Category Archives: Manipulation

Social Proof and Authority – Powerfully Persuasive, Or Horribly Evil?

Two of the most powerful and effective means of persuasion are social proof and authority. Social proof and authority are responsible or some of the greatest marketing stories of all time and some of the most horrible acts of cruelty perpetrated by societies led by evil and charismatic leaders.

Due to hundreds of thousand of years of evolution, the human brain has developed several “short cuts” in thinking. If you were a caveman living a hundred thousand years ago, it wouldn’t have served you very well to sit back and contemplate all your options when your whole tribe was on the move. Those that had a compulsion to follow the crowd generally lived long enough to reproduce, and pass on this compulsion to their offspring. Rebels didn’t.

Despite our tendency to fancy ourselves as independent thinkers and individuals, we are very strongly influenced by group thinking. Fashion, movies, bestsellers, product endorsements all make it much easier for us to make decisions. Our modern thinking brains are the same brains that kept us alive and thriving on the plains of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, and they still operate on the same principles, despite what modern science may try and lead us to believe.

The other factor, authority, is as equally as powerful, for the same reason. Most ancient tribes had a single leader, or small group of leaders. When they made a decision, you followed it, or you were banished or shunned by the tribe. Those that had the compulsion to follow orders from those that had demonstrable authority usually did better than the rebels.

The most famous experiment that demonstrated this was one you’ve likely heard of if you’ve studied psychology. Researchers set up an experiment where they would ask a test subject questions, and then have another test subject give him an electric shock if he got the answer wrong. (This test was performed several years ago. Today if any scientist even proposed such an experiment he would be shunned from the scientific community.) The inside scoop of the experiment was that the leader, dressed in a doctors white coat, and the person receiving the “shocks” were both in on the experiment. No actual shocks were given, and the receiver only pretended to be in pain.

The person giving the shocks, however, didn’t know this. The test was to determine just how far they’d go in listening to an “authority” figure. Much to the horror of the testers, the test subjects (the people giving what they thought were real electric shocks) went much further than anybody expected.

A huge percentage of the test subjects continued to give “shocks” despite the receiver begging them to stop. Only a small percentage refused to do so. At one point, the receiver even pretended to be having heart difficulties. Even so, shocks were still obediently delivered.

If the shocks had actually been real, and not pretend, the voltages would have been enough to kill the test subjects.

Let’s recap, just so you understand the significance. Normal, everyday people, just like you and me, were persuaded to give a potentially lethal electrical shock to a complete stranger, despite his pleadings against it, simply on the word of an authority figure.

The test designers were so horrified by the results, they made sure an experiment of this nature was never performed again.

When you combine social proof, described above, and authority, you get a persuasive message that is virtually impossible to resist. Cult leaders, dictators, and unscrupulous marketers have known this, and have used this.

Jim Jones persuaded people, mothers with their children, to kill themselves. Adolf Hitler persuaded a whole country to willingly murder six million Jews.

These two can be used together to persuade people powerfully. If you are a salesperson, or somebody that persuades others for a living, these two tools can be extremely useful, if used ethically.

When you persuade using these to influence factors in a win-win situation, you will be unstoppable. You can make more money, and attract more lovers than you ever thought possible.

However, be careful. Just the slightest bit of unethical behavior can quickly turn against you. If you use these two techniques to persuade or manipulate people against their best interests, you will soon find yourself as hated as Adolf Hitler.

Be careful.

How The Church Became a Powerful Force In Europe

This morning I came across an old man that I see sometimes when I’m out walking. Usually he doesn’t say anything, he merely grunts, or sometimes nods his head a small fraction of an inch.

This morning, however, he was different. He stopped and said good morning, and his body posture indicated he wanted to speak to me. So I naturally acquiesced, realizing the opportunity to speak a perhaps wise old timer. Maybe he was going to let me in on some of the secrets of life only available after several decades of successful living.

“You walk every morning, huh?” He said.
I nodded.
“How far?” he asked.
I replied that I wasn’t sure, but judging by the time, perhaps three or four kilometers.
“That’s good. You’ll live a long time.” He then described the neighborhood that I live in, telling me about the people that live here.

My neighborhood is surrounded by small, privately maintained rice fields, and apparently they have been in the family for at least two or three generations. Land is expensive, and usually a son will get married and then live with his parents, and eventually inherit the land.

It’s an interesting way to pass on wealth, through family bloodlines. Back in the old old days, it was important to from alliances with several families, and marriages were very strategic, in order to protect land ownership. Nowadays it doesn’t seem to be that way anymore, even here in Japan. Most people when they grow up don’t wish to inherit their families rice field. They’d rather move to Tokyo to get an office job.

I was reading an interesting book about land and wealth and families, and how it had a dramatic effect on the evolution of religion in Europe. Rich and powerful families would own lots of land, and do their best to keep it in the family. Quite often the most powerful landowners were often the same people that were in the government, so if you didn’t own land, you were pretty much at the mercy of those that did.

Marriages were strictly controlled, and the power and wealth of the time was effectively kept in the hands of the few. But when the Church became more and more popular, an interesting struggle began.

On the one hand, you had kings and monarchs that could protect their wealth and power through bloodlines, and marriages selected to keep the wealth in the family. Strategic marriages were extremely common in those times, and often times you had marriages between cousins to maintain the family power.

On the other hand, you had the Church. The Church had no method like bloodlines or arranged marriages to maintain its power. But eventually, the church became the de facto governing power in much of Europe.

This happened through the development of moral laws, primary to control the sexual behaviors of people. By controlling the sexual behavior of people, the church basically controlled those arranged marriages that he kings and nobles used to protect their bloodlines. The church enforced all kinds of moral laws regarding whom you could marry, effectively limiting the power of the monarchs to choose their own bloodlines.

Soon the church was dictating through its enforced moral laws, which families were marrying who.

An interesting way this happened stems from the idea of the “first son.” Generally, the first-born son was the inheritor of the father’s wealth, and the second son was generally left to the good graces of the first son, which generally weren’t very much.

So another interesting thing happened which gave the Church even more power. The groups, which entered into the monastery, or priesthood, and soon became the group that was dictating moral law to the rest of society, were these second sons.

The second sons that were being shut out of the family fortune, were collectively entering the church to create moral laws to diminish the wealth and power of individual families, and increase the wealth the and power of the church.

And that is how the Catholic Church quickly became the most powerful force in Europe. By effectively controlling the sexual behavior of others.

How to Persuade Others to Give You What You Want

There has been much debate over the last several years as to why the human brain became so large. Compared to our body weight, it is much larger than our nearest relatives, the other apes. Some of the leading theories are that we need large amount of brainpower for spatial processing. It has been argued, notably in Howard Bloom’s “The Lucifer Principle,” that the need to hunt via action at a distance (e.g. throwing a spear and hitting moving target) required quite a bit of mental development.

Others have argued that our brains developed such large size due to our need to communicate. But why so large? Scientists have known for years that other mammals communicate through verbal interaction. Dolphins, whales, wolves. This is certainly not related to humans. But why did human’s language become so much more complex than others?

It might be easier to understand when you change your paradigm of the purpose of language. Most assume that the purpose of language is merely to exchange information. Researchers are beginning to wonder if this is a foregone conclusion. Some argue that the entire purpose, the entire driving force of language is not to communicate information, but to persuade. Even when a simple communication of information is the apparent goal, the underlying intent, even if it’s subconscious, is to persuade. Persuasion with statistics is but one of the many ways to convince others of your way of thinking.

If you could remember back to when you made your first sound, you would probably recall being under a great deal of stress. You had just come out from the safety and protection of your mothers womb, and were thrust, painfully so, into a harsh and unfamiliar environment. You had to breath for the first time. It was cold. You couldn’t feel the familiar thump-thump-thump of your mother’s heart. Naturally, your first response wasn’t to shout for joy to the skies, or voice your appreciation for your new discovery, but more likely to curse the gods for your predicament.

Then a funny thing happened. The more you cried, the more attention you got. Attention that brought you back to what you were missing. Comfort, attention, protection. The more you cried, the more you learned that you were cause, and the new world in which you lived was effect.

As you grew up, that repeated over and over again, thousands of times. You had a feeling; you expressed that feeling through your voice and actions, in attempt to manipulate your environment. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it doesn’t. Many people go through their whole lives frustrated because it is not as simple as it was when you were a baby. When we all reach the age of two or so, suddenly a simple cry doesn’t bring with it the immediate and comforting response we expect. And that is both frustration and worrisome. Does that mean that our world doesn’t care that much about us any more? Or does that simply mean we need to change our strategy? To formulate a new way of expressing our desires with a greater probability to getting them realized by others?

Luckily, there has been a whole lot of study in that area. There are specific ways to structure your communication to persuade others to give you what you want. Good ways and bad ways. Ways that will leave a good taste in the mouth of those that help you, and those that leave them with a funny feeling that they’ve been had. Ways to help you out in the short term, and ways to ensure your long-term success.

Just as surely as you expected your mother to pick you up when you cried, you can be sure of others actions based on your communication. It’s not that the world doesn’t care any more, it’s just that you need to be more specific with your requests, and frame them in such a way that the person fulfilling your requests will be happy for doing so. There are numerous strategies and methods I will share with you over the next several weeks that will give you incredible power over others, so much so that they will enjoy doing that.

Stay tuned.

What Catches Your Interest?

The other day I was walking down the street, just ambling along. It was the weekend, and I had slept in a little bit later than normal. As such I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I was a bit hungry, although that wasn’t my only purpose for going out. It was a nice day so I decided to stroll downtown to look in the shops, do some people watching, and eventually gets something to eat. You know how when you do this, it can be better. You just float along without any particular destination in mind. People can really enjoy doing this. It can be better than the other way.

So I was just looking in shops, occasionally flirting with girls I passed on the street when I bumped into an old friend. He’s the kind of friend that one would consider low maintenance. The kind that you only need to send a random email to every few months to keep each other up to date on things. Then when you get together, you can quickly remember all those good times you’ve had together, and all those good feelings can help you to really enjoy the present. Other friendships are so lucky, and you have to consistently keep them going. It’s almost like when you were a kid and you convinced your mom to buy you a hamster. It looked really cute in the store, but when you got I home and realized what pain it was to maintain, it didn’t seem so cute any more. And the paradoxical thing is that although it became a pain, this slowly turned into a commitment that through completely different reasons caused you to maintain an interest.

Just before I bumped into my friend, I noticed a commotion across the street. It had seemed that there was a sizeable crowd gathered. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we humans are highly susceptible to follow the crowd, even though many of us don’t like to admit it. When we see a crowd it becomes very hard to resist finding out what the heck is going on.

So naturally I crossed the street to investigate. It was a new surf shop that mainly had surfboards and peripherals. I’ll admit I know absolutely nothing about surfing, which is embarrassing having grown up in a beach town where surfing is popular. The draw was two girls dressed in bikinis, which were one of many clothing items that the store apparently carried. The two girls were professional models who were hired for a couple hours. Their job was to stand outside during lunchtime and attract as many customers as possible. Obviously it worked

Despite my complete lack of knowledge regarding surfing, I nevertheless had to take a look inside. It’s interesting when you look at something. As I was looking at all the surfboards on display, I couldn’t help but notice that some were really interesting, and I couldn’t help but to get really curious about their design and origin. Others that I didn’t think were as interesting only earned a passing glance. Which is interesting in and of itself, the way interest is generated and all that. Why would one surfboard catch one person’s interest, and another surfboard seem completely boring? Not to mention all the accessories, not that I have any idea what they are used for. I ended up spending about twenty minutes walking around the inside of that surf shop. I guess the owner really knew what he was doing when he hired those two bikini models.

After I found out that my friend hadn’t eaten yet either, we decided to head down to a Thai restaurant. There, you can order based on scale of hotness. I always appreciate a spicy meal, so I endeavor to go as hot as I can take it. My friend, on the other hand, being from the south, doesn’t have much of a taste for spicy food, and likes to keep to dishes of four or less.

The Power and Danger of Persuasive Language

There’s been a lot written lately about persuasion. When I say lately, I mean the last thirty years or so. Before then, whenever somebody wanted to sell somebody something, they usually came up with some snappy advertising jingle, and put the product, along with the jingle or some slogan in front of as many people as possible, in hopes that they would be convinced to buy this product. Advertising agencies were the ones that generated the jingles and the slogans. Company execs would pay a huge amount of money to these advertising firms in hopes of creating a memorable meme, or what Mark Twain called “Ear Worms.”

That way the product would be magically attached to this earworm and when people decided to buy a product, that would be the first one on their minds.
Because most people have inherent experience being persuaded to do things, clean your room, finish your vegetables, and everything else humans get conned into doing, they felt that learning persuasion, as a science wasn’t something that needed to be done.

Enter NLP.

In the seventies, a group of guys discovered some incredible language patterns that some therapists had learned to use on their clients with almost magical success. They modeled these patterns and found that when string words together in a certain way, they would have a certain effect. If this sounds similar to coming up with a jingle or a slogan, you are absolutely correct. The difference between them and a jingle or a slogan is that these new patterns had more of a scientific basis them. Jingles or slogans were generated largely by how the ad executives felt about them. How they thought they would work based on their feelings.

These new patterns had a certain degree of structure and repeatability. Meaning that a message structured the same way would generate the same effect in various individuals on consistent basis.

With jingles, they sort of “hoped” that they would work and just threw them out there. Many times when they didn’t work, they would blame the market, or the economy, or the product. They never really sat back and said “Jeeze, this jingle really sucked ass.”

Language patterns on the other hand, had a consistent effect, regardless of the market, or the product or the economy.

But with this new language technology, another problem exists. Before, people had to really focus on creating a good product that many people would get real value from. With these new patterns, it became possible to create the illusion of short-term value that would slowly fade over time, leaving a bad taste in the consumer’s mouth. It became easier for people to focus less on the steak, and more on the sizzle.

The thing the many of these persuasive language-using salesmen don’t understand is that when they say, “sell the sizzle, not the steak,” the underlying presupposition is that the steak is a quality steak, not some old leathery piece of meat that has been in the freezer for six months.

With this new language technology, it has been possible to sell the sizzle, when the steak is really not worth your chewing effort.

If you can combine a decent product that will provide long term value for your customers, with some of these persuasive language patterns, your success is virtually guaranteed. Not only will people be convinced to buy your product over all of your competitors, but also their appreciation of your product will generate sales and referrals and additional income for you.

That is what they mean when they say “Win-Win.”

How Other People’s Criteria Can Get You Everything You Want

I was sitting in a bookshop the other day, like I like to do, as those of you that read this blog on a daily basis have noticed. And I saw some guy walking around the shop giving out his business cards. He was very bold. He would just walk up to somebody, introduce himself, and give a quick introduction, and then before his mark knew it, they were holding one of his business cards. I wasn’t near enough to listen to what he was saying to people, because I was sitting in the coffee shop section of the bookshop.

I was reading this interesting book on metaphor. The book was talking about how all word are really metaphors for things that, with our limited capacities of understanding, can only approximate through our language. The best we can do as communicators is share our metaphors with each other, and hope that our underlying understanding of what it is that we are talking about overlaps enough so that we can communicate our ideas and feelings to each other. Sometimes though, when people communicate, there are several different meanings on several different levels, and you can never be quite sure what it is that this person is saying, even if you can lip read and have a clear view of their mouth.

But as this guy kept handing out his business cards, and judging by the expressions on the faces of the people that were on the receiving end, I got the sinking suspicion he was trying to sells something. I don’t think he was giving out free information like how to keep your car in tip top shape or how to make sure that when you bake your thanksgiving turkey it comes out with a moist juicy inside, and a crunchy delicious outside. I got the sinking suspicion he was a network marketer of some sort.

And judging by his approach, he seemed to be going for the shotgun marketing technique, or what is sometimes called the spaghetti marketing technique. This, as you are well aware, is when you throw your pitch to as many people as possible, and inevitably you will get a few that buy into your ideas. If you do this enough, you will likely be successful, so long as you follow the old ABC rule of sales: Always Be Closing.

“That works, but it takes a lot of energy. And the thing is, for every sale you get; you are going to have a few people that are angry that you approached them. Which is fine, you have a thick skin. But some people starting out, that’s not the best way to go.”

I heard a voice from behind me say. I looked, and I guess it was obvious that I was watching this guy.

“Oh?” I said.
“What do you recommend?”

“Well, the best way is to have a business card with a website on it. Then just give out the business card to as many people as possible, but without asking for a sale. Just tell them to visit the website if they are interested in the general kind of products you are offering. The on the website you have information about your product, and an email form to fill out if you are interested in more information. The people that fill in the information are called warm leads. These are much easier to convert to sales than cold leads, like that poor fellow is trying to do.”

“Hmm, sound interesting.” I said.

“What do you do when they say they want more information?”

“It’s all about criteria. All you need to do, is to find out what’s important to them. Once they tell you what’s important to them, all you have to do is show them how they will satisfy that need in buying your product.”

“Interesting. You are in sales, I take it?” I asked him.

“Oh, no,” he said.
“I’m an architect. I just like studying human behavior as a hobby.”

“So where did you learn this?” I asked him.

“I took a seminar from a guy a few years back, and he said that selling things to people, ideas, products, new behaviors is all really part of the same structure. People are a walking set of unmet needs. And these needs go very deep. He said that when you can elicit just one or two of these needs, and show them how it can be satisfied by one of your products or ideas, or new behaviors, they will not only eagerly accept it, but they will thank you afterwards.”

Hmm, interesting, I thought, turning back to my book on metaphors. In case you’re interested, the book is “Metaphors We Live By,” by George Lakoff. It’s fascinating, and I highly recommend it.

People Skills are Money Skills

The other day I was sitting in an airport waiting for a friend of mine. As soon as I realized that I’d forgotten to bring the scrap of paper on which I wrote down her flight number and arrival gate, I had a flash of insight. I used to do something a certain way, and then after that I did something else. But then I realized that if I could organize things a little bit differently, I would be able to actually do them both better, as one was a natural extension of the other. I was doing them in the opposite order, not because I thought they naturally went that way, but because I was doing the first thing because although I recognized that it was necessary, I also realized, on some level, that it was uncomfortable, and I wanted to get it out of the way.

I don’t know why I had this flash of insight while I was sitting there in the airport, but I took out my notebook and scribbled it down, hoping that I’d remember to look at my notebook later so I could reverse the order of the way I was doing things in hopes of doing them better.

I read this in a book by about developing creativity. Always keep as small notebook with you, that way when you have a flash of insight, you’ll be able to remember it later, and use it to help yourself get whatever it was you wanted to get.

After I wrote this down, I couldn’t help but notice all the people milling about in the airport, waiting for people. Some looked happy, some looked a little sad. You could tell which people were separating, and which were reuniting. It is always nice to see people get together and express an open appreciation for each other, and it always makes me a little sad when is I see people saying goodbye.

It reminded me of a book I was reading the other day, which was about job relocation. The author was talking about how when people change jobs, which in this day and age should be a given, considering that the average person has at least five careers in their life. When you change jobs, the skills that are the most important are not the technical skills that change with every job, but your people skills. Those that have the best people skills will always be in demand, and always make the most money. So the bottom line, according to this book I was reading was that you need to always be working on and improving your people skills.

One way to do this is to always make it a habit of talking to strangers. I think it is an exercise that was inspired by Ben Franklin, who said to “Always look for the virtue in others.” The exercise is to start an innocent conversation with a complete stranger, and try to covertly extract a virtue or two from them, and then share their own positive qualities with them. This will greatly increase your self-confidence and ability to interact with others to get what you want and to promote yourself.

And when my friend finally showed up, I was surprised that I had remembered the correct gate. Imagine that.

Release and Be Free

I remember when I was a kid we were studying anthropology in school. It wasn’t actually anthropology, because it was only third or fourth grade. I don’t think we actually studied anthropology until maybe high school. I guess it was called science, or maybe nature. Weird how that is. When you grow up and learn new things, things you experienced before take on a completely different light. Certain filters are removed from your experience, and certain filters are added. Things just don’t look the way they did back then. Which is kind of cool, when you think about. All I knew back then was this thing called “science.” Now I know about all different kinds of science and different ways to study and different fields. It’s truly amazing that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. It’s like each new thing you learn or experience has the possibility of branching into about a million other things. This is one of the reasons I think it’s important for people to always continue learning.

So our teacher recommended a movie that we watch. It was about animals and different tribes in Africa. There was on famous scene that stands out. I’ve heard this particular scene brought up in several different conversations related to several different things, so it’s likely that you’ve seen it or have at least heard about it.

It goes like this. These tribesmen knew a troupe of monkeys had a secret water stash someplace. But the monkeys were smart, and they never hit up their secret stash when they knew they were being followed. So the tribesman had to figure out a way to outsmart the monkeys. They found a small hole that went into a rock. It was maybe a few inches deep, and then opened up into a much large hole after an inch or so. They sat next to this hole until the a monkey happened by. Then they carefully, and obviously took some pieces of something out of a pouch, and then put them one by one into the hole, making sure the monkey would watch. Then they left. The monkey, being a curious little monkey, wanted to know what was in the hole. So he went over and stuck his hand in to grab the small mystery items. He could barely fit his monkey hand in the hole, but once he felt around and picked up all the mystery items, he couldn’t retract his hand, because when he clutched his fist to hold the items, it couldn’t come out of the hole.

Later on the tribesmen came back. They monkey was still stuck. They started feeding the monkey very salty snacks. The monkey kept eating, but his hand was still voluntarily stuck in the hole. All he had to do was release the mystery items, and he would be free. But his curiosity demanded that he hold the items. His monkey brain also demanded that he eat the free snacks. As time went by, he became thirstier and thirstier until he couldn’t bare it any more. He finally released the mystery items, and ran to his secret water source. He was so thirsty that he forgot to practice monkey stealth, and lead the tribesman directly to the secret monkey water source.

Now think about this poor monkey. He had set up a system where he had a resource, which he took pains to protect. Then he suddenly came across something that he became really interested in. Something he had to have. Like he said to himself “You really have to get this.” Or maybe he said to himself “You really need this here.” I don’t know. But he had a system set up, and he was derailed by his curiosity over something that might or might not have been an additional resource. Something he hadn’t set out looking for, something he hadn’t decided beforehand was important. He saw something, wanted it, and without any thought or planning wasted a lot of his effort chasing something that he didn’t even know the value of.

To make matters worse, when he had what he thought might be important in his grip, it became severely restricting. He couldn’t move. That which he had convinced himself was important had power over even his physical movement. To make matters worse, while he was in the clutches of this unknown, perhaps worthless item (most likely a handful of useless pebbles), he gave in more to his greed and gobbled up the free food that was given to him, which further reduced his power and choice.

Pretty soon the poor monkey was so desperate to overcome his sudden problems he decided the best course of action would be to reveal his secret resource to all who wanted it, perhaps diminishing its value completely. To chase something that might turn out to be completely worthless, the monkey gave up everything. Of course he was only a monkey. He didn’t know that the best way was to never be dependent on free stuff. To take your time to investigate things that falls out of the sky. And had he not been a monkey, he might have learned the most powerful lesson of all. When you find yourself in times of trouble, the best course of action might be to just release, and take a step back, instead of holding on tightly to something that is causing you all kinds of trouble.


Social Proof – Good or Bad?

I was riding my bike through a park near my house this morning. I saw this old guy next to a small stream. The stream is actually a drainage trough that leads to the ocean. They have built so there are several steps going down as the stream flows out. That way the water can pool in each area between the steps. In a few steps, where the man was looking, there were several fish. He explained to me that these were poi fish. When I asked him why they were so big, he explained that there was an elementary school nearby, and the kids would feed them on the way home. Because they can eat anything, the poi eagerly gobbled up anything the kids threw at them, providing it was edible.

One of the friends I used to work with was a very picky eater. She would take forever to choose what she wanted from the menu. Whenever somebody suggested something, she’d come up with a reason why it wouldn’t be good. Not fresh. Too expensive. Vegetables out of season. And the funny thing was whenever she finally decided to order something, she would invariably see something that somebody else had ordered and decide to change her order. Many times it was something that somebody had suggested earlier, and she’d dismissed for some reason or another. I always felt sorry for the waiter or waitress that had to go back and explain to the chef that he or she would have to start over again.

It’s funny how social proof works. You see somebody standing on a street corner looking up at the sky, and you look at the person. But if you see ten people looking up at the sky, you will almost automatically look up at the sky. This phenomenon has been described by many scientists as a shortcut of thinking. Instead of walking up and asking each person what they are looking at, and then making a determination whether or not to take a gander, the brain automatically floods the body with a strong desire to follow the crowd. It’s as if the ability to think for yourself gets temporarily shut off. This can be helpful, and invariably was helpful during our period of evolution. If you saw a bunch of your cavemen neighbors running very fast one direction, you either had the instinct to immediately join them or get eaten by whatever was chasing them. It can have huge negative effects when you are following the crowd in a bad direction, like in Nazi Germany, for example. Certain traits of human nature can be used both for good and evil. It’s important to monitor your thoughts and actions, and make sure they are your thoughts and actions, and not because somebody or some group of people have hijacked your brain.

But my friend finally realized that it was ok to take the advice of friends. And she learned to take her time to make a decision, so that when she finally made it, she was able to stick with it. And the rest of us were happy because we were all secretly a little bit embarrassed for the waiter. All in all it was a good decision.

And since I’ve been feeding the fish, my favorite part is watching how all the fish that are nowhere near the place where I throw the bread into the water come rushing over as soon as they see one of their fish buddies eating. I guess they follow the rules of social proof as well.


The Power of Pacing and Leading

I love to cook. Even more than loving to cook I love to eat. And when I like to cook, I like to use many gadgets to help me in those endeavors. One of my weaknesses in life is buying stuff that I really don’t need. I don’t know what it is, maybe I have a weak resistance to an effective sales pitch. Maybe I like to imagine all the wonderful ways I can use that gizmo that looks so incredibly cool here in the store or on TV. Most of the time, when I buy something, I really enjoy it for a while until it loses it’s luster. Then I go and buy something else. Rarely do I ever regret making a purchase. Once I bought a kitchen gadget from an infomercial, used it frequently, and then saw the commercial again. It was such a persuasive commercial, I was tempted to buy another one.

If you can turn off your automatic impulse buying response for a moment, you can learn a lot about persuasion from those infomercials. They grab your attention, lead you through a fantastically engineered sales presentation, and then make you think that you can’t afford not to buy what they are selling. Two of the techniques that they use fairly well are the principles of pacing and leading.

If you’ve read my article on rapport, then you know what I mean when I say pacing. Pacing is when you match the other persons reality as much as possible. You do and say things that they will agree with. You do this enough times that they slowly begin to turn off that “critical factor” that we all have in our brains that tell us be careful of things that we are not sure of. Once this “critical factor” is shut off, we will follow anybody,  anywhere. If you can pace somebody to the state where they have shut this off, you will be in a good position to begin to lead them.

When leading somebody, it is important to take them in small baby steps first. If you ask them to take a big step too soon, it will jar them back behind the protective guidance of their critical factor. If you’ve ever bought something from an infomercial, you’ve realized that the whole system is seamlessly set up to increase the amount of money you’ll spend. You start to watch the show. They are talking about how you hate to cook (uh huh). You have a long day at work, and when you come home you don’t want to slave away in the kitchen (uh huh). You wish there were a better way (uh huh). You’d like to spend only  few minutes to create a delicious meal for the whole family (uh huh).

Wouldn’t you know it? Here we have a brand new tool that can help you! (ok!) You can use this tool to slice (ok!), dice, (ok!) and puree (ok!)! And it’s not three hundred dollars, not even two hundred dollars, not even one hundred dollars. You can buy now (ok!) for the low low price of 39.95 (ok!).

Think about the actual product you are getting for your money. If you were sitting at home, and some guy knocked on your door, with the exact same product with the exact same price, you’d likely tell him no thanks. But watch a twenty minute infomercial, complete with studio audience and genius level engineered persuasion tactics, and you are rushing for your phone with your credit card in hand.

Same product and price, but two completely different methods of information delivery. Do you think it pays to be able to harness the power of persuasion? Do you think you owe it to yourself to learn this powerful technology?

Who would you rather be, the poor guy going door to door and getting rejected over and over, or the multi millionaire selling the same product on TV? Stay tuned for more articles on how to become a powerful persuader. Bookmark this page so you can come back and read articles under the “persuasion” category any time.