“Can you recommend a book for…?”
“What are you reading right now?”
“What are your favorite books?”
I get asked those types of questions a lot and, as an avid reader and all-around bibliophile, I’m always happy to oblige.
I also like to encourage people to read as much as possible because knowledge benefits you much like compound interest. The more you learn, the more you know; the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.
So, if you’re a bookworm on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to get into the habit of reading, this is for you.
Okay, let’s get to the featured book: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Robert Cialdini, and Steve J. Martin.
Whereas Cialdini’s classic book on persuasion, Influence, is more of an academic exploration of the science of, well, influence, rather than a practical playbook for influencing people (although the newest edition has improved in this regard), Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive offers a compilation of various evidence-based techniques for being more influential with just enough of the theoretical underpinnings to understand why they work.
Accordingly, the people who will get the most from Yes! are those who can immediately apply its teachings—marketers, salespeople, negotiators, managers, executives, politicians, and so forth—and while some of the methods discussed in the book were more interesting and meaningful than others, I was able to use some of the information in the book to get real results in my businesses, it was an engaging read, it provided a lot of value for the number of pages it contained, and it delivered on its primary promise—my four key criteria for judging a “problem-solver” book like this.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
My 10 Key Takeaways from Yes!
“When so many choices are made available, consumers often find the decision-making process frustrating, perhaps due to the burden of having to differentiate so many options from one another in an attempt to make the best decision. This may result in disengagement from the task at hand, leading to an overall reduction in motivation and interest in the product as a whole.
“A worthwhile exercise would be to review the extent of your product portfolio and ask yourself the following question: Where we have customers who may not be clear about their requirements, might the number of choices we offer be causing them to seek other and potentially fewer alternatives elsewhere?”
“Although many companies typically focus their training exclusively on the positive—in other words, on how to make good decisions—the results of this study suggest that a sizable portion of the training should be devoted to how others have made errors in the past and how those errors could have been (and can be) avoided.”
“Arguing against your self-interest, which can include mentioning a drawback of your arguments, proposals, or products, creates the perception that you and your organization are honest and trustworthy. This puts you in a position to be more persuasive when promoting your genuine strengths.
“. . . follow the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin: ‘Search others for their virtues.’ Many of us spend too much time finding faults in the people we deal with in our everyday lives. If, instead, we try to search their character for what we like about them, we’ll like them more; and, as a result, they’ll like us more. Everyone comes out ahead.”
“Similarly, if you’re hoping to persuade your colleagues to work with you on a particular project, it’s important to point out not just what they stand to gain in terms of opportunities and experience but also that they stand to lose out on those very same factors. In fact, research has shown that potential losses figure far more heavily in managers’ decision-making than the same things presented as gains.”
“Often, people are so focused on seemingly more influential aspects of their projects that they overlook the first piece of information that will be communicated to its audience—its name. All else being equal, the easier it is to read and pronounce, the more likely consumers, potential stockholders, and other decision-makers will be to view it positively.”
“This research clearly shows the value of giving gifts that are significant, unexpected, and personalized.
“To ensure that any gift that you give or favor that you perform is most appreciated, make sure to take some time to find out what gift, to the recipient, would best fit those three important criteria.”
“In cases in which a business can’t secure even a small initial product purchase, this commitment-and consistency-based strategy has other uses. For example, potential clients who are reluctant to use your service may be more inclined to do so if they’re first asked to take a small step, such as agreeing to an initial ten-minute appointment. Similarly, a marketing research department is more likely to get people to answer a large number of survey questions by first asking them if they’d be willing to answer a brief survey.”
“To ensure our message is optimally persuasive, we need not only to free them from their previous commitment, but also to avoid framing their previous decision as a mistake. Perhaps the most productive method is to praise their previous decision as correct “at the time that they made it.” Pointing out that the previous choices they made were the right ones “given the evidence and information they had at the time” can help free them from such a commitment and allow them to focus on your proposal without the need for loss of face or inconsistency.”
“The nationwide search revealed that 257 dentists were named Walter, 270 were named Jerry, and 482 were named Dennis. That means that dentists are about 43 percent more likely to be named Dennis than you’d expect if name similarity had absolutely no effect on career choice. Similarly, people whose names begin with “Geo” (e.g., George, Geoffrey) are disproportionately likely to do research in the geosciences (e.g., geology). In fact, even just the first letter of a person’s name influences his or her career choice. For example, they found that hardware store owners are around 80 percent more likely to have names that start with the letter “H” than the letter “R,” but roofers are about 70 percent more likely to have names that start with the letter “R” than the letter “H.”
“People move to states that are similar to their own names. For example, people who move to Florida are disproportionately likely to be named Florence, and people who move to Louisiana are disproportionately likely to be named Louise. People move to cities with numbers in them that match their own birthdate numbers. For example, cities with the number 2 in their names, like Two Harbors, Minnesota, have a disproportionate number of residents who were born on February 2 (2⁄2), whereas cities that have the number 3 in their names, like Three Forks, Montana, have a disproportionate number of people who were born on March 3 (3⁄3). People choose to live on streets whose names match their own. In other words, someone named Mr. Washington is more likely to choose to live on Washington Street than someone named Mr. Jefferson. People choose to marry others who have similar-sounding first or last names. All else being roughly equal, if Eric, Erica, Charles, and Charlotte all meet one another for the first time, Erica will be more likely to become romantically involved with Eric than with Charles, and the opposite is more likely to occur with Charlotte. When asked to trust their feelings and intuitions, people prefer products whose first letters matched the first letters of their own name. So, someone named Allan might be more likely to put the candy bar Almond Joy toward the top of his list than someone named Nick, who might be more likely to put Nutrageous toward the top of his list.”