Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Getting The 'Yes'

How much of your day is spent trying to influence others positively? We have bosses, employees, our children, our clients, and so forth.  Every interaction is, to some extent, a negotiation. A meeting of influences.

To be successful it can help to remember some of the key reasons that people say 'Yes' in these encounters. By understanding some of the reasons that motivate us to agree, you can position your argument, your dialog, to expose or maximize those reasons. Let me walk through the reasons and give some examples.

One of the key reasons is that "We Give What We Get". We tend to return to others the same behavior, treatment, or attitude that we are given. If you are polite, others will want to return the politeness. If you are rude, we tend to want to respond with rudeness. So if you want someone to be respectful, start by treating them respectfully.  This sounds obvious, and is one of the easiest to provide.  It is also one of the most common that we fail to provide.

Another reason is that "Information Is Power".  When we acknowledge the credibility of another we are allowing them a measure of influence.  By becoming knowledgeable and maintaining your integrity with that knowledge you make it easier to be percieved as creditable.  Once you have the credit, spend it wisely.

This brings us to "Majority Rules".  The more popular a choice is, the more popular a choice becomes.  When we think that everyone around us is doing something, we tend to go along instead of analyzing.  We give a portion of our reasoning to the group allowing others to share in the successes and failures.  If you can demonstrate that the mob is heading your direction, people will want to fit in so as to be included.

Speaking of the mob, "It's Real when Written Down".  When people write things down, they are more inclined to follow through on their commitments.  When someone goes "on record" they are making a public commitment.  Getting that public commitment, either written or in front of others, is a great way to motivate people to come through.  This can be a tricky one, because of the delicate nature.  Personally, I tend to be wary of people who always write things in email because I never know where my words will end up. I wouldn't want to be making a public commitment that I didn't realize was public.  ;-)

When dealing with the mob, "The less Supply, the more Demand".  Anything that is capacity controlled or has limited availability will create a sense of urgency.  That urgency will override our natural tendency to analyze and instead nfluence us to make decisions quickly and then rationalize them later.  This one of the main reasons that the impulse shelves in the grocery store check-out lines are so successful.

The last one is very personal and is simply, Popularity.  When someone likes you, they have a natural tendency to want to say "Yes".

Remember that while these are ways to influence positively, they can also be abused.  If you consider how to apply the techniques, it should easy to develop the defenses against these techniques.

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