The book, “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” highlights a number of tips to improve your influence. Each tip is illustrated with a story or two, the description of the scientific study used to support the finding, and the reference to that study if you want to see the underlying science.
Each tip is provided in a chapter, and you guessed it, there are 50 chapters in the book. Each chapter is an easy 5-minute read. Here are two of my favorite tips:
Ask, but ask for just a little bit.
I had an uncle who seemed to always say, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. But asking for a favor, or a donation, or even a sale, is tough and not always successful. The idea in this tip is that if you ask for just a little bit, the person is more likely to give you what you want.
The study involved asking people for a donation to a charity. The control group was asked, “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?” The test group had an amended question, which asked for a tiny bit, “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation; even a penny will help”.
The people who were asked with “even a penny will help” were more likely to make a contribution. Almost twice as many made a donation. Even better, the average donation was about the same across both groups. Asking for just a little bit gets twice as many contributors, and doesn’t reduce their contribution.
How can we use this in everyday business? We often work in cross-team initiatives, where we work with teams across the organization. Those teams have different goals and we have to lead through influence. The people we work with on these projects are often volunteering their time to the initiative. Getting someone to contribute their time might work if you ask for their advice; even just a minute of their time will help. You might try something like, “we are working on an initiative to improve the customer focus of our user stories, would you mind giving us you opinion? Just 2 minutes will help.”
Do you have other ideas about how this tip might help? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
This tip is described in Chapter 20 of the book.
Being generous is a great way to live. The joy of giving doesn’t just have to be around the holidays, but all year long. Generous people tend to have happier lives. And, according to Yes!, generous people are more influential.
Generosity comes in several flavors. You can be generous with favors, compliments, and even small gifts.
The case study in this chapter described a guy selling raffle tickets for a charity event. He went around and made a sales pitch to a number of people, asking them to buy the raffle tickets. But, the day before, he gave a number of them a soda. He just went up to them, handed them a soda, and said “here, you look like you need a Coke”.
The people who received the unsolicited Coke bought twice as many raffle tickets as the control group. This principle is called reciprocity; people are likely to reciprocate if you start with a gift.
A side benefit, being generous is also helps you be happy – enjoying life.
Chapter 9 describes this tip, with another story about Bobby Fischer being generous to the country of Iceland, which paid off later in his life.
These tips were found in “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” by Goldstein, Martin, and Cialdini (Free Press, June 2008).