can you learn how to presude?

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Photo by Neuibe

A few days ago I finished reading “The 7 triggers to yes – the new science behind influencing people’s decisions” by Russell H. Granger  (you can check out the book’s site here). In the last few weeks, I hit the jackpot with all the books I read and recommended them here on this blog. Unfortunately, with this book, I can’t do that. Well, it is not that it is a bad book. I just think it will be helpful to specific people.  I guess this needs a little pit of explaining…

I bought this book because its title and description led me to believe that I will learn a lot about the science behind people’s decisions. Lately, I have been reading some fascinating books about this subject (like the amazing “YES!” and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman‘s book (with co-authors) “Rationality, Fairness, Happiness”) and I wanted to know more about it. What I discovered, is that the book doesn’t actually describe the science behind people’s decisions. It only explains that there is science. If you compare this book to “YES!” which actually describes many of the experiments behind the rules for persuasion, than you discover that this book only promises explanations, but does not supply them.

Like previous books I wrote about here, this book tries to break the conventional wisdom that great arguments persuade.  To put it in general terms the book main thesis is that most of time, most of the people, don’t make decisions which are based on their intellect but make decisions based on their emotions, and then, justify them with their intellect. So, if you want to persuade, you need to use people’s emotions and not apply to their logic. The main idea in the books id derived from a statement by Dr. Richard Restak, Neuropsychologist and author of “The Secret Life of the Brain“, saying: “We are not thinking machines – we are feeling machines that think“.  The book claims, that by understanding this concept (which is based on brain research which is described shortly) and by using 7 triggers (Friendship, Authority, Consistency, Reciprocity, Contrast, Reason Why and Hope), you can become a master persuader.

The reason I cannot recommended this book to everybody is that it tries to convince the reader that anybody can be a master persuader by following the process described in the book using the 7 triggers. I was not persuaded. I just don’t believe that everybody can learn to excel at anything. I believe, like Marcus Buckingham claims in his book, “First, breaking all the rules” that people are different and there is a limit to what they can learn. I expected that a book based on brain research will take into account the fact that each of us develop mental pathways (that can actually be seen of on our brains) that create recurring behaviours. These behaviours are our talents or our strengths.  This means, that even if I used all the process described in the book, I will never be a master persuader.  This is due to the fact that I just don’t have the inherent ability to use these processes, because this ability requires a talent to communicate with people, to learn about them and then use this knowledge a talent I don’t have and that no matter how hard I try, I will never excel at.

The books tries to tell us that persuasion is a key component of many leaders describing people like Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Lee Iacocca who used their persuasion skills to accomplish great things. I think this just proves the opposite. These people had the basic talent to do it naturally without learning about the 7 triggers. If they had learned the the 7 triggers, they would have been able to enhance their abilities. People like me, who are not conversationalist, who find it hard to chit-chat with other people, who don’t naturally learn about other people, will never be able to use the concepts of the book.

So, it is not that you can’t learn anything from this book or that you can’t improve some of your persuasions skills and techniques after reading it. But, if you (or somebody you know) have great communication skills, which enable you to learn a lot of information about other people in short periods and are able to use it, this book can really make the difference. It will give you (or whoever you buy it for) the ideas, skills and triggers to transform from a natural good persuader, to a master persuader.

Elad

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