You can’t always get what you want…
…but the science of persuasion can help
Win someone round to your point of view, talk your employer into giving you a pay rise, or persuade your partner it’s their turn to walk the dog – getting people to do your bidding can be very hard. Persuasion is a crucial element of human interaction, from politics to marketing to everyday dealings with friends, family and colleagues.
Unfortunately it is both notoriously difficult to pull off and almost impossible to resists when done well. Psychologists have long been fascinated by persuasion – why some people are better at it than others and why some strategies work where others fail.
To help me (and you) negotiate the minefield, here is just 1 of 7 insights from a book I have been reading – Recipes for Success by Dan Jones and Alison Motluk
1. Be their mirror
WHEN you’re aware of it, it’s one of the most infuriating behaviours imaginable. Yet mimic someone’s mannerisms subtly – their head and hand movements, posture and so forth – and it can be one of the most powerful forms of persuasion. That’s the conclusion of a number of studies.
Scientists in France have explored the effects of mimicry on a group of students in two role-play experiments, one involving negotiation between job candidates and recruiters, the second between buyers and sellers. in both cases, the outcome of the negotiations was better for the would-be persuaders when they employed subtle mimicry. For example, in the buyer-seller experiment, two thirds of sellers who mimicked their target secured a sale, as opposed to an eighth who did not.
Another study invited students to try a new sports drink called Vigor and discuss it with a sales rep. The drink was actually a flavored ice drink and the reps were fake, though the students did not know this. Half of the reps were instructed to mimic the physical and verbal behaviour of half of the students they spoke to.
These chameleon reps elicited more positive ratings of the drink, and the students they mimicked consumed more of it during the chat.
This is was the first study to show that mimicry can essentially enhance persuasion in interpersonal interactions as people felt especially positive about the product and its market prospects.
BUT be warned, overt mimicry can backfire on you, or at least be very embarrassing if detected, it’s far from a free shot at persuasiveness.
- be subtle
- leave a delay
- stop if you think you’ve been rumbled