve did what they do best: took their boats out and bbq'd!  Back by popular demand, however, is the episode they did on Charismatic Power.  Check it out!

Direct download: Podcast_146.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm CDT


  1. "He kept his promises." Promises made during the persuasion process are fulfilled. Persuaders are honest and realistic in what they promise—they don't build false hopes or expectations. They "underpromise and overdeliver"—not the other way around!
  2. "She's really dependable." Successful persuaders proactively give their audience the attention they deserve, doing everything in their power to resolve any problem or concern. They are reliable; nothing stops them from getting the job done or from getting a call back.
  3. "He's clearly very well trained." Successful persuaders know the ins and outs of their product, including its strengths and weaknesses and how it stacks up against the competition. A great persuader is always an expert on the product, service, or idea he is handling.
  4. "She was very sincere, very genuine." Real persuaders don't act like they're just out for a hefty commission. They are sincerely interested in their audience and have their best interests in mind.
  5. "I consider him a friend." Taking the time to build rapport pays off. Personable, likable, caring, and friendly persuaders make the grade. They know that people buy from people they like.
  6. "She'd never argue with us." A good persuader is not so bent on making a point that she argues with her prospects. She is not consumed with her own need to be right; she knows she will not persuade by demonstrating that her audience is wrong, misinformed, or uneducated.
  7. "He provides solutions that work!" Helping an audience visualize their success brings the persuader and audience together to illustrate how the product or service will get them there.
  8. "She always takes 100 percent responsibility." No matter what happens, a great persuader accepts full responsibility for results. When challenges present themselves, she deals with those challenges rather than making excuses.
  9. "I can tell he is really behind his products." Successful persuaders love what they offer. They know they cannot get someone to believe in their product more than they do.
  10. "She is honest." It is always clear where a great persuader stands. She is always honest with herself and with others. From this position of strength, she is the audience's friend, advisor, and advocate.
  11. "He's really entertaining—his visits are always a treat." Winning persuaders are fun and enjoyable to talk to. They help others feel good about themselves and put smiles on people's faces. They are full of charisma, love to be around people, and are the ones to bring light to a room. Their presentations are lively, engaging, and informative.
Direct download: Podcast_145.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50pm CDT

You know we love talking about "Negotiaton's Dirty Deeds."  A recent article by the Harvard Business Review gave some great pointers on deflecting some of the more common negotiation tactics.  

One of the best ways to insure a smooth transaction is through managing your clients expectations correctly.  Persuaders are most effective when they're persuading, not when they're stuck resolving client questions and concerns that could have been avoided in the first place.  On this episode, Kurt and Steve discuss this very issue.  

Expectations as Assumptions: Expect with Confidence

Consider the profound impact this can have in your own life. Are the assumptions and expectations you have about yourself (or others) liberating or victimizing? There are countless examples of "self-fulfilling prophecies," or the Law of Expectations at work in everyday life. Ever notice how people who think they're going to be fired suddenly experience a drop in the quality and enthusiasm for their work? Then what happens? They get fired! Their belief causes them to act a certain way, and those expectations then work to bring about the very thing that at first was only a figment of their imagination.

There was a study done on a military base that was used to train combat soldiers.  They created two groups of soldiers of equal aptitude and were randomly selected into three groups.  Now these 3 groups were assigned 3 different types of instructor’s.  One was high expectancy, regular expectancy and unspecified expectancy.  We already know the high expectancy group that was expected to perform better, scored significantly higher on achievement tests, felt more positive and had better attitudes.

In another study, second graders listened to statements from their teachers before taking a math test. There were three types of statements: expectation, persuasion, or reinforcement. The expectation statements went something like, "You know your math really well!" or "You work really hard at your math." Persuasion statements involved sentences like, "You should be good at math." or "You should be getting better math grades." Finally, for the reinforcement statements, teachers said things like, "I'm really happy about your progress" or "This is excellent work!" Now, what do you think the results were? The scores were the highest in the "expectation" category! Why were the expectation statements the most effective? They created personal assumptions within each student. Those assumptions conditioned the actual external results.

This can also be called implicit priming.  Let’s look at a few studies and how to apply this.  A study was done where they asked participants to complete a scrambled sentenced in a puzzle.  They were shown various groups of words to create these sentences.  Some of the participants were shown rude type words (obnoxious, aggressively, annoyingly, disturb, interrupt, impolitely).

The other group was shown polite type words (respect, courteous, considerate, patiently, polite, and behaved).  When they went to the next room to complete a second task they would find the experimenter with another student trying to explain a task that the student could not comprehend. The group that was primed with the rude words waited an average of 5.5 minutes and the group primed with the polite words waited an average of 9.3 minutes.

Here is an interesting study. Watch how these numbers prime your brain. Participants were given this set of numbers and were told to estimate (not calculate) the answer in 5 seconds.

8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1

Than they would find another person to estimate the following numbers:

1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 x 7 x 8

Now logically we know the estimation should be the same for both (40,320). Remember one group was primed with the 8 in front of the problem and the other group was primed with the 1 in front of the problem. The average estimation for the first problem was 2250. The average estimation for the second problem was 512.  Isn’t it interesting how no one even came close to the right answer.

Direct download: Podcast_144.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02pm CDT

Francis Bacon once said, "Knowledge itself is power." Knowledge power is based on proficiency in a certain subject, procedure, or situation. Remember that you are the expert. People can be persuaded if they think you have more knowledge or expertise than they do. For example, lawyers, mechanics, and doctors possess knowledge power. People rely on these professionals' opinions, believe what they say, and trust implicitly what they do because of the extent of schooling or experience they have. We accept the arguments and data of people we assume have knowledge, whether it's real or perceived. In addition to coming from formal education and training, knowledge power also comes from life experience and innate intelligence and aptitude.

Great persuaders use three different types of knowledge power: informational, resource, and expertise:

1.  Informational power. When you know something others need to know, you hold power over them. Informational power is exercised when someone needs, wants, or desires the information, facts, or data you possess. As Aristotle Onassis said, "The secret of business is to know something that no one else knows."

2.  Resource power. If you have access to key persons, commodities, goods, or services that are valued by others, you hold some power over them. As the saying goes, "It's not what you know; it's who you know." Are you perceived as having the right affiliations? What connections do you have?

3.  Expertise power. When you have special skill sets, expertise, or knowledge that others believe is relevant to their needs and which exceeds their own, they will do what you say or listen to your opinions. Why are you the expert?


Direct download: Podcast_143.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43pm CDT

On this episode, Kurt and Steve interview Wes Schaeffer, the Sales Whisperer!

There are ways to start implementing empathy in your daily contacts and conversations.  It does take some practice and evaluation.  After every encounter ask yourself what do you do well and what can you do better next time.  Try these steps to increase your empathy.

•           Mentally prepare yourself to hear the message

•           Listen with your ears, heart and mind

•           Read their body language

•           Evaluate the true message sent          

•           Acknowledge the feelings and emotions being displayed

•           Practice taking on their perspective

•           Respond with empathy


Sure empathy takes some effort, but it is worth every moment until you perfect this skill.  You will be more trustworthy, empathetic, charismatic and it also increases productivity and inspires commitment.  Our rushed modern life does not cultivate the mindset or skills of empathy.  You need to look for opportunities to develop empathy.  Just start off by asking yourself two questions during your conversations.    “How would I feel if I were that person?” and “Why are they feeling that way?”  Practice that today.  Find one person you can demonstrate empathy and show them you truly care.

Direct download: Podcast_141.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm CDT

Happy Memorial Day!, 

If you're not in the US, we hope you had a great Monday, May 30!

If you have a tough negotiation coming up where your opponent will play the empathy card, we have good news. Acetaminophen can dull your sense of empathy! So next time you need to negotiate, pop some tylenol and turn yourself into a cold blooded shark of a negotiator.  

How Moods Can Affect Persuasion

Moods affect our thinking, our judgment, and our willingness to say yes. When the person you are trying to persuade is in a good mood, they are more likely to accept your offer. The opposite is also true. If they're not in a good mood, chances are much higher they won't bite. This is a huge advantage to you when it comes to persuasion. Great persuaders create the right mood. Great persuaders actually put people in a happy state. When we are feeling happy, we tend to think happy thoughts and to retrieve happy ideas and experiences from memory. Conversely, when we are in a negative mood, we tend to think unhappy thoughts and to retrieve negative information from memory.

If you can influence the mood, you minimize the likelihood of objections and resistance. How do you influence mood? The most important thing is to make sure you are in a good mood yourself. Even if your audience is in a good mood initially, a bad mood on your part will quickly dampen their spirits (even if you are trying to hide it). Then, your chances at successful persuasion decrease significantly.

One particular study demonstrated just how much the moods and attitudes of those around us influence our responses. Three individuals sat down to a meal together—two who were in on the study, and one who was unknowingly being evaluated on whether or not his companions altered his opinion of the food. The two conducted themselves in a very disagreeable manner and were unpleasant and contentious. On another occasion, this same individual was brought back to the same place and offered the same food. The only difference was he was given different table companions. This time around, the company was fun, interesting, and enjoyable. How do you think his evaluations of the food differed? You guessed it—the first evaluation was negative, while the second was positive, even though the food itself was identical from the one situation to the next.

There is evidence across the board that mood is a major factor in persuasion. Even simple mood-boosting methods like eating a good snack or listening to pleasant music have been shown to make people easier to persuade.  An interviewer who is in a good mood tends to assign higher ratings to job applicants.  Happy moods also increase creativity, which is critical for great persuaders.  Consumers who are in a good mood will be more aware of positive qualities in products or experiences they encounter.  And as any kid has already figured out, parents who are in good moods tend to be more lenient.

Just to reinforce the point, I will highlight one other study. The study was conducted in a hotel room that did not have a window or any other means by which the occupant could know what the weather was like. When the guest ordered room service, the server would describe the weather as cold and rainy, cold and sunny, warm and rainy, or warm and sunny. How do you think these pleasant or not-so-pleasant reports affected the amount of the server's tip? Interestingly, it did not seem to make much difference whether it was warm or cold, but when the weather was reported to be sunny, tips increased by 26.65 percent!

Direct download: Podcast_142.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm CDT

Did you know that if you think about what you ate earlier in the day, you're proven to snack less?  Kurt and Steve discuss a recent article by Psychology Today that studies this phenomenon.  

Size of packaging, color, position...all of these things subconsciously influence what your prospect buys...and how much they buy.  On this episode, Kurt and Steve discuss some recent books and studies that delve into how much we eat...and why you should care as a persuader. 

Atmosphere can also include the tension in the air. Is there a rush, or are customers relaxed? What type of climate are you trying to create? Do you want a quick, fast decision, or do you want your customers to feel comfortable enough to stay for a while? An interesting study on what happens when you create an atmosphere of being rushed can be seen in the following example:

Princeton University psychologists John Darley and Daniel Batson wanted to see how students would respond if they were in a situation replicating the biblical account of the Good Samaritan.  As the story goes, a band of thieves beat, robbed, and left a man traveling alone by the roadside to die. A devout priest and a reputable Levite passed by. Neither of the men stopped to help the dying man. Finally, a Samaritan, stopped to help him. The Samaritan bound up his wounds, took him to an inn, and even paid the innkeeper to care for him until he returned.

Darley and Batson asked seminarians on a one-on-one basis to prepare and present a short speech on an assigned biblical topic. The test was set up so that on their way to the location where they would deliver their speech, each student would cross a man slumped over, coughing and groaning. Which students would actually stop and help? Before preparing their speeches, the students filled out a questionnaire asking why they had chosen to study theology. Then a variety of speech topics were assigned, including the story of the Good Samaritan. As the students were leaving to deliver their speeches, some were told, "You'd better hurry. They were expecting you about three minutes ago." Others were told, "They won't be ready for a few minutes, but you may as well head over now."

Now, most people would assume that seminarians stating on their questionnaires that they had chosen to study theology so they could help people and who were then assigned to speak on the Good Samaritan would be the ones most likely to stop and help the ailing man on their way. Interestingly, neither of those two factors seemed to make much of a difference. In fact, Darley and Batson stated, "Indeed, on several occasions, a seminary student going to give his talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan literally stepped over the victim as he hurried on his way." The element that seemed to be most influential was whether or not the student was rushed. Of the students who were told they were already a little late, only 10 percent stopped to help. Of the students who were told they had a little bit more time, 63 percent stopped to help.

We can learn from this example that we can create atmospheres where people are so involved that they ignore other factors they normally would not ignore.  On the flip side, if participants are too relaxed than they become difficult to persuade.

Direct download: Podcast_140.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm CDT

Kurt and Steve begin this episode by discussing how in anything we do, we default down to the level of our training.  Whether it's a sport, self defense, language, or persuasion...the mind and body default to what their trained to do when they are stressed.  Bottom line is when you need to persuade it's too late to learn!  Go to for some awesome ways you can train to be a better persuader!

This isn't a surprise to you, but walking through the first class cabin when boarding makes coach passengers more prone to "air rage."  Kurt and Steve discuss this article and how airlines are violating the law of expectations.  Airlines are such an easy one to criticize.  Almost as easy as politicians.  

How do you use mental programming effectively? The first step is to channel your emotional energies into specific desires. You're unlikely to get very far if you don't even have the desire in the first place. Embracing what's closest to your heart will unleash your greatest energy, imagination, and potential. And just like striking oil, you will experience a surge of greater productivity than you have ever had in your life. This burning desire will allow you to transform mediocre abilities into amazing successes…above and beyond what you ever thought possible.

After you have a specific desire in mind, let it simmer in your subconscious for awhile. Many great persuaders work on "programming" right before they fall asleep. As the conscious mind winds down, the subconscious mind kicks into gear. You can take advantage of this transition to turn your thoughts and desires over to the subconscious mind to work on. As you drift off to sleep, try to summon the feelings and emotions that will accompany your success. Vividly imagine the events, the people, and the places that will get you where you want to go.

The subconscious mind cannot discern that which is real from that which is vividly imagined. It will accept the positive or negative suggestions that it is given, particularly if they are accompanied by and reinforced with relevant feelings, emotions, and vivid details.  You can powerfully program your mind into believing certain things have actually happened. When your mind pre-accepts your victories as already won, you're halfway there. You'll find that promptings, instinct, and intuitions begin to emerge. You'll find yourself thinking, talking, and behaving in a more positive and productive way. In short, all of your energies will be aimed at your goals.

Direct download: Podcast_139_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:52am CDT

An interesting study was conducted with dentists, whereby an ad was put in the newspaper asking for people to participate in a painful dental procedure.11 The first amazing thing about it was that people actually showed up. During the first part of the study, the dentists were told that they would only pretend to use a painkiller on their patients. A placebo would actually be given. The dentists were instructed to do everything just as they would normally do during the procedure. Most of the patients in this half of the study felt pain during their dental procedure. During the second half of the study, the dentists were told to perform the exact same procedure, except this time they would be administering a real painkiller to their patients. When told that the dentist was going to numb their mouths, most of these patients did not feel pain. The reality was, however, that unbeknownst to dentist or patient, a placebo had again been administered again in place of the painkiller. Even though in the dentists’ minds they had performed the exact same procedure with both sets of patients, the first group of patients picked up on incongruities in the dentists’ behavior. Consciously or subconsciously, they knew that something was wrong and thus felt pain.

Are you congruent with your history, your last interaction, and your reputation? Does your nonverbal behavior match your actions? Are your emotions congruent with your message? What are your audience’s expectations of you and your message? When your past history and your message don’t match, flags of incongruity will wave in your audience’s face. Suspicion will be roused and your audience will start to look for things that are wrong with you or your message. This inconsistency will decrease your ability to gain influence and trust. That’s because humans are natural lie detectors. When we attempt to fake congruence, we must also spend our time and energy trying to fake our message.

Direct download: Podcast_138.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:05pm CDT

How do you overcome this lack of credibility? Here are several ideas great persuaders use to boost their credibility:  

            1. In this very skeptical world your prospect is looking for a weakness. If you don’t give them some type of weakness (personal or product), they will assign a weakness for you. Great persuaders increase credibility by revealing an apparent weakness and turning that perceived weakness into a desired benefit.

            2. Credibility is enhanced by every minute of preparation. Great persuaders never “wing it” or leave anything to chance. If your audience ever feels you should know the answer but don’t, you have lost credibility. Plan, rehearse and polish your presentation. Always research your audience.

            3. Your audience is going to judge you in the first thirty seconds. How do you really look? How are you really coming across? Can you maintain eye contact? Is your appearance professional, polished, and what your audience expects.

            4. When you enter a low-credibility situation or when you audience does not know you, borrow the credibility from someone else. Who can endorse or recommend you? Who can introduce you that already has credibility with your audience? Learn to always ask and get testimonials from happy current clients.

            5. One of the quickest ways to lose your credibility is to badmouth the competition. You don’t have to resort to pulling down others to enhance your own product or service. If you can’t persuade based on the quality of your product or service, it is time to change careers. If the consumer needs to be legitimately warned about the competition, provide ways for them to find out for themselves.

            6. Pepper your presentation with credible facts, figures, statistics, or studies to reinforce your message. Never assume your audience thinks you are credible without using outside resources. Always remember to cite your sources.  Your audience will always believe someone else before they will start to believe you.

            7. Find ways to reveal your qualifications without coming across as a braggart. You need to reveal (or display) your expertise, qualifications, education, and experience so you will come across as the expert. The moment your audience accepts you as the expert, you have their undivided attention. Reveal to your audience why you are the expert and why you have earned the right to persuade about your product, service or idea.

Direct download: Podcast_137.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48pm CDT

One of the key ways to keep your competency on track is to be a lifetime learner. We consider others to be competent when we see them continually learning and advancing their training and education. I can remember going to buy computer products and discovering that I knew more about the product than the sales reps did (and I didn’t know much). In an attempt to cover up their lack of knowledge, these ill-informed salespeople tried to bluff their way through my questions. If they had kept themselves educated about the product, the field, and the industry, then they would not have lost my trust in them as competent professionals—and they would not have lost a customer. Learn to become the best in your field. Demonstrate you know your area of expertise. You should know more about your subject than 99 percent of the population.


The following are some specific ways you can gain and strengthen your competence, both actual and perceived:


  • Degree(s)
  • Professional standing
  • Affiliations with respected organizations
  • Publications
  • Referrals
  • Endorsements
  • Reputation
  • External surroundings
  • Definite opinions
  • Testimonials
  • Passion
Direct download: Podcast_136.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42am CDT

After briefly mentioning it on last week's episode, Kurt and Steve quickly learned that most have a lot of "feelings about" the urban phenomena, RBF (otherwise known as Resting Bitch Face).  So they dived in a little more and wouldn't you know it...there's an actual website that will tell you if you have it!  All we ask is that if you do, you send us your picture to  We want to see what RBF looks like!

Ingratiation: Make Others Feel Important

Ingratiation is gaining favor by deliberate effort. Ingratiation techniques can include compliments, flattery, and agreeableness. Ingratiation can also involve a special recognition of someone such as, "We don't usually do this, but in your case I'm going to make an exception," or "I am personally going to take care of this matter and see that you get what you want." Many people consider ingratiation sucking up or brown-nosing, but it is an effective technique for making others more persuadable. The reason this strategy works is because The Law of Esteem increases likability and promotes an increase in their self-esteem

Research has demonstrated these conclusions about using ingratiation. In one study, "ingratiators" were perceived as more competent, motivated, and qualified for leadership positions by their supervisors.  In another study, subordinates who used ingratiation developed an increased job satisfaction for themselves, their coworkers, and their supervisor.  In yet another study, ingratiators enjoyed a 5 percent edge over noningratiators in earning more favorable job evaluations.  Ingratiation works even when it is perceived as a deliberate effort to win someone over. Our esteem is so starved that we accept any flattery or praise we can get. 

Interesting Ingratiation Facts

•           It is better to use one great effective ingratiation method, than lots of smaller ones or in other words, less is more.


•           Ingratiators will be judged more positively using opinion or compliments conformity by the prospect than by a bystander.


•           Ingratiation will always work better when we are using downward influence (coworker, employee, you are their manager)


•           When we are attempting upward influence. (boss, CEO, power player)  Using apology, self- deprecation are more successful when you are persuading up or there is a large difference in status.  Using favors or compliments have little effect.


•           When ingratiating someone and they know you have an ulterior motive and it is transparent it will likely fail and decrease their liking towards you.

Direct download: Podcast_135.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02pm CDT

The worst thing for a persuader is that your audience members probably won’t ever confront you about your dishonesty or deception. They are not going to tell you that they think you are lying. They’ll just never work with you again and they’ll then tell all their family and friends about the bad experience they had with you behind your back.


Even if you’re an honest person of admirable character, it is human nature for people to cast sweeping judgments and formulate opinions without all the facts.  So, if you want genuine trust and lasting persuasion, you must avoid even the slightest appearance of anything that might be considered dishonest.  If you never place yourself in a situation where one might be misled about you or your integrity, then your good, hard-earned reputation will never be compromised.  Don’t embellish the story to make it sound better; don’t omit certain information to cover your own skin.      


What are some nonverbal behaviors that will trigger incongruence and a sense of deception?


Forced eye contact

Shifting back in chair

Rubbing lips

Scratching your face

Dilated pupils


Pitch of voice rising

Direct download: Podcast_134.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:34am CDT

self-perception bias

Ever wonder why others can’t smell their own stink? (perfume or body order)  We are good at judging others and finding out what is wrong with them, but that analysis does not seem to work on ourselves.  The same is true for our skills.  We have to have the ability to honestly access ourselves – both our strengths and weaknesses.  Then find the skills and the discipline to improve our faults.  We always will feel we must gloss over our weaknesses to make things seem better than they actually are. We also lie to ourselves about our incomes, our debt, and our true weight.  When you ask husbands and wives individually about what percent of the housework they each do – the numbers never add up.  Most people will rate their people skills as above average.  We all know that is not true.  If you want to see human blindness and bias in action, all you have to do is go to a sporting event as a neutral party and listen to the bias and comments of each opposing side.


The Research

To hit this point home we need to discover our own weaknesses and be honest with our own personal reality.  Let’s take a look at some of the studies on self perception bias.  To enhance your success and your influence, you need to know exactly what skills you have mastered and which ones you need work on.  Isn’t it amazing how we tend to overestimate everything from grades and physical appearance to the possibility of divorce.   If you were in sales and you were asked to rate your ability to connect with people or your product knowledge, you would be 90 percent likely to rate yourself above average on these skills, even though mathematically the validity of your assertion should be around 50 percent.     You know all those managers you have met over the years?  Over 90 percent of them will rate themselves better than the average manager.   Did you know 80% of individuals may perceive themselves as being brighter, better drivers and more able entrepreneurs than their average peers.   One study even found that most people believe they are more ___________ than the average person.  

•           Athletic

•           Intelligent

•           Organized

•           Ethical

•           Logical

•           Interesting

•           Fair-minded

•           Attractive 


The Solution

It is all about true self-assessment.  When I teach influence or self mastery seminars I ask my students to list the top ten reasons for their lack of success.  They find plenty of reasons why it is not their fault for their inability to achieve their goals, but they rarely take ownership of their weaknesses or admit that it could be them.  You can always ask yourself - What traits do I need to develop to take my life, my career and my income to the next level?  My research of human nature shows that there are five critical areas that most people assess to have much higher skills than they actually have.  When other people assess themselves of these skills, their scores are much lower.  These are the five areas.


1.         People skills/empathy

2.         Persistence/determination

3.         Communication/listening

4.         Personal mastery

5.         Persuasion skills

Direct download: Podcast_133.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm CDT

Keeping Attention:   A Bored Mind Says NO!

It is common sense to realize you have to keep your audience's attention in order to persuade them.  If you lose them, you lose your chance for them to understand and accept your proposal.  We know from our own personal experience that we tend to let our minds naturally drift when we are listening to other people.  We cannot focus on one item for too long unless we are forced to do so.  Master Persuaders can make a person want to pay attention and stay focused.  You may lose your audience’s attention from time to time but it is your job to bring them back to full attention status.  You can help your prospect lose track of time.

Some estimate that the average adult attention span is about 18 minutes.  What’s more, studies indicate that attention spans have been decreasing steadily over the past decade.  After our attention span is lapsed, we fall into boredom and no longer listen.  You have to be creative to maintain the mental involvement that is required to persuade a mind.  One way to keep the mind harnessed is to give your audience enough time to process what you are telling them. You can tell by the look in their eyes if you have lost them.  I'm sure you have taken seminars or college classes where you have been completely lost.  When the professor asks questions, you don't raise your hand because you have no idea what is going on.  Give your listeners enough time to absorb what you're saying, but obviously not so long that they become totally bored and detached.


Some more ideas on ways to help people choose to pay attention:


•Use questions                                   

•Make startling statements

•Use quotes                            

•Change mediums

•Speak in the first person       

•Present new and innovative ideas


You can see that these techniques are used to grab back the attention of your listeners when their minds have started wandering.  Employed properly they will bring your audience’s attention back to you.

Direct download: Podcast_132_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am CDT

The old-school approach to persuasion put a lot of the emphasis on the final outcome: clinching the deal, closing the sale. Back then, it was a lot more about getting the sale than having a true and lasting relationship with an actual person. The problem with being so closing-oriented is that a persuasive encounter is not a static, one-sided arrangement. The “persuadee” is not some brainless lump who will unquestioningly accept everything you say. They are living, breathing human beings, which means the exchange is two-sided. You have to establish rapport very early on, making a good and lasting first impression, and you have to keep the rapport going.

Many persuaders don’t know how to maintain rapport throughout the entire exchange. They’re good at breaking the ice and helping their audience feel comfortable, but when it comes to “getting down to business,” all of a sudden their demeanor changes. Their light-hearted, jovial manner may turn into intense seriousness as they launch into “the bottom line.” When this transformation takes place, what is the audience supposed to think? The person they were joking around with for the past ten minutes has now completely morphed into someone else. Which one is the real person? 

 Great persuaders don’t focus on their persuasive encounters in terms of initial “kick-off” and final “closing.” They maintain rapport and connection by keeping the exchange emotionally and logically on the same plane. Think of your audience as a friend you will see and do business with again. Do not allow yourself any abrupt mood changes; be flexible and willing to adjust to the many moods and emotions your audience may go through.

Direct download: Podcast_131.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40am CDT

This week's article is sure to offend some listeners.  If you're a short man or an overweight woman, the British Medical Journal has bad news for you.  Hey were just the messenger!  Check out their recent study linking hight, body mass, and socio-economic status.  

"Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get."  -Warren Buffett

The Law of Contrast explains how we are affected when we are introduced to two different alternatives or options in succession. We know that contrasting two alternatives can distort or amplify our perceptions of price, time or effort. Generally, if the second item is quite different from the first, we will tend to see them even more differently than they actually are. As a Power Persuader, you can use this contrast to navigate your audience toward the object of your persuasion.

The use of contrast is based on our perception of items or events that happen one right after the other. If you've had a rotten day because you found out you're losing your job and you come home to a new scratch on your car, you will have a different reaction than if you were having a great day because you're getting a promotion and then came home to the scratch on your car. It's the same scratch, but there are very different perceptions and reactions to it.  Contrast is used for negotiations.  When we offer a really low or high bid or when we ask for $200 and only expect $50. This is contrast. What if you thought it was a 60 minute meeting and then it only took 30 minutes.  What if that 15 minute meeting lasted 30 minutes?

This is all about human perception. The human mind has to find a benchmark or comparison to make judgments, especially when we are talking about unfamiliar situations or new products. People need to make comparisons with their past experience and knowledge. The brain will always attempt to contrast your product or service. Is it the best or worst, cheapest or most expensive? Is your product the safe or risky choice or is it familiar or strange? By presenting your prospects with contrast, you are creating those comparisons for them. The mind can't process everything at once and so it develops shortcuts to help make decisions. Instead of making a completely internal judgment, we look for boundaries, patterns, and polar opposites. We want to know the difference between our options, so we naturally contrast the two items. We mentally create a value or price in our mind from highest to lowest. Do you want your prospects to compare your product or service to a second-hand used car or to a Rolls Royce? You get to decide where you want them to start their benchmark.  

Adjusting Value Examples  

Bonuses - 3 bonuses worth $25 each have more value than to get one bonus worth $75

Product – Having all your product arrive in one box has less value than receiving 3 separate shipments.

Retail – Keeping the high prices at a grocery store increases the perception of value and savings when the savings is shown on the receipt

Cars – We feel like we get a better deal on a car when we see the large retail price, and we get a rebate. 

Payments - It is easier to swallow the monthly payments on a large purchase rather than seeing the whole price tag upfront.

Gas – Getting a 10 cent discount when you pay cash is easier to swallow than a 10 cent surcharge for using your credit card.

Payroll – There is higher perceived income when you separate all their benefits on their check versus putting it all in one large sum.

Negotiation – Starting as high or low as possible will get you better terms.

Direct download: Podcast_130.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am CDT

All human beings yearn for direction and guidance. That’s why someone with a vision is so alluring and influential to us.  Charismatics are able to create a strong clear vision of the future.  People will jump on board when they can see that there is a solid vivid vision in place that they can touch, taste, feel, or see.  No one wants to get on a sinking ship.  People want to know: What’s the plan?  Where are we going?  What are we aiming for?  Your goal is to powerfully present how your vision is the solution to their problems. Your vision must bridge the gap between their present situation and their desired situation—where they are, and where they want to be.

Vision is powerful because it keeps us focused on the future objective instead of getting stuck in the current preoccupations of the day.  It gives us focus and purpose for the future.  It creates a big picture.  A cohesive common vision brings people together and unites them toward the same goals and objectives.  Charismatic people have a clearly defined vision and are filled with great enthusiasm and expectation.  Remember more than anything else in life, vision—whether it’s yours or somebody else’s—dictates your daily decisions.  When the vision is clear, the right decisions are easier to make.

A true vision diminishes the fear of failure, negative thinking and promotes synergy.  They want to know what is in for them in the long-term.  Why should they support you and your vision?  How does this affect the whole team?  Your vision builds a bridge from the present status quo to the future objective.

Direct download: Podcast_129.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm CDT

Have you noticed the dramatic changes that have evolved in presentations, communication, and training over the last twenty years? The basic focus used to be on education. Many people are still trying to educate and they always lose their audiences.  Now, the latest research is all about how to grab and keep your audience’s attention, while maintaining charisma.  We can no longer focus simply on educating; we must now entertain and influence.  We must keep our audiences attention.  We must be charismatic.

Charismatic people can maintain and earn the attention of their audience.  We know that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. You don’t have to dance around or be stand-up comedian, but you do have to make sure your audience follows your message, that your words resonate with them, they pay attention, and they understand your message.  The moment you lose their attention, you can no longer influence them and they definitely can’t feel any charisma.  

You could have a great product or cause, be a sharp dresser, publish a great brochure, or even have impressive credentials.  The reality is, however, that the number-one persuasion tool is you, and a big part of how you present yourself and your charisma is through your ability to communicate.  Long gone are the days of hoping people will listen, making them listen or hoping the topic will compensate for your weaknesses as a presenter.   Practice your presentation so it becomes part of you, instead of a slick PowerPoint or a tired outline.  Manage your fear, anxiety or nervousness, so you can radiate charisma.  

Direct download: Podcast_128.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08pm CDT

On episode 127 of Maximize Your Influence, Kurt and Steve start by discussing a recent article, the 7 Mental Blocks to Being Rich.  They then transition to part two of their series on qualities of great leaders. 

Intuition is a big part of your future success.  Intuition helps you read and understand people.  It comes in an instant and we have to be ready to act simultaneously.  Some call it a hunch, gut reaction or a feeling.  Intuition is real and can be harnessed to increase your ability to influence and transmit charisma.  Leaders who are able to distinguish between random thoughts and intuition are more successful in life and in business.  Face it, just take a look at CEO’s of large corporations.  They have access to all the logical research they need to make a good, educated decision.  The successful ones will admit that ultimately they have to follow their heart and use personal intuition.  Studies show that the majority of people use intuition, but had a difficult time verbalizing to others why or how it worked. 

As humans, (when we listen) we have the ability to read people from a facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice or even a smell.  This comes from our early programming as humans to be able to meet a person and instantly decide if they are a friend or foe.  Those that have the ability to follow their intuition correctly would be able to sense danger or make a new friend.  We know when we have met someone for the first time that we have categorized them in the first 30 seconds.  We have decided if we like or dislike the person and this comes from our intuition.

I am not saying never to do any research. You should spend some time gathering and analyzing information.  The challenge is that you can gather information for the rest of your life.  At one point you will have to make a decision and it should be from your intuition.  At times you will have to make a quick decision and you should let your intuition guide you.  It is a combination of your feelings, your wisdom and your experience.  This will take a little faith and a little practice.  Learn to stretch yourself.  Don’t limit yourself to the facts or the opinions of other people.  You have to learn to follow your heart and tap into your priceless intuition.

Some of us are afraid to talk about intuition because it is so hard to explain.  Let me tell you that successful people use it every day.  They don’t always openly talk about it, but it is being used.  Intuition is more valuable than you realize.  It is used to enhance our creativity, charisma and increases our ability to connect with others.  Sure, super analytical people tend to shoot down intuition as woo-woo or something that is just a myth, but it is a skill you can learn and master.  Just because you don’t understand how it works, does not mean that it does not work.

Intuition expands our ability to tap into our previous experience, our knowledge and our stored memories.  We might not remember what memories or experience we are drawing on, but it was something we already have learned and it is expressed as a gut feeling.  The main obstacle that impedes us from following our intuition is convincing ourselves that it works and should be taken seriously.  What are you listening for?  How does your intuition talk to you?  It can be called impulse, urge or even that inner voice.  Start listening and you will save yourself a lot of time, energy and money.

Our instincts can evaluate our previous experiences, sense the emotions of the moment and rely on past knowledge.  We are always receiving constant information through our intuition.  We just need to listen.  As you practice using your intuition, new and inspiring ideas will intuitively and instinctively arise on their own.  You will be able to solve problems fast.  Learn to focus and concentrate, this type of focus will nurture and augment your newfound inner strength and instinct.  Sure your logical mind will fight you on these new thoughts and ideas, but eventually your new found intuition will win.

Direct download: Podcast_127.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am CDT

After speculating about good dining in San Francisco and briefly insulting their listeners there, Kurt and Steve discuss a recent article about whether great leaders are born or made.  They then launch into a discussion about the qualities of good leaders. 

People who know where they are going are able captivate, are passionate and are charismatic.  You can tell when you meet them and when they enter a room.  People are drawn to them because deep down people want to be passionate about something and when they see that passion in your eyes, you become more charismatic.  They sense that you can help them and improve their lives.  This does not guarantee everyone will like you, but they will respect you for your conviction and your passion. 

Passion is very contagious.  When you transfer this passion, the people around you start to radiate that passion.  They perform better, if it is at work, it is no longer work.  They become more proactive, more willing to work as a team and become more optimistic.  When you have tapped into this passion you become more determined and it increases your persistence.  It starts to become a burning desire and consumes you and it radiates to others.  A word of caution, just because you are passionate does not mean you can forego learning the skills you need to be successful.  It is a critical piece of the charisma pie, but you still need more pieces of the pie to radiate powerful long-term charisma.

More than anything else, passion recruits the hearts and minds of your audience.  Charismatics radiate heartfelt passion.  When the audience can sense your passion and sincere conviction for your cause, they will emotionally jump on board.  We all love people who are excited and filled with believable passion for their subject.  Passion is critical to influencing others and transmitting charisma.  When you have passion for something, you want to let everyone know about it.  You want to convert as many people to your cause as possible, and when someone disagrees with you, you are not swayed by their opinions or advice. 

Direct download: Podcast_126.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20pm CDT

One of the aspects of the Law of Association is the use of affiliation. Persuaders want you to affiliate their company with positive images, feelings, and attitudes. Our surroundings and environment trigger feelings and we transfer those feelings to those we are with. For example, one frequently used technique is to take someone to lunch. Food can also generate subconscious triggers (if the food and company are good). The studies show that subjects like people better when they were eating.  Food gives us good feelings and a better attitude.

The idea is to link something positive in the environment with your message. For example, a good game of golf, a weekend at the beach, NFL tickets, or an exotic cruise would all typically build positive associations and feelings in your prospects. Do ever notice after a crushing victory, sweatshirts sporting the university's logo were seen all over the place? People want to be associated with winners. In fact, a study showed that when a university football team won, more students would wear that college's sweatshirts the next week. The bigger the victory, the more college sweatshirts become visible. When you bring positive stimuli into the situation, you will be associated with the pleasant feeling you have created.   

Advertisers and marketers use affiliation to evoke valuable associations in the minds of their prospects. They know that babies and puppy dogs automatically carry great associations of warmth and comfort in the minds of their audience. Consequently, we see tire commercials with babies and car commercials with puppies, even though cars and tires aren't really warm and cuddly. These warm appeals grab our attention and create positive associations in our mind.

One of the most common examples of advertising affiliation occurs with alcohol and cigarette advertisements. How often do you see a lung cancer patient in a cigarette ad? Instead, advertisers in these industries use young vibrant people who are in the prime of their lives. The beer companies want you to associate drinking beer with having fun and attracting the opposite sex. Their ads portray images of men and women having fun, while surrounded by beer. Their message is, "If you aren't drinking, you aren't having fun." On an intellectual level, we all know that these are just advertisements, but the associations they arouse in us stick in our minds and trigger future purchases.

Sponsorship is also used in advertising. Companies and organizations sponsor events that they believe will produce a positive association in the eyes of the public. They hope this positive association will transfer over to their company. The SuperBowl pulls huge sponsorships—companies pay big money to get their name and products associated with the SuperBowl.

Direct download: Podcast_125.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57pm CDT

Neuroscientists have made significant progress on how the brain processes information.  Our brain can be very bias.  This is especially true in politics.  People will always see the good in their party and find the bad in the other.  During an election a scientist asked questions about their candidate and the candidate from the other side while getting an MRI.  When they were told information about their candidate that caused dissonance, the logical side of their brain would shut down and they could not see the bias.

When participants were asked to view a political debate, it was found that the mere presence of a confederate who cheered for one of the candidates influenced the participant's overall evaluation of that candidate in a positive manner.  Obviously, when receiving information in a social setting, the audience can be skewed to perceive the information the way the group tends to hear it.

Direct download: Podcast_124.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:18pm CDT

The Power of "Yes"

Use questions that will create "yeses." As you create your marketing and persuasive presentations, you must engineer the number of times you get your audience to raise their hands, say yes, or nod their heads. How many verbal yeses are you getting? One easy and effective way to get more affirmative responses is to engineer questions that will receive a positive answer. For example, when a word ends in "n't" it will usually bring a "yes" response. Obviously this technique won’t work if they don’t like or trust you. Consider the following phrases:  

Wouldn't it?

Isn't it?

Couldn't it?

Doesn't it?

Shouldn't it?

Won't you?

Can't you?                                                                                             

Wasn't it?

Great persuaders look for times when they can get affirmation from their audience. They engineer their persuasive message to get as many verbal, mental, or physical "yeses" as they can throughout their presentation. And there is good evidence to support this practice. One study brought in a large group of students to do "market research on high-tech headphones." The students were told that the researchers wanted to test how well the headphones worked while they were in motion (students were dancing up and down and moving their heads to the beat of music.) Following the songs, the researchers played a commercial about how the university's tuition should be raised. One group of students had been told to move their heads up and down throughout the music and the speaking. Another group was told to move their heads from side to side. A last group was told to make no movements at all.  

After "testing the headsets," the students were asked to fill out a questionnaire about not only the headsets, but also the university's tuition. Those nodding their heads up and down (yes motion) overall rated a jump in tuition as favorable. Those shaking their heads side to side (no motion) overall wanted the tuition to be lowered. Those who had not moved their heads didn't really seem to be persuaded one way or the other.  In a similar study at the University of Missouri, the researchers found that TV advertisements were more persuasive when the visual display had repetitive vertical movements - up and down yes movements, for example, a bouncing ball.

Direct download: Podcast_123.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25pm CDT

Methods of Protecting Mental Alignment

When we feel dissonance, we have to find a way to deal with the psychological tension. When the rubber band stretches, we cannot not live with this internal pressure.  We will instantly try to find a way to relieve this tension and reduce our dissonance. We have an arsenal of coping mechanisms at our disposal to help us return to cognitive balance. When you see your prospect exhibit one of these behaviors (except modify) you have stretched the rubber band too far and they have snapped.  The internal pressure was too much and they went down an easier or different path.  They will find another solution besides you.  The following list outlines different ways people seek to reduce dissonance.    

Denial—To eliminate the dissonance, you deny there is a problem. You do this either by ignoring or demeaning the source of the information. You could attack (usually verbally) the source – making it their fault. This is somebody else’s fault! You are not to blame. 

Reframing—You change your understanding or interpretation of the meaning, or what really happened. This leads you to either adjust your own thinking or devalue the importance of the whole issue, considering it unimportant altogether.

Search—You are determined to find a flaw in the other side's position, to discredit the source, and to seek social validation or evidence for your own viewpoint. You might attempt to convince the source (if available) of his error. You might also try to convince others you did the right thing.

Separation—You separate the beliefs that are in conflict. This compartmentalizes your cognitions, making it easier for you to ignore or even forget the discrepancy. In your mind, what happens in one area of your life (or someone else's) should not affect the other areas of your life.  Everyone else should do it, but it does not apply to me.

Rationalization—You find excuses for why the inconsistency is acceptable. You change your expectations or try to rationalize what happened. You also find reasons to justify your behavior or your beliefs.  You could say this is not a big deal because everyone is doing it.

Modification—You change your existing beliefs to achieve mental alignment. Most of the time this involves admitting you were wrong or off course and will make changes or adjustments to get back into alignment.

How about real life example?  You told your friend about your new year’s resolution.  You are committed to lose weight.  This will be your year and you enlist your friend to help.  Your friend commits to help you and you are off and running.  Fast forward one month and your friend has caught you polishing off a large container of ice cream.  They call you on your commitment and your rubber band stretches. You feel dissonance. How to do you handle this tension?


Denial – You are fatter than I am, why ride me – remember the time you did…..

Reframing- What I really meant was I will start my diet after I finish this big project.

Search - I researched exercise on the internet and found exercise actually hurts your knees and your health.

Separation – I meant to diet during summer for the beach.  It is winter now so I have time before I will start.

Rationalization - I had a salad for lunch and a meal replacement drink for breakfast, so I am way below my caloric intake.

Modification - You are right I am going to start right now.  Thanks for saying something.

Direct download: Podcast_122.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm CDT

The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance

Leon Festinger formulated the cognitive dissonance theory at Stanford University. He asserted, "When attitudes or beliefs conflict with our actions, we are uncomfortable and motivated to try to change." Festinger's theory sets the foundation for the Law of Dissonance.

The Law of Dissonance proves that people will naturally act in a manner that is consistent with their cognitions. What is a cognition?  Our cognitions is a mental process that uses thoughts, beliefs, experiences, and past perceptions.  Basically that means when people behave in a manner that is inconsistent with these cognitions, (beliefs, thoughts or values) they find themselves in a state of discomfort. In this uncomfortable state, they will be motivated to adjust their behaviors or beliefs to regain mental and emotional balance. When our beliefs, attitudes, and actions mesh, we feel congruent. When they don't, we feel dissonance at some level—that is, we feel awkward, uncomfortable, upset, or nervous. In order to eliminate or reduce that tension, we will do everything possible to adjust our beliefs or rationalize our behavior, even if it means doing something we don't want to do.   

Imagine that there is a big rubber band inside of you. When dissonance is present, the rubber band begins to stretch. As long as the dissonance exists, the band stretches tighter and tighter. You've got to take action before it reaches a breaking point and snaps. The motivation to reduce the tension is what causes us to change; we will do everything in our power to get back in mental balance. We like to feel a level of consistency in our day to day actions and interactions.  This harmony is the glue that holds everything together and helps us cope with the world and all the decisions we have to make. Dissonance causes us to distort our memories or remember what we want to see or how we wanted it to happen.  This blurs reality and allows us to cover our mistakes. 

The human brain needs to be right. It is hard for us to admit we are wrong.  We are programmed to justify what we are doing is right and avoid taking responsibilities when things go wrong. It is easier for us to find ways to prove ourselves right (even when we are wrong) then to admit why we are wrong.  Even when backed into a corner or shown evidence that proves we are wrong, we tend to not change our reasoning or point of view.  We will find reasons, proof, or social support why what we did was OK. We will start to believe our lies to ourselves, it couldn’t be our fault and we persuade ourselves why we were justified. This allows us to live with our thoughts, manage our day to day activities and allows us sleep at night.  Have you ever proved someone they were wrong?  Have you ever backed them into a corner? What happened?  You made the perfect case, but you never heard from them again. 

Direct download: Podcast_121.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18pm CDT

We are firm believers that we all have greatness within us. We believe that we each have within ourselves unwritten books, un-started businesses, brilliant ideas, great inventions, charitable ideas, and untapped energies. But sometimes we have a hard time knowing exactly what our purpose is. We may fill many roles—husband or wife, father or mother, school board member, coach, employee, or community advocate. How do we know which roles will give us the greatest joy and satisfaction? First and foremost, most of us would agree that investing in loving and fulfilling relationships with family and friends is most important. It is a critical part of emotional health and well-being. Beyond this fundamental basis, however, what is it that you live for? What is your purpose and passion in life? Where do your interests and gifts and talents lie? What is your mission in life?

Dare to dream big. Have a purpose that will make getting up in the morning a pleasant task. Know that you are going to become what you want and get what you dream. Don't create a lifeless or unexciting purpose. Many people already know exactly what their purpose is. If you don't know, now is the time to find out. Great persuaders have tapped into and are using their purpose. Understand that for many, the self-discovery process is like sculpting. All you see at first is a big rock and you're not sure what masterpiece lies inside. You know something is there, but you don't yet know how you'll get it out.

Direct download: Podcast_120.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am CDT