One more in the global glut of books on how to influence people
Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini—the co-authors of The Small Big-Small Changes that Spark Big Influence—have more than 50 tips on how to convince others. The highly anecdotal, smartly written 260 pages of the book are divided into 53 readable chapters, one pointer per chapter.
Hoteliers, doctors, sales-persons, managers, policy-makers, charities, retailers, teachers, parents—just about everyone stands to benefit from the book. The threesome has managed to tell us what to do and, more importantly, how to do it without being didactic.
How to get citizens to pay taxes, patients to keep their appointments, find the right pricing, or clinch that dream job? Well, the solution can be as simple as addressing mails that seek to extract a commitment or making a presentation that highlights your future potential and not just past achievements.
If ever that Rs1,999.99 price tag has bothered you, you know where to look for the answer. And it seems Ron Johnson, a former senior vice-president at Apple, got himself fired as the CEO of JC Penny by rounding off those .99 price tags for whole integers.
To set apart these titbits that can get you to influence others, experiments in behavioural science, economics and social psychology have been pressed in evidence. Yet, the trio has steered clear from being pedagogic. Instances from everyday life, longest running television shows, advertisements that tanked, sermons that worked miracles in shoring up donations, bids that were laughably pricey, make for an easy and useful reading.
The easy listening show sounds jarring (page 125) with the words “In this information-saturated world where so many claim to be an expert, how do we know who to follow?” Perhaps, the use of ‘who’ instead of whom is an error. If not, then, like so many other rules, thanks to our American friends, the use of whom is slated to be shelved.
It’s a small price for a whole new vocabulary in the science of persuasion that one learns: reciprocity, peak-end experience, escalation commitment, commitment and consistency, astroturfing, etc.
Thus, we find out that astroturfing, besides being fake grass used in sports, is the practice of launching fictitious reviews as part of a grassroots campaign. We also discover that, in some countries, such conduct is punishable. The example is from Taiwan and extracted from the book:
“In October 2013, the Fair Trade Commission of Taiwan fined the Samsung Corporation 10 million New Taiwan dollars (around US$ 350,000) for allegedly paying people to post review and comments on social media and websites attacking the products of Samsung’s long time rival HTC and at the same time praising its own.”
Hope someone in Delhi is reading this and giving us genuine ‘likes’. A book that’s full of solutions does not need much publicity. But, the authors go a step further and demonstrate the flip side of their suggestions and the proper dosage of their antidotes.
Your product may have 10 different and highly laudable attributes; but, in your advertisements, you are well advised to limit yourself to the best three; mentioning anything more may distract rather than attract readers. My husband’s generation used to call it the ‘KISS RULE’: ‘Keep it simple, stupid!’
For a brief moment, the book does appear to be old wise men’s tales, dovetailed American style. However, sometimes, even old tales need retelling; pun intended. In case you are at the airport on your way to negotiate a deal, now, you know which book to buy. Seal the deal, at Rs399, not Rs400!