5 Behavioral Lessons I Learned From Robert Cialdini by Josiah Go

Author Robert Cialdini (right) being interviewed by Daniel Pink (left) during the Ideas42 Behavioral Summit

I attended the Ideas42 Behavioral Summit in New York last October 2018 which featured the who’s who in behavioral science and economics. The first session featured Daniel Pink, bestselling author of ‘Drive’, ‘To Sell is Human’ and ‘When’ who interviewed another bestselling author, Robert Cialdini, whose 1984 book ‘Influence’ sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into 30 languages to date. They discussed how to use behavioral science to positively influence other people.

Five key lessons are worth sharing in their conversation during the conference.

  1. Have a unity message before presenting disagreement. Known as ‘convert communication’, this addresses any resistance and enables the other party to be more open instead of outright rejecting.  For instance, instead of saying “I disagree,” use something like “I had the same belief because . . . but this is what I have discovered . . . “
  2. Never do finger pointing, as no one will admit they are poor decision makers. Instead, allow people to save face when they made a decision mistake. Known as ‘Self Concept Cover’, this entails sharing the right information to inform the person or group that they may have been misinformed but in an assuring way like ‘You could not have possibly known this at that time’ allowing a person the possibility of reversing the decision made earlier. This can be used specially during elections where fans tend to stick to their candidates even if promises were not fulfilled, showing a cognitive bias.
  3. A message can be much more effective if it is related to the personal lives of the audience. The effect of crime not improving or economy getting worse becomes more visible in the mind of the audience if they know someone or real people are victimized or suffering. 
  4. For intellectual property owners, use a third party agent or representative to promote their work. They not only legitimize their work, it spares them the burden to be branded as self-promotion jerks. In the case of publisher and authors, their relationship usually become better because of the agent’s role in the value chain. 
  5. Cues are important and can be used as a reminder. When Robert Cialdini was writing his book ‘PREsuasion’, he placed a photo of his grandchild to remind himself that his work should still be relevant when his grandchild will read them fifteen years after. When he was writing in his office, he noticed his vocabulary were more technical as if he was writing for his academic research peers whereas the language he used while writing at home was much less technical and much friendlier.

Behavior is a product of a person and their perception of their current situation, which can be altered through practical and inexpensive ways.  A Mansmith and Fielders course on understanding consumer buying behavior through behavioral economics applies this knowledge broadly in different fields of corporate and government institutions, where this awareness of psychological risk taking and biases are taken into account in the design of campaigns that enable consumer decision-making.

(White Space Club is offering a half-day seminar ‘Consumer Behavior and Psychology in Marketing: 24 Strategies to Influence Win Win Outcome in 15 Industries’ seminar this Feb 26, 2019 in BSA Tower Ortigas, it is a fund raiser for Kythe Foundation. Visit their Facebook page’)

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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