Incorporating findings from psychology into organizations, getting people to do what you want b persuading rather than forcing or ordering them to do. This is written as a reflection on “Leadership through social influence course” taught by Professor Daniel J. O’Keefe from Northwestern University. Readers are encouraged to take this course HERE.
1 Kinds of problems
Four kinds of approaches to different persuasion and also are tools for basic influence used for any concrete situations.
Let’s start by thinking about those four questions and situations to come up with four common challenges and four different possible answers:
1. Why aren’t people doing what you are doing? Don’t have a positive attitude
2. Social considerations: what people think what the other people do or should do.
3. Perceived possibilities to perform the behavior: Why do people think they can’ to do and don’t even try, and how to solve it?
4. Why do they already intend to do, but don’t translate those good intentions into action?
2 Influencing personal attitudes
People don’t have positive attitudes about your idea. The challenge is to change those attitudes, to get people see that your proposal, your idea is a good one.
2.1 Consequence-based argument
A common argument used in any situation is the argument that is based on its consequence. Starting to sort out answers to the questions of how to maximize our persuasiveness, the simple ones is the if /then arguments or is basically in forms of conditional situation. A consequences argument can be phrased either as positive consequences of doing the advocated action, or as negative consequences of not doing the advocated action. You can talk about the same basic consequence either way.
2.2 Consequence desirability
The more desirable the consequences of the advocated action, the more persuasive the argument is.
However, different people value different things; they vary in what consequences they value. It depends on their cultural differences or individual collectivism and whether they prefer longer-term or shorter term consquences.
Example: Sun cream (short term: sunburnt; long term – skincare)
Don’t assume you know about the consequences one person wants!!!
Example: You are trying to discourage smoking in teenagers,, mentioning to lung cancer and heart disease is not as persuasive as talking about social consequences such as it effects on their appearances.
2.3 Consequence likelihood
Even when people are convinced about desirability, they doubt whether the outcomes will actually occur.
Strategy 1: Before and after pictures:
You should give them multiple examples, cases (statistical, individual examples) and involve some parallel cases.
Strategy 2: Describe the underlying mechanism (how the advocated action comes to produce the claimed consequence; the process; the causal consequence, the mechanism); people will easily believe if they can imagine the process the effects happen.
2.4 Addressing counterarguments
There might be some opposing ideas, objections that your avocations are unproved and the result has not been founded yet.
The mistake is just ignoring the counterarguments; you need to undertake refutation of opposing counterarguments
Example: Possible counterarguments: diet – boring, not tasting very good
Strategy 1: Refute the counterarguments if you can
In case you can’t refute?
Strategy 2: Overwhelm by invoking all your supportive arguments (outweigh the negative ones); not even mention the counterarguments.
Strategy 3: Straightforward acknowledgement of drawbacks to your proposal (tend to remove skepticism and people will be more inclined to find that persuasion more believable).
3 Influencing social factors
Personal attitudes are not enough; social factors also influence people behavior.
3.1 Changing Descriptive Norms
Person perception of what the other people perform the behavior
Example: Everyone in my neighborhood recycle, so I should recycle, too. /I think it is a good idea, but nobody else.
Strategy: Give descriptive norm information, what other people are doing. (People don’t always realize what other people are actually doing, focus on inaccurate descriptive norms)
3.2 De-emphasizing prescriptive norms:
Person perception about what other people should do/prescribe for them, preventing them from doing this.
Strategy 1: De-emphasize, put more weight on their own attitudes than what other people think; that it should be your decisions, that you should do what you think is right; you should make decisions for yourself.
Note: Is there a way I could perhaps get the person to emphasize their own attitudes more than what other people think they should do?
Strategy 2: Discount person’s view specifically (don’t pay attention to what one says; he doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to these sorts of things/’s biased on this particular subject)
3.3 Changing prescriptive norms:
Persuadee already has the attitudes you want, but they have a negative prescriptive norm.
Strategy: Enlarge persuasive focus to include those other people, third parties. (bring them on board, show them it’s a good idea for people to do what you’re suggesting)
Note: Is there someone else I need to talk to and persuade them?
4 Influencing perceived ability
They don’t think they can; it is too difficult
4.1 The importance of Perceived ability
They already have positive descriptive, descriptive norms about doing things.
The questions are whether they knew how to do things and about how easy or difficult they thought about doing something.
Strategy: Alert to the possibility that you may need to address people’s perceptions of behavioral ability and difficulty.
4.2 Removing Obstacles
Strategy 1: Directly remove obstacles (informational area: give them information if they lack, don’t know exactly how to do it – a brochure how to perform the behavior; substantive obstacles – related causes, transportation for moving to and from a clinic for example)
Example: Amazon creates one-click shopping.
4.3 Rehearsal and modelling
Strategy 2: Rehearsal or practice.
Some people who have high desirability but low perceive ability, provide supervise training activity.
Example: You are aiming at teaching students about safe sex and make them have a conversation with their partners, a role-play will give them opportunities for practice.
Involve himself/herself in doing the activity.
Strategy 3: Modelling
See someone else successfully do it or actually use the technique.
Example: not finish paperwork on time, talk to them about how important it is, perceive difficulty, and think about other ways to make people feel easier to perform the action.
5 Convert intentions into actions
What can do to encourage people to convert intentions into actions?
Simple things like Reminders, cues, triggers call the behavior to mind. (Posters, phone calls, emails, etc.)
Example: Using stairs instead of escalators: using a simple sign will encourage people to use stairs rather than using escalators.
In which situations?
- Already have intentions to do things
- Already believe they’re capable
5.2 Explicit Planning
Instead of having abstract ideas, make a specific plan and think concretely about the ideas.
Example: Plan when and where, and how they can do things
5.3 Inducing guilt
Make people feel bad about their inconsistency.
Experience negative feelings about their existing positive attitudes and intentions on the one hand and their inconsistent behavior on the other, change their course of action.
Strategy: Feedback about their actual energy and attitude reminder
A dangerous strategy, when people react negatively to over attempts to make them feel guilty which makes them resistant to change. Besides, it can backfire if perceived behavioral ability isn’t sufficient enough.
Again, I believe that this course is quite useful and easily understandable. If you like it, click HERE for a free online COURSE course.