A little romance and fear in a manager’s life


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In their book “Yes! 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive“, Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. martin and Robert B. Cialdini describe the six principals of persuasion: 

  1. Reciprocation – we feel obligated to return favours performed for us.
  2. Authority – We look for experts to show us the way.
  3. Commitment / Consistency – we want to act consistently with our commitments and values
  4. Scarcity – the less available the resource, the more we want it.
  5. Liking – the more we like people, the more we want to yes to them.
  6. Social proof – we look to what others do to guide our behaviour.

In a recent article in the May issue of the “Inside Influence Report” called: “Follow The Crowd? Or Go It Alone?” Steve Martin describes a new experiment aimed to test the effects emotions have on the Scarcity and Social Proof principals, especially fear and romance. The claim is that potentially, experiencing great fear or a romance just before being persuaded using either Scarcity or Social Proof can increase the effectiveness of the persuasion effort. They found that there is relationship between the four, but not equal. This is how they summarized the findings:

In summary, the study showed that fear can lead to messages using social proof as potentially being more persuasive than messages that use scarcity information. However feelings of romance would cause the opposite to be the case

This got me thinking on the importance of communication for managers and leaders. I wrote on this subject a number of times before, communicating accurately, is one of the biggest challenges of managers and leaders. Thus, every tip we can get could be important.

By now you are probably asking what does that have to do with us? Fear? Romance? All very nice and dandy, but not very practical. I beg to differ.

First, I urge you to read the last paragraph of the article. Describing different implications for marketers, salespeople and managers.

Second, I want to remind you that a great deal of what managers and leaders do is tell a story. For example, there is no doubt that the story being told today, in the midst of the global financial crisis is one of fear. But after that story, or together with that story, we want to motivate and persuade to action. Knowing which persuasion tactic to employ is crucial, if we want to be able to influence our employees and followers.


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