Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini

This book asserts that our choices of what to say or do immediately before making an appeal significantly affects its persuasive success. It reminds me largely of Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. You know when a book is written by a professor because more than 1/3 of this book is references.

The alarm system sales guy asks couples to take the fire safety quiz prior to selling them the alarm systems. He intentionally forgets his book in the car and says “I forgot something important in my car, and need to get it. I don’t want to interrupt the test; so would you mind if I let myself out and back into your home?”

  • Who do you let walk in and out of your house on their own? Someone you trust. The salesman wanted to be associated with trust in those families minds.

Single cutting questions can get you both to mistake and misstate your position. For example: How satisfied are. you with the brand? (Single chuting) vs. how satisfied OR dissatisfied are you with the brand? (Two-sided, and more objective results)

Framing questions:

  • Are you a helpful person? to get people to agree to help you.
  • Are you adventurous enough to consider a revolutionary model of influence? to get people to try something that’s out there.

Of course, to be fair, it must be acknowledged that experienced and discerning users are unlikely to be fooled by the offers they receive electronically. I, for instance, have been flattered to learn through repeated internet messages that many Ukrainian virgin prostitutes want to meet me; if that can’t be arranged, they can get me an outstanding deal on reconditioned printer cartridges. Notwithstanding this particular exception, we’d be well advised to regard the authenticity of such solicitation skeptically.

Using the word “you” instead of “they” help predispose your audience toward a full consideration of that strong case before they see or hear it.

On a task that we feel committed to performing, we will remember all sorts of elements of it better if we have not yet had the chance to finish because our attention will remain drawn to it. If pulled away, we will feel discomforting, gnawing desire to get back to it. This reflects a craving for cognitive closure.

Robert argues that because of the desire above, some of the readers actually purposefully not finish their sentences while writing to keep the desire to draw them back to writing. I am not sure how much of this would work on me, because I feel that I’ll just forget about writing altogether. 

Robert also encountered a healthcare company that refuses to use aggressive words. This helps the company and its employees to better comply with their ethics of being helpful and non-combative.

  • bullet points = information points
  • attack the problem = approach the problem
  • business target = business goal
  • beat our competitors = outpace our competitors
  • This is silly = this is interesting

I find this very helpful as changing words changes how people perceive and feel about the issue, and ultimately one would be able to convince others to jump on board with them. This is similar to using metaphors to invite feelings into the conversation below.

Running obstacles and fatigues are called “hitting a wall” because it feels like physically hitting a wall when you are suddenly tired and cannot seem to muster up the courage to finish the rest of the race.

Describing the crime as “a ravaging beast” helped politicians win over their constituents in the topics of strong policies on crime prevention.

Weight & heaviness in the English language is associated with seriousness. Next time go into the interview with a heavy-looking clipboard as opposed to a light/cheap one assumes importance and your seriousness.

Other word replacement like this:

  • used => preowned
  • final destination => destination
  • terminal => gate

People who learn they have a birthday, birthplace, first name in common come to like each other more. Find something in common with the person you are talking to helps them like you more.

Study of happiness by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky:

  1. Count your blessings & gratitude at the start of your day, write them down.
  2. Cultivating optimism by choosing beforehand to look on the bright side of the situation.
  3. Negate the negative by deliberately limiting time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others.

Tips on taking exams: don’t cram the last minutes with the study. Use the time to consciously calm fears & simultaneously build confidence.

Fun fact: infomercials are late at night because viewers don’t have the mental energy to resist the ad’s emotional triggers (likeable hosts, enthusiastic studio audiences, dwindling supplies, and so on.)

  • If you want to sell someone a box of expensive chocolate => ask them to write down numbers that are much larger than the price of the chocolates.
  • If you want to sell someone a bottle of French wine => play some French background music.
  • If you want someone to agree to try untested products => ask them whether they consider themselves adventurous.
  • If you want someone to feel warm towards you => hand them a hot drink.
  • If you want someone to be more helpful => show them photos of individuals standing close to each other.
  • If you want someone to be more achievement-oriented => show them an image of a runner winning a race.

Interesting ethics experiment results:

  • The more unethical the climate (work environment), the poorer the worker’s job performance. 
  • The more unethical the climate, the more stress they felt at work
  • That particular stress caused their poor performance.

Economically centered pitch to business leaders against unethical activities:

  1. Strike one: Employee turnovers. Estimates of direct expenses associated with turnover (severance pay, recruitment, hiring, and training of the replacement) can extend from 50% of the annual compensation package to 200% of the total package for executive-level positions. The average voluntary turnover in the U.S. is about 15% a year. Even at 10% of workers (average of $40k a year) will make $4 million every year in turnover costs. When asked if the employee would change teams and stay with the company, 51% elected to stay but change teams in an ethical group, and 80% elected to leave in an unethical group.
  2. Strike two: employee fraud and malfeasance. 
  3. Strike three: leaders of the organization need to believe in ethical behaviors in order to make this work.

Win Bigly by Scott Adams

Some of the stuff I feel like it’s telling the story afterward, like saying Trump’s slogan was great, and none of Hilary Clinton’s stuck with the voters. There is probably a good amount of truth in this, but it feels over-analyzed.

I wanted to read this book because I really liked Scott Adams and his other book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, however, I did not enjoy the read. I still summarized the persuasion tips below and think many of them are helpful.

  • Persuasion tip #1: When you identify as part of a group, your opinions tend to be biased toward the group consensus.
  • #2: Humans are hardwired to reciprocate favors. If you want someone’s cooperation in the future, do something for that person today.
  • #3: Persuasion is effective even when the subject recognizes the technique.
  • #4: The things that you think about the most will irrationally rise in importance in your mind.
  • #5: An intentional “error” in the details of your message will attract criticism. The attention will make your message rise in importance – at least in people’s minds- simply because everyone is talking about it.
  • #6: If you are not a Master Persuader running for president, find the sweet spot between apologizing too much, which signals a lack of confidence, and never apologizing for anything, which makes you look like a sociopath.
  • #7: It is easy to fit completely different explanations to the observed facts. Don’t trust any interpretation of reality that isn’t able to predict.
  • #8: People are more influenced by the direction of things than the current state of things.
  • #9: Display confidence [either real or faked] to improve your persuasiveness. You have to believe yourself, or at least appear as if you do, in order to get anyone else to believe.
  • #10: Persuasion is strongest when the messenger is credible.
  • #11: Guess what people are thinking-at the very moment they think it-and call it out. If you are right, the subject bonds to you for being like-minded.
  • #12: If you want the audience to embrace your content, leave out any detail that is both unimportant and would give people a reason to think, That’s not me. Design into your content enough blank spaces so people can fill them in with whatever makes them happiest.
  • #13: Use the High-Ground Maneuver to frame yourself as the wise adult in the room. It forces others to join you or be framed as the small thinkers.
    • Pundit 1: your side didn’t do enough to end street violence.
    • Pundit 2: I agree. Luckily we have learned a lot since then. A number of cities experimented with different approaches and some worked better than others. Let’s try to find the best practices and see if we can spread them to other cities.
  • #14: When you attack a person’s belief, the person under attack is more likely to harden his belief than to abandon it, even if your argument is airtight.
  • #15: Studies say humans more easily get addicted to unpredictable rewards than they do predictable rewards.
  • #20: People are more persuaded by contrast than by facts or reason. Choose your contrasts wisely.
  • #21: When you associate any two ideas or images, people’s emotional reaction to them will start to merge over time.
    • if you want to make a good impression, don’t jokingly complain about the traffic on the way over. Try to work into the initial conversation with some positive thoughts and images. If your positivity has some visual imagery, that’s even better.
    • Another easy way to influence yourself by association is to decorate your living space in a way that you find emotionally pleasing.
  • #22: People automatically get used to minor annoyances over time.
  • #23: What you say is important, but it is never as important as what people think you are thinking.
  • The things that you think about the most will irrationally rise in importance in your mind.
  • Humans think they are rational, and they think they understand their reality. But they are wrong on both counts.
  • The McGurk Effect.
  • Confirmation Bias: People don’t change opinions about emotional topics just because some information proved their opinion to be nonsense. Confirmation bias is one of the many reasons you should not solely rely on past experience to predict the future.