Maximize Your Influence

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.

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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