5 Tips To Unlock The Power Of Pre-Suasion
Every day, we’re exposed to an onslaught of attempts to influence our actions and determine our decisions. Whether it’s a telemarketer, a manager, or even your mother, sometimes it can seem like everyone is asking for something.
And while you may think you’re in complete control of your decisions, the truth is, whoever you’re dealing with may be using background information to influence your actions. As unlikely as it may seem, we’re all susceptible to this type of manipulation.
The way questions are framed, the context in which they’re asked, and even subtle selections in word choice all play significant roles whenever a response is requested from us. And whether or not you’d like to believe it, some individuals intentionally use this approach, dubbed pre-suasion, in order to increase their odds of getting their way.
Coined by author Robert Cialdini in his book of the same name, the term “pre-suasion” refers to the practice of getting others to agree with you by putting them in a mindset similar to your own. “Pre-suaders,” therefore, capitalize on the emotions of their targets in order to make their own agendas appear more relevant than they actually are.
Yet you don’t need to be a manipulative marketer or a pernicious peddler in order to harness the power of pre-suasion. Anyone can use this Jedi mind-trick to step up their sales game or simply be more aware of attempts to influence them.
If you’re interested in learning more about pre-suasion and its applications, here are 5 key insights from Cialdini’s bestselling book.
1. Identify “single chute” questions to protect yourself from pre-suasion
Should a stranger ever ask you if you’re unhappy with a current service provider—or simply unhappy in general—you’re likely being set up by pre-suasion. As humans, we have a natural tendency to focus on what exists rather than what doesn’t. So when we’re prompted to evaluate our level of unhappiness, such “single-chute questions” can lead us down a pathway that confirms our questioners’ argument, rather than disputing it. To test the validity of this strategy yourself, try it out before your next meeting. Ask a question or draw attention to a subject that positively aligns with your purpose, and you’ll be far more likely to get whatever it is you’re asking for.
2. In general, individuals value tangible motivators over morals and ethics
As a civilization, we tend to overestimate tangible benefits in favor of those that are less apparent. Stated more simply, humans are motivated by financial self-interest above just about anything else. But what does this say about our species? Are we programmed to act solely based on personal benefits? Or maybe it’s not that simple. In any case, it’s important to recognize that moral and social obligations can be obscured by financial dealings. And whether this is right or wrong, the fact remains that money motivates people more so than justice or goodwill. If nothing else, this proves that anyone with the right game plan can exploit our tendency to cherish physical good over intangible principals.
3. Never underestimate the power of carefully chosen words
More than any other single factor, the decisions we make are influenced by the words leading up to them. In the author’s view, this is because the majority of us view language as a way to convey an idea, whereas the true purpose of speech is to direct the listener’s attention to pursue a particular course of action. This is accomplished by linking positive actions with values a listener agrees with. In other words, to influence the reactions of a certain group, carefully consider which words you’ll use, while attempting to link them to your listeners’ unique set of values.
4. External factors and internal landscapes determine the fate of any decision
The physical environment we find ourselves in when asked a question figures prominently into the decision we ultimately make. Depending upon where we are and what’s happening around us, it’s not uncommon for external prompts to play a pivotal role in where our choices take us. But it’s not only our physical coordinates that affect our actions—our internal geographies, including our attitudes, expectations, prejudices, and memories, also factor into the equation. Additionally, similar to the way we choose to focus on a happy or sad thought, we can also direct the attention of others toward what they lack, rather than that which they possess. By learning to control your own external factors and internal landscapes, you’ll have an easier time achieving personal and public success.
5. Be wary of enticing things
Our species tends to give preferential treatment to objects and individuals that capture our attention. In order to avoid such intentionally enticing objects, train your response reflex to automatically ignore that which you think you might be led to need or want. And if you want to take things a step further and be fully aware of your inquirer’s intentions, internally question why your attention is being pulled away from one subject in favor of another.
These five insights just scratch the surface of what you have to learn from Robert Cialdini’s Pre-Suasion. To discover even more of the wisdom hidden within this book, download the Blinkist app today and get the full gist of Cialdini’s book in under 15 minutes.
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