Science behind the skill to convince others

The most important trait of successful individuals is their ability to convince others.

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“Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus, credit goes to the clown for acting the clown.”

Have you ever thought about why some people can convince you so easily while many are not?

Next time when you go for shopping, analyze your behavior. Once you make a purchase, retrospect what influenced your buying decision? Did you buy that particular product because you wanted to buy it, or did the sales rep sell it to you?

Another scenario. Imagine you’re standing in a queue to submit your daughter’s school fee and a lady approaches you with a request to allow her to bypass you. You have a very important meeting for which you need to get back to the office as soon as possible. What would you do? Accept her request or deny?

The point to ponder is how you take these decisions.

Fortunately, there is no rocket science behind this. It’s all a science of few psychology theories that can be understood easily and used practically.

The Theory of Automatic Actions

This theory says that we have thoughts present in our brains that automatically trigger our decision without having to think consciously. For example, when you drive, you need not think about how to turn the steering wheel or change the gear, it just happens, automatically.

Likewise, we have thoughts seeded in our brain that stimulate our decision on things such as which product to buy, what to watch on Netflix, or even, is this person good or bad. And we keep on developing these thoughts gradually as we grow.

To understand this better, let’s take an example of shopping.

Let’s say you belong to a well-off family where you have been taught that never compromise on quality and all valuable things come with a price. And to contrast, let’s say your friend had a moderate upbringing and for him, the brand doesn’t matter. It is more likely that you would have a developed thought that expensive things are better because they are expensive. Whereas for your friend, this most likely will not be the case. So when you both go to a showroom, you end up like two different things.

You may be wondering how this is related to the skill of convincing others.

This is how you become bait for a skilled sales rep who can analyze what thoughts you carry. You will not even realize, but a skilled sales rep will easily convince you by playing with your mind as he would analyze that you’re most certainly under the thought - ’Expensive Is Better’.

All he has to do is show some confidence, choose the right words, and show you the item in the right sequence starting with the least expensive item to the most expensive, and you are sold. Without any doubt, you will buy the most expensive item, without realizing that the other items were equally good or even better.

You may think that you ended up buying what you wanted, but it is his skills that influenced your decision, stimulated by the environment.

You can read more about the theory of automatic actions here.

The Theory of Reasoning

The answer to our second scenario, would you have allowed the lady to break the queue to submit the fee before you, lies in the theory of reasoning. This theory is built upon a notion that we (humans) are very logical, and henceforth, we are more likely to accept a request when it has a ‘BECAUSE’, I mean - a logical reason. This theory is extremely effective, easy to implement, and purely based on common sense (but as you know, common sense is not common).

In the Queue scenario, your decision will entirely depend on how the lady makes the request. If the lady knows the theory of reasoning, it is almost certain that you will accept her request.

To absorb this theory, test it out. Ask yourself what you would have done if she had said this to you:

“Hey. Can you please allow me to submit the fee before you? I’m in a hurry!”

I don’t know your answer, but it is more likely that many of you would have said ‘No’. And the simple reason is, why should you say ‘Yes’, or allow her, as there is no reason.

However, if the request was something like below, you would certainly have accepted her request.

“Hey. Can you please allow me to submit the fee before you BECAUSE I’m in a little hurry. My mother is not well and I need to take her to the doctor.”

When you feed the reason to the brain, it accepts the request unless it has another solid reason to counter the logic. In the latter case, the brain evaluates both the options and in most cases compels you to compromise and choose the option that does not hurt others. If there is no reason, the brain will completely ignore the request or reject it outrightly without evaluating it.

Now you know what you to do when you need to convince others to break the queue :).

You can read more about the theory of reasoning here.

The Theory of Contrast

Last, but not least. This theory is my personal favorite. This trick is a little difficult to implement, but when used cleverly, you can convince anybody of anything. It is like Brahmastra, the weapon which can’t be defied, success is guaranteed.

The theory of contrast says that we (humans) are very evaluative and mostly all our decisions are based on the comparison, or usually relative, rather than absolute. And hence, we tend to like an average thing more when compared to an inferior substitute. Similarly, we dislike an average thing more than it deserves to be disliked when compared with an outshining alternative.

To prove this theory, some researchers did an experiment in which they divided men into two groups. One group of men was taken to a room with a TV on which Baywatch was being played, and the second group was in a room with no TV. To the researcher’s astonishment, men in the TV room rated their wives too low on looks even though this group of men had very beautiful wives.

What would you have done? I bet, you would have done the same. Why? It’s not your fault, the credit goes to Pamela Anderson.

You can read more about the theory of contrasts here.

To summarise, a highly valuable skill such as the ability to convince others is something that can be learned. Next time when you want to convince others, follow these simple techniques:

  1. Try to analyze your target, his or her personality. Try to predict what he or she is thinking. Then act accordingly so that your target makes the decision automatically stimulated by his or her unconscious thinking.

  2. Always add a logical reason to your request.

  3. Try to bring in comparison to prove your point or get your idea accepted as people will weigh down a bad idea to accept yours even if it is average.

Remember, the most important trait of all the successful individuals the world has known is their ability to convince others.

If you can convince yourself, you can convince a lot more people around you!!