Monday 16 November 2009

Liking and the power of persuasion

People prefer to say yes to individuals they know and like. This simple rule helps to understand how Liking can create influence and how compliance professionals may emphasize certain factors and/or attributes to increase their overall attractiveness and subsequent effectiveness. Compliance practitioners may regularly use several factors.

Physical attractiveness is one feature of a person that often may help to create influence. Although it has long been suspected that physical beauty provides an advantage in social interaction, research indicates that this advantage may be greater than once supposed.

Physical attractiveness seems to engender a "halo" effect that extends to favourable impressions of other traits such as talent, kindness, and intelligence. As a result, attractive people are more persuasive both in terms of getting what they request and in changing others' attitudes

Similarity is a second factor that influences both Liking and compliance. That is, we like people who are like us and are more willing to say yes to their requests, often without much critical consideration.

Praise is another factor that produces Liking, although this can sometimes backfire when it is too transparent. But generally compliments most often enhance liking and can be used as a means to gain compliance.

Increased familiarity through repeated contact with a person or thing is yet another factor that facilitates Liking. But this holds true principally when that contact takes place under positive rather than negative circumstances. One positive circumstance that may works well is mutual and successful cooperation.

A final factor linked to Liking is often association. By associating with products or positive things, those who seek influence frequently share in a halo effect by association. Other individuals as well appear to recognise the positive effect of simply associating themselves with favourable events and distancing themselves from unfavourable ones.

A potentially effective response that reduces vulnerability to the undue influence of Liking upon decision-making requires a recognition of how Liking and its attending factors may impact our impression of someone making requests and soliciting important decisions.

That is, recognising how someone making requests may do inordinately well under certain circumstances should cause us to step back from some social interaction and objectively separate the requester from his or her offer or request. We should make decisions, commitments and offer compliance based upon the actual merits of the offer or request.

Applying the rule of liking:

- Use strategies to be liked by your prospects and clients (read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Dale Carnegie for some powerful tips or refer to the excellent summary here on this blog
- Always be positive and genuinely interested in the concerns of prospects.
- Always be fully present when communicating with clients and prospects. Never talk to a prospect on the phone while you're on the internet or reading emails.
- Listen to your client when they tell you about their interests, their family and friends. Get in the habit of remembering names, events, favourite teams or pastimes and use this information to show a genuine interest and desire to get to know your clients. This shows that you care and people naturally like those that care

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