Researchers have been studying the factors that influence us to say yes to the request of others for over 60 years and there can be no doubt there is a science on how we can be persuaded.
A lot of the science is surprising. When making a decision, it would be nice to think that people consider all the available information in order to guide their thinking, but the reality is very often different.
In this increasingly overloaded life, we need shortcuts more than ever, or the rule of thumb to guide our decision-making.
And there are six of these shortcuts that are universal that guide human behavior.
Reciprocity simply refers to the obligation to give back when you receive something from someone. For example, when your friend invited you to his party, there is a high chance that you will return the favor by inviting him or her to your party in the future.
A study has been conducted in a restaurant and it shows that when a waiter or a waitress include a mint as a simple gift when presenting the bill, the tip given by customers increased by 3%. Interestingly, when the researchers double the gift by giving away two mints, the tip does not double, instead, it quadruples, or a 14% increased.
What is even more interesting is that if the mint is given to the customers at their table and then the waiter walk away, pauses turns back and says, “For you nice people, here is an extra mint.” The tip will go through the roof. The study showed that if the waiter did so, the tip increase 23%.
Thus, the key to using the principle of reciprocation is to be the first to give and to ensure what you give is personalized and unexpected.
The second principle of the science of persuasion is scarcity, which means that people want more of the things that they have less. In 2003, when the British Airlines cut their Concorde flights from London to New York, sales the very next day went through the roof. Notice that nothing has been changed here. It has become a scarcity resource and people wanted more of it.
When it comes to effectively persuading others using the scarcity principle, the science is clear, it is not enough to simply tell people about the benefits that you are going to offer, you will also need to point out what is unique about your offer. More importantly, your offer needs to show people what they are about to lose out if they miss it. This will create the scarcity factor and people will want more of what you have to offer.
The third principle of influencing others is called the authority. People follow credible experts. Physiotherapist found that their patients are more likely to follow the exercise programs recommended by them if they display their medical diplomas on the wall.
People are more likely to give change for a parking meter to a complete stranger if that request wears uniform rather than normal clothes. What the science is telling us is that it is important to signal to others what makes you a credible knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt.
Of course, you cannot simply go around telling customers how brilliant you are, but you can arrange someone to do it for you. Anyone who does the introduction can increase your chances of influence. It is found that real estate agents are able to increase their numbers of appointments and signed a contract when they arrange a receptionist to answer calls from customers.
People like to be consistent with the things that they have previously said or done. Consistency is activated by looking for and asking for small initial commitments that can be made.
In one famous set of study, researchers found that many people are not willing to put up a small signboard in front of their house to promote safe driving. On another neighborhood, more than four times the people who are willing to put up the “drive safe” board on their front lawn. What happened was that ten days ago, these people agreed to place a small postcard on their front window to show their support for the campaign.
So when seeking to influence using the consistency principle, you must include a voluntary, active and a public commitment to get better results. More importantly, get people to write down their commitment. Another study found that when a doctor required their patients to write down the appointment date and time, the number of missed appointments reduced by 18%.
The fifth factor that influences people in their decision-making is that people are more likely to say yes to people they like. This is obvious, but what makes people like each other? There are three factors.
First, people like other people who are similar to them. Second, people like those who will give them compliments, and finally, people also like those who will cooperate with them.
In a negotiation study carried between MBA students, a group of students was told that time was money and they need to get straight down to business to negotiate the deal. On the other hand, another group of students was told to exchange personal information and to identify their similarities before they negotiate and talk about the deal.
The result of the study showed that the second group of students or those who were told to exchange personal information came to a 90% successful agreement in the negotiation. Hence, to use this principle, try to look for similarity and compliments others before you persuade them into doing what you want them to do.
In this final principle, people will look to the actions of others to determine their own. For example, if you get into the bathroom inside a hotel, you will see a card suggesting you use their towels. This act to reuse the towel from the hotel is to encourage environmental protection.
A study has been conducted and found that 35% of the people will comply and reuse the towel. And if someone stayed longer than four nights or longer, the percentage increased to 75%. What was interesting was that when the researchers include the message saying that 75% of the hotel guests reuse their towels, the towel reuse increased by 26%.
This simply shows that people want to be like others. Changing just a few simple words can greatly influence people in their decision-making. Therefore, the science of persuasion is telling us that rather than relying on our own ability to influence others, you can point out others who are already doing it and use this fact to influence others.