Friday, May 10, 2013

The Art of Persuasion Applied to Training

I'm currently reading Robert Cialdini's Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. I am really enjoying the refresher on many of these concepts, which I encountered in classes at Stanford. The book is particularly useful because it provides very concrete advice on applying the concepts. I've already started using some of the ideas in the Disaster Preparedness 101 class I'm collaborating on developing for the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

We'll be handing out an action checklist, so people will have an idea of what to do, and they will be able to check off two items before class ends. By presenting the list as already partially complete, participants are more likely to continue to work on the tasks and feel less overwhelmed.

Another technique will be to explain that "most people like you, who care about getting prepared for disasters, also care about helping getting their neighborhoods and community prepared. And we've got just the program for you!" We then present the follow-on course, and provide a sign-up that they can do. Using the phrase "people like you, who care about" (as long as it's true), is a combination of the "labeling technique", which is simply another way of saying that people live up or down to your expectations of them, and the "bandwagon technique" explaining that "most people like you do x". Emphasize the qualities and behaviors that you want to reinforce, (rather than the ones you don't want) and people are more likely to conform with those expectations.

Another technique that I've incorporated is the simple one of writing down and sharing a goal. For the closing activity, attendees will be asked to write down one action they will complete within a week, and then share it with the group. Both making the commitment in writing and sharing it out loud with others increases the likelihood of someone following through on it.

Simple techniques, yes! But effective.

I recommend the book for everyone - after all, we all need to persuade others at times.