The art of pre-suasion

The art of pre-suasion

Last week, leading social scientist and bestselling author, Robert Cialdini, became the latest writer to chair the Mind Gym book club.

Having literally “written the book” on Influence in 2007, selling over 3 million copies in 33 different languages, Cialdini’s follow-up “Pre-Suasion” has since been highly-anticipated.

Those of us who delved into his early work will have the substance of persuasion covered, but his most recent research unearthed an equally important, but much-overlooked dimension… the moments before we speak.

Robert explained that when we have a precise goal for a message, the before, and during, the exchange can have a significant effect on the outcome. By carefully tailoring images, words, and context, you can temporarily alter not just what that person thinks, but also who they are in that specific moment. For example, if you induce price sensitivity, they become a price sensitive person.

Cialdini went on to share compelling evidence, including an experiment in which women were more likely to give their phone number to an attractive stranger (24% compared to 13.5%) if they were asked outside a flower shop than a clothes shop. The association between flowers and romance changed their susceptibility to the man’s request. Why? Because in that moment, they were romantics.

But 0% of people were aware these pre-suasion techniques were at work. It’s entirely subconscious.

Fortunately, a similar experiment showed that men are equally susceptible. Cialdini used a number of examples to demonstrate how performance and collaboration can be improved by subtle changes to imagery and language. For instance, think twice before asking for someone’s “opinion” because they’ll take a big psychological step back from you. Instead, ask for their “advice” and see how much more helpful they can be.

And, if you’re working on a contemplative task like problem solving, try swapping your nature desktop background for “man the thinker”. It can improve performance by a whopping 48%. Just make sure your pre-suasive stimulus is specific to your goal – it’s essential to be precise and know your audience.

We’re glad to say that people left the room buzzing with the possibilities that pre-suasive stimulus suggest.

If you’d like to discuss how your team can better influence and persuade, don’t hesitate to contact Josephine Shaddock – and one of our psychologists will be in touch.

Pre-Suasion is now available for purchase here.

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