The art of persuasion is a subtle, complex discipline which requires skill. Some can make people do whatever they want, while others have trouble asking for something as simple as a glass of water. So how can you improve your methods of convincing, haggling, and swaying the opinion of others? Well, as it turns out, there are a number of useful “tricks” hidden in the enormous wealth of psychological knowledge. Someone who knows a lot about the human brain and how people think will find it much easier to persuade others. Most people think in similar ways, and once you understand what makes people “tick,” you can really use it to your advantage.
And millions of people have already figured out the perfect method to convince others. Just look at all of the salespeople, politicians and lawyers in the world. There are countless shrewd merchants out there who could take your shirt off your back and sell it back to you if they wanted to. And don’t even get us started on commercials. Companies have been convincing customers that their products are magical and miraculous for many, many years. So how can you use this to your advantage? Well, here’s a few tricks that many people already have hidden up their sleeve…
The Reciprocity Norm
It’s a trick that has existed since the dawn of humanity – maybe even before then… The “Reciprocity Norm” pretty much boils down to, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” But taking it one step further, research has shown that humans are more likely to do something for you if you’ve already done a favor for them. Basically, people feel a sense of obligation to “even the score” and pay you back if you’ve done something nice in the past for them.
So how does this help you persuade people to do what you want? Simple. First, do a favor for them. It doesn’t even have to be big, either – it could be as simple as getting them a cup of coffee or buying them lunch. When the time comes and you need something from them, or you’re trying to persuade them to share your opinion, they be more likely to be swayed into your line of thinking.
Copying Them Subtly Will Help
Scientists call this the “Chameleon Effect.” What this means is that if you mimic someone’s body language, they’re more likely to be agreeable towards you. If someone slouches, you might want to share their terrible posture for the few minutes in which you’re trying to persuade them. If someone nods their head in a particular way when talking, you might want to do the same if you want them to agree to whatever it is you’re asking of them.
According to researchers, we tend to like people who have similar facial expressions, mannerisms, and posture to our own. But it’s probably worth pointing out that this all happens on a subconscious level. It only really works if people aren’t aware that they’re being mimicked. So keep your copycat routine on the subtle side – otherwise they might think you’re making fun of them!
Don’t Get Caught Rambling
When you think about it, this one makes a ton of sense. How many times have you been overloaded with information by someone, and the more they say the less you seem to like what they’re saying? It’s easy to get caught rambling, especially when you’re desperate and really need something from someone. But when it comes to the art of persuasion, less is more. Instead of listing all of the various reasons why you’re right and they’re wrong, focus on one or two main points at the most. One good reason is ideal.
A 2012 study at Dartmouth University determined that people were more likely to donate money to charity if they were given one good reason to hand over the cash. When told that they should donate because it’s for a good cause and it will make them feel better about themselves, they were less likely to donate. If they were simply told one good reason to donate, they gave significantly more.
Start Small, And Work Your Way Up
This is referred to by some as the “Foot In The Door Technique.” Once you’re in, you’re in. What that means is that once you’ve got someone to start doing favors for you, they’re more likely to continue doing favors for you, regardless of how big those favors get. Start small, and work your way up – Perhaps with an innocent request like asking the time of day, or asking for a quarter to pay for parking. As soon as someone agrees to doing a tiny favor for you, they’ve entered your world. And as researchers have discovered, it’s then very hard for them to back out.
Using this technique, you can gradually work your way up to asking people for very large favors. Before they know it, they’re letting you borrow their car and looking after your pets while you’re on vacation. When someone agrees to do a favor for you, however small, they feel not only joy from helping someone else, but also a sense of familiarity. Even if confronted with a massive request to do something they don’t want to do, it will be very hard for them to say no. They’re already committed to helping you. Strangely, people who have done favors for you in the past will feel more guilt upon rejecting you than those who’ve never done a favor for you in the past.
Use Their Official Name And Title
People skilled in the arts of persuasion love to use the names of those they are trying to persuade. And the reasons for this are pretty simple. People in general love to hear their own names. It makes them feel respected. And when you use someone’s name, you make them feel like they’re not just a means to an end. Instead, the interaction becomes a personalized, intimate and friendly affair. It’s also a really good idea to use their proper title – like Mr., Mrs., Dr., Professor, and so on. Again, it really makes them feel respected.
Human beings value status very highly. It’s very easy to tell when you’re being spoken down to, and people do not enjoy this. Instead, they like to feel as though they are the ones in control. You can use this to your advantage by using their names and their titles as a mark of respect. Instead of feeling like they are being forced into doing something they don’t want to do, they feel like they are the ones who are in control, and that will instantly make them more easily persuaded. Just don’t say their name too often, or they might begin to feel ridiculed and patronized!
In our minds, the stereotypical image we have of a salesperson is a wiry, fast talker loaded with too much caffeine. And there’s a really good reason for that. Speaking quickly actually gets results. We previously mentioned that you shouldn’t ramble on and give too many reasons as to why someone should agree with you. Speaking quickly is not the same as rambling, however. The key here is to speak as quickly as possible, getting your main points across in a speedy and efficient manner.
The science behind this is actually pretty interesting. According to a 1991 study, people were much better at persuading others when they spoke quickly. When you speak in a speedy manner to someone, their ability to form a coherent rebuttal is extremely impeded. They will have less time to process what you’re saying, and in the end, they’ll be much more likely to agree with you.
A classic bargaining technique that almost everyone is familiar with is pretty simple. Start big, and slowly back down from your original demand. Once you have lowered your demands enough, you’ll be left with a request which will seem pretty reasonable to the person you’re talking to. They will feel like they’ve “won” the haggling war, because what you asked for in the beginning was so much more than what they eventually give you. But here’s the secret that any good merchant knows – what you asked for at the beginning was way more than what you wanted or needed.
It’s always a good tactic to ask for much, much more than what you actually want. What you will be left with, after much haggling, is a “compromise” which is exactly what you wanted in the first place! So how does this work in the world of psychology? It’s known as a concept called “Contrasting.” Basically, the human brain sees things in relative terms. If you start out asking for $100, but later “settle” for $20, the person who has the money will see themselves as saving $80. What these people generally don’t realize is that IF they were asked for $20 to begin with, they probably would have said no. You shift their attention so that it’s no longer a choice between giving you $0 and $20, but a choice between giving you $100 and $20.
This is also known as the “Goebbels Approach,” and for a very good reason. Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Germans during WWII, and he understood how to convince the people of the lies he was selling them better than some of the most skilled “spin doctors” of all time. His theory was simple: If you tell a lie often enough, and keep repeating it no matter what, people will start to believe it. And you know what? It worked.
Just look at any commercial or advertisement and you’ll see this method in action. If you see the same products being linked with certain ideas often enough, you’ll really start to believe some ridiculous things. Red Bull gives you wings. Pepsi can make protests peaceful. Certain colognes will make women love you. All of these ideas are completely ridiculous, but because we’ve been been exposed to them so much, we begin to slowly accept them. So when you’re trying to convince someone of something – never give up! Continue to repeat your opinion, over and over again. The best part? You don’t even have to be right for this to work!
Wait Till The Person Is Tired
This is definitely one of the most amusing “mind tricks” in this article. But’s it’s also a technique that is based in real, hard science. When people get tired, their minds obviously get much less alert. And a side-effect of this is that they lose some of their ability to think critically. This might seem pretty obvious, but just think about how you can use this to your advantage. People who can’t think critically will be pretty much unable to poke holes in your arguments, even if what you’re saying makes absolutely no sense!
A study in 2010 proved that when trying to convince someone of something or persuade them into doing something it’s best to talk to them when you know for a fact that they’re tired. You can implement this in many ways, but the most obvious approach is to confront them at the end of a heavy work day, rather than in the morning (after they’ve had their second cup of coffee). Basically, people don’t have the energy to argue when they’re tired.
Remind The Person Of How They Benefit
A 2015 study exposed a persuasion tactic that Business Insider called “A Linguistic Trick That Will Help You Negotiate Anything.” And they’re not exaggerating. The study revealed that it’s incredibly important how we phrase things, and it might actually have a positive effect no matter what we’re asking for. As a general rule, you always want to phrase things in terms of what you’re offering the person, not what you’re taking from them.
They should always feel like they’re the ones winning, not the ones losing. Always start with your end of the bargain. What you “offer” them. Instead of starting with a request or a persuasion tactic, begin with giving them something. Offer your end of the deal first. Then, when you’ve got their interest, ask for what you want in return. A simple example would be: Instead of demanding that someone help you with your project, offer to help them with their presentation before asking for help where you need it.
You’d be amazed what a few simple things can do when trying to persuade someone. As with any important undertaking, the key is in the preparation. The more you do to plan out how you’re going to convince someone or persuade them, the more success you will have in the long run. So what kind of psychology tricks can you use to help you prepare? Well, one example is Priming. Simply put, Priming is doing everything you can to help that person come to a decision – without them even realizing it.
You’re basically setting them up to make a decision. Usually, this is done by surrounding people with things that remind them of a particular decision you wish to make. Researchers found that people were much more likely to give people money if they were surrounded with things that reminded them of finance and money, like briefcases and checkbooks. So when trying to convince someone of something, make sure you pick your surroundings and setting accordingly. But it can’t be too obvious – the person must not be aware of what you’re trying to do, as Priming must happen on a subconscious level. There are many examples of Priming, and you can use your imagination to use this to your advantage. The most advanced people in the art or persuasion will repeat certain words to plant ideas in people’s brains.
You’ve probably seen this trick used all the time in the realm of advertising and sales. “Act now before it’s too late!” “Limited quantity only!” “Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!” All of these slogans are examples of Sensationalism. This is a technique where someone is made to feel like there is a huge amount of urgency, and that if they hesitate, they’ll miss out on something rare or valuable. Nine times out of ten, they’re not actually running out of whatever they’re selling, but they know that if you believe that what they have is in short supply, you’ll be more likely to buy.
So how can you use this sales technique to your advantage when you’re trying to convince or persuade others? If you use your imagination, you can come up with some pretty good ways to implement sensationalism. You could persuade someone to go on vacation with you because “It’s going to be a record-breaking summer in Mexico this year.” You could persuade someone that they’re working too hard because “They should be enjoying being in their twenties before it’s all over.”
Make Sure That There Are People Watching
Now, this only works when you’re trying to persuade or convince people to do the right thing, but why would you try convince people to do bad things anyway? We hope that that majority of you reading this article will use this psychological “mind tricks” for the power of good, not evil… And if your heart is in the right place, then this technique will work wonders for you. A study conducted in 2011 found that people who were shown pictures of flowers are more likely to clean up after themselves (or in broader terms, “do the right thing”) than if they were shown pictures of flowers.
The eyes represent social scrutiny. If people feel like they’re being watched, they’re more likely to do what is considered “ethical.” So the next time you ask a friend to stop stealing your fries, do it in front of a crowd of other people! People generally want to do the right thing, but they’re more likely to agree to it if they feel like they’re being observed and judged by society at large. Keep this in mind when you’re convincing people to “do the right thing!”
Choose Your Words Carefully
We could probably write an entire article about all the different words you can use to effectively convince and persuade people. Obviously, some words are better than others, and there are words you should use and words you should stay away from. Let’s start with big, complicated words. When we use special lingo that people might not understand, they think their intelligence is being challenged. Even if you’re trying to sell a spaceship to someone, you probably don’t want to be talking about the continuum transfunctioner and the plasma drives. Instead, talk about it in more general, easier to understand terms.
Generally speaking, nouns have a positive effect when compared to verbs. So instead of asking people whether they want to “help” you, tell them instead how much you need them as a “helper.” People who have written about this theorize that it helps people feel like they belong to a group. It should also be obvious that polite expressions such as please and thank you go a long way when trying to persuade others. In addition, certain words are associated with negative emotions, while others are associated with positive thoughts. So choose your words carefully!
Get Your Friends To Agree With You
This is known by many terms in the world of psychology, but some call it the Bandwagon Effect. People are much more likely to share an opinion if they see that it’s the most commonly held one. The interesting thing about this is that the commonly held belief isn’t always the correct one. For instance, for the longest time people thought the world was flat. No one believed Galileo when he claimed the Earth was round, because it wasn’t the commonly held belief. You can use this “hivemind mentality” to your advantage when trying to persuade others.
A great example today is the rise of viral trends. People tend to do things because others are also doing it. And with the advent of social media and the internet, it’s easier than ever to spread ideas and narratives. All it takes is enough people saying, “I hate this celebrity,” or “This movie was terrible,” and literally everyone starts repeating that opinion. You can use this to your advantage. Get your friends to agree with you on social media, and make sure that person who you’re trying to convince sees it!
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