Maximize Your Influence

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