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We give you actionable advice so you can elevate your influence through purposeful negotiation—helping you overcome the hurdles you face in business and life to become even more successful.
Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast ! We are excited to have Brian Ahearn on the show today to talk about the art and science of influencing people. An international trainer, TEDx presenter, and consultant, Brian is one of only 20 individuals in the world with a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer accreditation. Impressively, his book “ Influence People: Powerful Everyday Opportunities To Persuade That Are Lasting And Ethical ”, was named in the top 100 list of books on influence by Book Authority.
Brian’s career initially started in the insurance industry, where he worked as an underwriter who analyzed risks. He had very little interest in the sales side of insurance, which he felt made little difference as people almost always wanted the lowest price possible. But after changing companies, Brian became more involved with the sales department at State Auto Insurance and began to see how a salesperson’s behaviors made a difference in people’s responses. It was around this time that he was introduced to the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini and the psychology of selling.
Following Dr. Cialdini’s methods, Brian saw dramatic results in the sales team’s performance. A series of fortuitous events led him to meet Dr. Cialdini and get his certification in 2008. He gained insights into how real people process information, moving away from text-based information exchange and into visual learning. From then on, there was no looking back. Brian knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his career, so he left the corporate world and founded Influence PEOPLE .
Aristotle defined persuasion as the “art of getting someone to do something that they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask”. Normally, this entails figuring out a mode of communication that gets the counterpart to do what you need them to do. In reality, however, people often don’t care about how their counterpart thinks or feels as long as the task at hand gets done. That’s why Brian leans on social psychology and uses persuasion as a way to bring about behavior change.
Dr. Cialdini’s Principles Of Persuasion describe how people typically think and behave when they encounter decisions relating to purchasing and consumption. The first principle, reciprocity, is so powerful because human beings are innately social and can accomplish more when working together than apart. Deep in our minds, we know that if we receive help first, it’s in our best interest to reciprocate and maintain a positive relationship.
Here, Brain draws a distinction between reciprocity and a reward mentality trap that many fall prey to. While rewards are a contractual relationship characterized by a commodity transfer or service in exchange for compensation (“If you do A, I’ll do B”), reciprocity is a feeling of obligation that gets a counterpart to say yes (“I have done A, will you do B for me please?”). There is no force or coercion applied to get a counterpart to comply, allowing for a better relationship in the future.
As humans, we naturally gravitate towards those we like. In the professional world, however, people spend a lot of time and effort trying to get others to like them. For Brian, more effective use of their time would be for people to start finding things that they genuinely like about their peers. He refers to this tactic as a “virtuous cycle”, where once you’re perceived as a thoughtful, caring individual with the counterpart’s best interests at heart, that counterpart is now more willing to appreciate your qualities.
In Aram and Nolan’s line of work, this phenomenon is called “finding commonalities with regards to interest”. But a challenge in negotiations theory is handling cultural differences or biases and prejudices that stand in the way of commonalities. Brian’s solution to that problem is to ask more questions and be genuine with those questions. Giving a person space to express themselves creates trust, and helps them be more comfortable. Equally important is being non-judgemental and approaching a conversation with curiosity. Of course, if an individual is uncomfortable or not in a sharing frame of mind, it’s best to leave them be. Leading back to the persuasion piece, the best results can be found in social interactions when the counterpart doesn’t feel obligated.
Once a mutual liking has been established, it’s much easier to listen to the counterpart and not compete with them for an opportunity to speak. In Nolan’s experience, young leaders often struggle with this part as they’re too caught up in formulating the next great question rather than truly listening to the answer. Brian’s fix for that is practicing authenticity. In sales, people learn scripts and give prepared, robotic answers. Brian’s method is natural and conversational, and he takes time to prepare so that his responses come from within.
Ethically influencing an individual requires them to understand that you have expertise in your given field and that it’s in their best interest to defer to you. This can be as simple as providing a speaker’s bio and having a third party introduce you and your credentials. For someone new to an organization, they can turn to a superior and have them send an introductory email or engage personally with the team members the person isn’t familiar with.
Apart from expertise, trustworthiness is the other defining factor for establishing authority. Admitting weaknesses, and using that as a segue to something more positive about you is a strategy that Brian professes.
Consensus and social proof involve us being impacted by other’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Ethical influencers have to walk the fine line between strategically influencing someone on one side, and making them feel like sheep for getting on the bandwagon. In the end, it becomes a question of framing and using common goals to get the right motivation for someone to do the right thing.
Aram, Nolan and Brian Ahearn go into much greater detail on the Principles Of Persuasion on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know, how do you ethically influence people in your professional life?
Thank you for listening.
Nolan Martin : Hello, and welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I am your co-host and co-founder Nolan Martin. With me today is my good friend as always Aram, Aram how are you doing today, sir?
Aram Donigian : I'm great. Beautiful summer day.
NM : Absolutely. Now I am excited to start talking about the principles of persuasion with our guest today. So why don't you go ahead and introduce them for us, Aram.
AD : Absolutely Nolan, thanks. Hey folks, today we're joined by Brian Ahearn, chief influence officer at Influence PEOPLE. Brian is an international trainer, TEDx presenter and consultant, and specializes in applying the science of influence in everyday business solutions. Brian spent more than 30 years in the insurance industry and is one of only 20 individuals in the world who currently owns the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer designation. Brian's book “Influence People: Powerful Everyday Opportunities To Persuade That Are Lasting and Ethical” was named one of the top 100 influence books of all time by Book Authority. Brian, it is an honor and privilege to welcome you and have you join us today.
Brian Ahearn : Hey, it's my pleasure. As I told you, this is my favorite subject to talk about next to my family.
NM : Well, Brian, whenever we introduce a guest, we'd typically like to start to first uncover the journey of how you got to become a negotiator, both professionally and personally. So, I guess let's kick it off with that- how did you get to where you are today?
BA : I started my career in the insurance industry as an underwriter, which is a very analytical kind of black-and-white role as you're analyzing risks. And we were almost taught that the only thing insurance agents cared about was price. And I really thought that all that sales stuff was BS. I just thought it was fluff. It made no difference. They just wanted the lowest price they could get. And then I changed companies. I was over at a company called State Auto Insurance, got involved in the sales department, started learning from a guy who was a great salesperson and really began to see that, wow, what we say and how we say it can make a big difference in terms of how people respond. And then I happened to come across the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini about 20 years ago. And for me, when I saw this video of him presenting at Stanford, the light bulb came on. Because I thought, holy cow, the psychology that he's talking about is the underpinning of all selling.
It's why certain approaches work, certain approaches don't. I love the fact that it was based on research. It wasn't just someone's good advice. And I really liked his stance on how you can do it ethically. And that was a pivotal point for me because once I started utilizing his information to help the sales team, we saw dramatic results. And the more I went along with it, through a series of events, ended up meeting Dr. Cialdini, got certified by him back in 2008. And I knew it's what I was gonna do with the rest of my career. And that entailed leaving the corporate world about three and a half years ago to do Influence PEOPLE full time.
NM : That's great. And thank you for kinda sharing your journey there. Guess the question the follow up to this is, you know, were there any major, I mean, obviously you mentioned the Cialdini training that you received in certification. Were there any other key development milestones that you achieved in kind of to get you to the point that you are now?
BA : Well, I will say that one of the things that was a huge impact on my ability to deliver the messages, came when I really began to understand how people think and process information and moving away from that text-driven bullet point full of slides and went picture-driven and really began to engage people via stories and things like that. And so, you know, my, my mission is to help people take this information, utilize it to enjoy more success and happiness. So that's critical for me to be able to do that with them.
AD : Hey Brian, can you maybe say a little bit more, and I know some of this comes from your book, but also kind of what you're hinting at right now, which is this definition of persuasion and how we use it and how we can help people use it more effectively. What can you say a little bit more about how you define it and everything?
BA : Sure. That's one of those words that if I asked a dozen people I'd get a dozen, slightly different answers and most people would say, “well, to change how somebody thinks or feels about something”. I like Aristotle's definition. And Aristotle said that persuasion was the art of getting someone to do something that they wouldn't ordinarily do if you didn't ask. And when you think about that, it's a great definition. Someone's not doing something that you need them to do. How might you communicate with them to make that happen? If we change how they think or feel about it, that can be icing on the cake. But you know, the reality is sometimes we don't care how somebody thinks or feels about something. We just need them to do it. So for me, persuasion is about behavior change. What can we say or do to make that happen? And what I do is I lean on the research from social psychology, primarily Dr. Robert Cialdini- looking at these principles of influence that are universal across the world, in terms of people responding to them.
AD : Can you say a little bit more about those principles, please?
BA : Sure. Principle, these principles of persuasion, describe how people typically think and behave when they encounter the psychology. So for example, reciprocity is one principle of persuasion. Reciprocity is the natural feeling of obligation that we have to give back or to do something for someone who has done it for us first and social psychologists are in agreement that every human society around the world raises its people in the way of reciprocity. We have just learned over the course of human existence, that we can get more accomplished together than we can apart. And that if you help me, it's probably in my interest to help you so that we keep this positive relationship going. So where people can struggle with that, you know, I can explain it and they're like, “oh, I get it” and then they fall into a reward mentality. And rewards are different than reciprocity.
Rewards I characterize as: “if you, I will”. “If you do A, I'll do B, if you hit this metric, I'll give you a sales bonus”. Reciprocity is “I have, will you?” “I have done this thing. I have done A, would you do B for me, please?” And that feeling of obligation sometimes gets you to say yes. “Yeah, I'd be happy to do that”. So it's not a contractual relationship, but it actually can be a relationship builder because you don't feel forced or coerced into doing something. I've done something for you. You feel this obligation, you do something for me. And we both benefited from the transaction.
AD : Brian, is there a fear on reciprocity? Is there a fear going first to take that risk of stepping out? And as you teach this all over the world, I mean, do people say, “oh, Brian, it's a great idea, but I don't wanna be the first one to go there”.
BA : Absolutely people are afraid that they'll do something and not get something in return. And I tell them, first of all, these principles are not a magic wand. They will not get everybody to do what you want all the time. I don't get what I want all the time, but I know I get what I want a lot more because I understand how people think and behave. And I look to thoughtfully and ethically apply these principles to those communications. The interesting thing about reciprocity though, is sometimes you don't have to give nearly as much to get some kind of favor in return. So as an example, in our two-day workshop, we talk about a bit of research where a survey was sent out to construction companies and they wanted to see if they could get construction companies to fill out the survey. In one instance, they offered them a $50 reward.
If you fill out the survey and send it back, we WILL send you a $50 check. The other group was told, they were given a $5 check upfront and said, we understand that your time is valuable. We hope you'll take a moment to take the survey. So you have 10 times more reward than the reciprocity. But what they found was only 23% of the people who are offered the $50 or the $50 reward took the survey. But 52% of the people who were given the $5 check upfront, took the survey. And if you do the math, even if everybody had cashed that check, even the ones who didn't take the survey, they still saved at least 55%, potentially as much as 75%, depending on how many people cashed it. So you doubled your response and you basically cut your cost in half or more.
AD : Yeah, I love that. So it's not even as much about the substance as it is about the process, the action of leading and engaging in this ethical, constructive way and, and reciprocating on some of that.
BA : Absolutely! Most people's processing of information happens at the subconscious level. So, you know, if you put a sticky note on a letter that you're mailing out, somebody's probably not going, “oh, Aram put a yellow sticky note on that. I should respond”, but subconsciously we recognize people have done something a little bit more, and so we do a little bit more in return. So what we're looking at is something that can sometimes be very subtle, but can actually get a very big return.
NM : Now, Brian, in your book influenced people. And first off really appreciate when the author reads their own Audible book, cuz I'm an Audible guy, Aram is the book guy, but you did a great job with reading your book. I know it's not always a good fit for all authors, but I just wanna say that you did a great job. Anyone who is trying to learn more about this, please check out the book that Brian wrote. Audible also recommended, but let's get to principle number two, which is Liking. Tell us a little bit more about that one.
BA : So liking says that it's natural for us to say yes to those that we know and like. Everybody gets that right? I mean, nobody on a Friday night picks up the phone and says, “who do I not like? I would've called them and go out”. We tend to want to be around and do things with, and for people that we like, so everybody gets it. But what people fail to do is employ the principle in a way that's most powerful. See, most people will spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get people to like them assuming that, “oh, well, if you like me, Nolan, you will be more inclined to do what I want”. And that's true, but there's a much more effective way. And that's for me to do everything I can to come to like you Nolan. So if I'm looking at what we have in common and if I can find things I can genuinely compliment, I'm convincing myself what a good guy you are.
I'm starting to like you. And you can sense that with all of your perceptions, you can sense who really likes you. And when you begin to see, “Hey, Brian likes me and he seems to care for me”, you're much more open to whatever I might ask of you because you believe that, Hey, Brian's gonna do right by me. But because I have come to know, and like you, I do want your best. And, and I call it a virtuous cycle where, because I've come to know and like you, I'm always putting forth what I believe is in your best interest. And that's how you're receiving it.
NM : Let me kick this over to Aram, so if we take that principle of liking and I think if we apply it to the relationships model that we use, are you able to make that connection there, uh, between the two models Aram?
AD : Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's, it's certainly finding commonalities with regards to interest. I also, what, what I heard Brian say was, you know, there's an effort and it starts with me rather than starting with them. I, I wanted to dig in, you know, Brian's so much you, we talk about cross-cultural as this, it's some sort of, I dunno, supernatural thing, but truth is between regions of the US, between different companies, there's cross-cultural dynamics. How do you apply liking when there are, you know, maybe surface level cross cultural differences or maybe more deeply held biases and prejudices? How do you try to coach folks to kind of use this principle?
BA : Well, the thing that I rely on the most is just to ask questions and to try to be very genuine in asking those questions. You know, I talk to a lot of Uber drivers and it seems like the majority that I encounter have come to this country at some point. And so I will ask them questions and I'll say, “Look I'm curious since I know that you're from Egypt, how long you've been here?” And then we start talking about that. And I said, “I wanna ask you some questions and you will not offend me. I just really wanna know what you think about”. And it could be a whole variety of things. And I really think that people at that point start opening up. They feel I'm giving them space. I'm promising them that I'm not here to judge. I just wanna understand.
And usually it's like, what is the mindset or the view of this country from people who are coming in from outside. And I end up having amazing conversations. So I think creating a safe space by asking questions, giving permission. I've had one driver who really didn't want to talk and when I sensed that I just didn't keep engaging on it. But most of them, I find most people want to be known. They want to share who they are and what they think. And when you give them the safe space to do it, you'll be amazed at the conversations that you can have.
AD : Well Brian, I have the same experience. I like talking to Uber drivers too. And I've had one person who pushed back and who did not like the questions and referred to me as an American Cowboy with, my kind of aggressive, I guess, what was perceived as aggressive. I didn't mean for, you know, series of kind of questions and inquiry that I like, how you frame it, kind of giving space, as soon as I recognize it, obviously I backed off. But yeah, usually though my experiences are like yours. They're pretty positive too.
BA : Well, the one experience that really set the course for me happened many, many years ago, in fact, probably many decades ago. And I worked for an insurance company and I had bumped into somebody in the Nashville airport, someone I worked with, but she really didn't know me very well. So we were on a Southwest flight. We sat next to each other. And as soon as the flight took off, I turned to her and I said, I'm gonna ask you a question and if you're not comfortable answering it, please don't feel obligated to, but what is it like to be a black woman who works at our company? Now, this was decades before all the strife that we're going through now. She didn't stop talking for the whole 45 minutes. She never would've brought it up, but because I gave a safe space to do that, and I was nonjudgmental, she just, you know, really shared her heart. And I have found that that is an approach that works almost every time. You know, I wanna ask you a question. If you're not comfortable, please feel free. You don't need to answer, but I'm curious and then you state what it is you want to be informed about.
AD : Yeah. And that's what I was gonna comment, you also seem to demonstrate genuine curiosity. I don't see that demonstrated all the time. I feel like you have to coach folks sometimes, you know, the, I dunno if you've seen Ted Lasso, Brian, but the, you know, the, the heard open quote about, “Get curious, not judge…”,
BA : I’ve heard about it.
AD : Oh, you need to watch Ted Lasso, big fan, big fan! But he says, you know, “Get curious, not judgemental” and that openness. Right? How do you coach folks to ask better questions and then to really listen? Cause it seems obvious, but I don't think it's as obvious as we make it out to be.
BA : I really think that if, if we go back to the beginning and, and we really are hammering home liking and how important that is, that when you really do start coming to know somebody, you want to get to know them and you become more curious and it's easier for you, I think, to listen to them rather than feeling like you're competing for air time and you've gotta get your say in. When you begin to understand the principles of reciprocity, the more I get to know, and like you, the more informed I can be in my giving that becomes more genuine, but I also feel more comfortable to maybe say something like, “Hey Nolan, could I take a couple minutes to share with you my perspective on this?” So even if I ask the question and you share, and I'm not sensing that you're getting it and asking back, I can step into that space and ask, and most people are gonna probably be like, “oh, absolutely, go ahead”. So I can still engage the reciprocity, even though they haven't been the first person to act there.
NM : One of the things I think is key in all this is- I'm very junior in my career as to you two so I'm able to kinda look at this with a different lens. And I think that just until recently, I haven’t been able to do the active listening; where maybe in the first part of my career is always about frame- like trying to think of that great question to ask, but then I don't think I'd fully listen to the answer because I'd be trying to develop the next question. And so I think as a junior leader, something to think about there is really hammering down on the active listening part of what you're talking about.
AD : And I, I I'll build off that too Nolan. And I just ask for a question for Brian. So, you know, working with sales folks, I have students that'll come in that have been in sales for so long. And the thought is, well, you never ask a question you don't already know the answer to. But that doesn't sound like that's what you're saying. You're saying that sometimes it's okay to maybe be surprised to learn something you didn't know.
BA : Yeah. You can't possibly know the answer to everything. And there are gonna be answers that come at you that you haven't heard before. But the good thing is the longer you do it, the less those happen. And, and I always tell people that in sales, most sales people don't like objections. They would love to just talk and close the sale, but the reality is it's gonna happen. But the good news is the longer you've been in it, there's probably not an objection that you haven't heard. So nothing's coming outta left field. And then the second thing is you can practice, you can start saying, okay, if that comes up, how am I gonna do this? And I practice out loud in the car if I'm out in the walk for a walk in the morning. But I want, when I deal with some kind of concern or objection, or if I'm, you know, just on a podcast talking like this, I want what I'm saying to come from within me. So that it's natural and it's conversational. And it's authentic to Brian Ahearn. I don't want people to learn a script and all walk around like robots and say the same thing. You're like, oh, okay. You just were in a sales class. Right. It's got to be, you've gotta take it in, understand it and then make it your own.
AD : Yeah, there is a little bit of that that goes on.
NM : All right, Brian, let's talk about principle number three, authority.
BA : Okay. Authority tells us that people will naturally defer to others when they're making decisions when that other person has expertise or they're known to be very wise. So the challenge for us as ethical influencers is to make sure that the people that we interact with understand that we have expertise. Now, you guys display this every time you have a podcast guest on, right? You read a bio. Otherwise people would be, well, who's this person? Why do I wanna listen to this episode? But if the topic is of interest to them, and then they say, wow, this person seems to have expertise. Now it's always incumbent upon me to make sure that they understand that that's why I supply a bio to you guys. And I do another podcast, or if I get up to speak in front of a group, and I'm very intentional about what I make sure is being shared so that it will resonate most with that audience. All of your listeners need to do that. When they go into a negotiation situation, if the other person knows nothing about them, they could be one of the best negotiators in the world, but that's not gonna necessarily help them as much as it could if they had their credentials out in front of them. So getting that out there and via third party is always best because like, you guys could say something about me that if I say it for myself, it might sound like I'm bragging, but coming from you, it's perfectly natural.
AD : So how do you help somebody who's new to an organization trying to influence internally? They're just getting their feet underneath them, or maybe somebody who is negotiating procurement arrangement, brand new to the spot. And again, is trying to still building that expertise. How can you build that if you don't just naturally have it, like they don't have the robust bio you have?
BA : You can still turn to somebody above you in the organization. So maybe if you're a new employee and you're gonna go into this meeting and it's the first time you're gonna lead a small project, you can turn to your boss and say, He, boss, it would really be helpful if these dozen people who are gonna be in the meeting, understood a little bit more about me. Now, you may not have like the five or 10 years of experience, but you may have been hired in because you were an honors student or something like that. You may be volunteering. You may be involved with Rotary or Kiwanis or something like that. But you need to look at the breadth of who you are and try to take some of that information and make it as compelling as possible. So that those people, when they get that email before the meeting and they're looking at going, wow, I didn't know that about that person, kind of interested in that. Or if you have some things on a personal level where they might say, oh, I'm into hiking too. And so you connect there and that starts to grease the wheels and make things a little bit easier. So I always tell people that, you know, a couple of paragraphs on the professional level and maybe one on the personal level to engage liking, and that can go a long way to start building some rapport with the people that you'll be leading.
AD : Yeah. And you just kinda went to it as you went to liking. And I don't wanna get ahead of ourselves cause I know Nolan's gonna kind of, you know, ask you to walk through some of these other principles too, but seems like there's a link between these, right? So if I am low on authority and I can acknowledge that, do I leverage liking a reciprocity more? And is that part of what we're kind of discussing here is kind of being aware of what I bring and don't?
BA : Absolutely. So one of the things about authority to be authority, or to be considered an authority, you have to have expertise and you have to have trustworthiness. If you're low on the expertise, you can build your trustworthiness by admitting it up front, you know? So you could go into that meeting and, and say, you know, I'm not sure how all, how well all of you know me, but I just wanna be upfront. This is the first time I'm gonna lead a group like this. And so you're kind of putting yourself out there, but you don't wanna leave it at whatever your perceived weakness is. You wanna transition with a butor however, so you might say, but it's not the first team I've ever led. Because when I was in college, I ran the university weightlifting club for three years or something like that, where you can show that you had demonstrated some leadership.
So you can admit your weakness and segue into what is still a positive about you. Certainly, if you ask people for their help, you know, if I were to say, “Aram, you know, I am new to this and I know you've got a lot of experience. Could I schedule some time with you? I would love to learn from you so that I avoid some mistakes.” Now, you're feeling like, wow, you know, he's deferring to me. And you're becoming invested in me. So strategically by doing some of that, you start getting people invested in you and liking you. And you can go so much further than most people who would just go into that meeting cold and they would try to run everything and it just won't work as well.
AD : Yeah, that's really great.
NM : Yeah and I think just kind of made me picture back to when I first joined the military as an officer and you first become a platoon leader. You have a platoon Sergeant that has 15, you know, 10 to 15 years of experience. And, and you're coming in and doing that exact same thing. It's like, Hey, just wanna let you know that I'm new here, but I'm eager to learn. And then it kind of just gives you that little bit of credibility. I've seen that myself. And I've seen that with my junior leaders that I've been able to have under me. So, sorry. I know that's a side thought there, but definitely brought back the old days there. So I'm gonna now jump into principle number four, which is consensus.
BA : Consensus, sometimes known as social proof describes the fact that because we're social creatures, we are heavily impacted by what other people are doing, what they're thinking and how they're feeling. So as an ethical influencer, trying to bring into your communication, “Hey, Nolan, other people like you: here's what they think about this. Here's what they're doing with this. Here's how they're feeling about this.” We can talk about what lots of people are doing, but it's always better if we can talk about people who are most like you. So the more I get to know you again, I come back to liking you, the more I've connected on what we have in common, I've really got to know you. I can be more thoughtful about who I will talk about. That is most like you and most people will assume that, Hey, if, if it worked for these other people, it's probably gonna work for me too. That's why we're heavily impacted by five star ratings, best seller, polls, all those kind of things. We just naturally assume if, if they're like me, then I will probably enjoy or want to do that thing too.
NM : And I think a tool that I know that we teach, and I'm not sure if you do this as well Brian, is the stakeholder mapping tool where you're basically able to, to map out everyone involved in a negotiation and then kind of figure out the links between all of them. Who's really against whatever you’re negotiating, who's for your negotiations. And you kind of figure out where you need to take the conversations who you need to talk to and get that consensus as you kind of move the, the needle to where you want to go. Aram what's kind of your experience with what Brian's talking about here?
AD : Well, I think, yeah, I mean, I think we do see exactly what Brian's talking about in terms of behaviors. My question for Brian was gonna be around innovation, doing something that's never been done before, building energy, excitement around a new idea, new product. How is there a way to use social proof and consensus in that sort of environment too?
BA : Well, I have a lot of people who push back when I talk about social proof, cuz nobody wants to feel like a Lemming like a sheep. Like they just follow everybody else. Right? And then you start pointing and then you start pointing out examples where they do right. I mean, where, you know, you see people starting to get off the highway, you assume, oh, there must be an accident. You just fall in line. There's so much that we do that we just kind of fall in line, but people do want to also feel like they're autonomous, like they're different. And so you get a little bit of pushback there. When you're doing something that is really unique, you either have to obviously build an incredible picture of the future of what things would look like with that. Or a bad picture of what things will be like without it.
So if your company is gonna move from a traditional kinda legacy approach to very high tech, that's massively disruptive. The company that I used to work for was going through that. Insurance is a very old industry, slow to change. But you had to paint a picture of if we don't do this and everybody else starts doing it- so there is some consensus there- we are going to be left behind and we may not be able to make up that ground. So that fear of loss and what will look, things look like. So those are two approaches. I'm not for fear mongering or scare tactics, but the evidence is very clear that people are much more motivated by what they could lose versus what they could gain. So if you can't paint an amazing enough picture of what the future will be, you better paint a picture of the dire consequences by staying the same, to get people to say we can't risk that. I don't want to be part of an organization that five years from now might be laying off people or closing its doors.
AD : I mean, I agree. And I like how Brian's painting it as, you know, really painting the future either for the good or for the bad. And it's, you know, I certainly find interesting that human behavior is driven more by the potential negative loss than perhaps the potential for, you know, even something better. I find that incredibly interesting.
BA : I was gonna say one example that I've always used, you know, coming outta the insurance industry and, and many industries have bonus plans for, could be dealers, reps, things like that. Insurance was like that. So Aram, let's say you were an insurance agent. I could, as a rep go out at the end of the year, towards the end of the year and say, Aram, you're so close to reaching that president circle level. And if you get there, you're gonna earn an extra $50,000 on your bonus. Now you're gonna be motivated. You might not have known that before. That's a large amount of money I've just put it in front of you. So you're focused on you will be motivated. It's a reward, but I could be much more effective if I went out and said, Aram, I just looked at the sales numbers. You're so close to getting to president circle. And if you don't get there, you're gonna lose $50,000 of your bonus. And that's gonna grip you. Like what? Well, because you're so close, your bonus is gonna be 150. But if you miss it, even by a dollar, you're gonna lose the $50,000 kicker. And that's where I'm not fear mongering, I'm honestly saying, look, there's something big on the line here. And that's where people like you will work a lot harder to avoid losing what they feel like now is theirs.
AD : Well, that's a framing skill too, the way you just framed those, those two exact same thing. Just framed it very differently. I don't know if, if we spend enough time talking to people about how you, how you frame what you are going to say when you, when you advocate. So we're talking about the skills of listening and good questioning earlier. What you just demonstrated Brian was just wonderful kind of framing when we advocate mm-hmm
BA : Thank you.
NM : Hey everyone, Nolan here. We're gonna end today's podcast right here. If you haven't already, please be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and be sure to listen to next week as we wrap up our conversation with Brian.
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