Yup, here’s one about basic principles of killer persuasion…
WARNING: use the principle you are about to learn at your own discretion, it’s entirely possible that results may vary, and I hereby expunge myself from any and all liabilities occasioned by any negative ones (you shouldn’t get negative results unless you drastically goof something up. So don’t goof something up, a’ight?).
One of my favorite principles of persuasion to teach clients is how to get by giving. For those geeks out there who actually care about technical terms, we call this principle the Law of Obligation. Obligation is a scary word for some people; it shouldn’t be, at least in the context you’re about to learn. Obligation can literally be the ace up your sleeve in life or business or in getting your kids to eat their broccoli. It’s an easy and harmless way to generate goodwill, commitment, and relationships out of thin air.
Real life example. One afternoon, while grabbing lunch at my current favorite restaurant (Bajio’s—best Mexican food in the west, check it out and tell ‘em I sent you), I stood in line next to a medium-height, goateed up, well-dressed man with a fancy Blackberry and a Jawbone in his ear. It was lunch hour so naturally the restaurant was full to the gills with people and businessmen. The man was having a conversation about a piece of real estate. Hmmm… I like real estate. He ended his conversation just as he was about to order. In two minutes I was able to get to know this man and have him like me enough to offer me free business. How? I used the Law of Obligation.
After the man ordered his meal, a Flauta Bajio, he was given two simple options—“is this to go or to stay?” He was apparently set on staying… (Tisk, tisk, choosing to stay or to go at this restaurant means the difference between a full meal and a large snack). I always get my food to go at Bajio’s. As soon as he offered his reply, I leaned forward and whispered, “That’s a great choice. You must be hungry.” Very. “Great. Wanna know how to double your rations for the same price?” What? You can do that? “Yup, if you get your food to go you’ll get almost twice as much. Watch…” He watched as they dished out servings to others who were going and staying. He watched as I got the same meal, but to go, and ended up with almost twice the ingredients on top. A smile came across his face and I winked at him. “Next time you’re going to want to get your food to go aren’t ya? You get more for your buck.” We exchanged business cards and a few laughs. We chatted a bit and he offered me a complimentary window service for free. Turns out he owned a window and glass company.
What happened here? I gave to get. Because I let the man in on my little secret, he felt subconsciously obligated to build an acquaintance and offer me something in return—in this case, a free window service and maybe some future real estate dealings. Giving to get? Yeah, it is that simple.
People have been using the Law of Obligation as a persuasive technique almost since the beginning of time. How many times have you been offered free brushes, encyclopedias, estimates, CDs, DVDs, car services, special reports, or even Hare Krishna flowers? All are given in the hopes that you will give in to your subconscious inclination to reciprocate. At the same time, it’s important that you don’t give for the sole purpose of getting. That could be manipulative. If you make that your sole purpose, the person you are trying to persuade will subconsciously pick up on it, be disgusted, and turn away. If your intentions are 100% to get, you’ll more than likely give your intentions away in your nonverbal communication. Make your major purpose be one of goodwill and service and you’ll be surprised what you get in return.
Have you ever baked cookies for the neighbors? What did they do to reciprocate? Have you ever raked the neighbor’s lawn or taken out the trash? What was the reciprocation? Or how about this: Tupperware parties. News flash: people actually throw these silly parties for the sole purpose of selling you stuff, not to hang out, or not even because they like you. They serve refreshments and give away free Tupperware or other products. Well guess what? We all know how hard it is to attend a friend’s party, eat their food, take their free gifts, and then go home without buying a single thing. We almost can’t do it and it’s so uncomfortable. Why? Obligation. To get rid of the cognitive dissonance, the subconscious psychological pressure, we order the cheapest item in the catalog. Only then do we finally feel at peace and overcome our feeling of indebtedness to the host… and we go home psychologically appeased with a useless purchase to boot.
Here’s an even better classic example. I’m sure you can relate with this one. You need a car and instead of buying one online at carsmart.com or cars.com, you brave the storm of ancient terrible salesmanship and decide to hit one of the 787 local lots. At length, you’ve negotiated back and forth with the knucklehead salesman and are getting nowhere (his being obstinate makes you want the car even more). Just as you are about to walk away he pulls out the cliché, “You know what, let me go and run this by my manager to see what we can do.” As he gets up, he says, “Hey, I’m thirsty. I’m going to grab a drink, you want one?” Yeah! Sure! Thanks so much! You say, being completely oblivious to his ridiculous tactic. He comes back with the soda and… umm… guess what else? Yup, an even better deal from his manager—a seemingly unbeatable deal. It’s not quite the deal you wanted, but for some weird, indescribable reason you feel okay with it—you feel it’s the best deal you’re going to get. So, you’re quick to accept it.
Logically, why would you EVER buy a car that wasn’t the right deal? You did. The salesdude got you with the Law of Obligation. He had you emotionally wrapped up and he knew it. He offered you a $.50 can of soda and you bought a $30,000 vehicle. Fair? No. Your fault? Yes. That can of soda created a subconscious sense of debt or obligation that you felt you needed to overcome by offering goodwill in return—i.e., buying a vehicle you didn’t want. The moral of this story is to never accept free stuff from salespersons before you’ve settled on a price. (And then after you’ve settled on a price, and taken the free soda, don’t let your guard down because he’ll sell you on three levels of insurance and warranties).
SUMMARY: give something to get. It works. Just don’t be a manipulative jerk about it, and use it to make the world a better place.