Sunday, December 16, 2012


If persuasion was easy and simple  there would not be the need for so many sales people most of whom struggle.  Kevin Dutton has found that the average person endures around 400 persuasion efforts per day.  We have become hardened to most of them, but the author has uncovered some basic natural and simple facts of persuasion.  For those who think persuasion is not nice, you could reflect that at one time physical coercion was more common and as the author points out persuasion is an indication that we are really civilized.

Mixed in with a lot of references to scientific research are fun exercises, humorous incidents and an amusing style that will help you painlessly dig up some basic stuff of persuasion.  Some of the main subjects include babies, psychopaths and sales people.  We are all complex beings and most of us are clueless how our brains really work.  It is wired to take short cuts and some of us understand the shortcuts better than others.

Starting with babies, how is it that such totally defenseless beings are able to get their parents to relieve their (ie. the babies') discomfort as soon as possible?  Or cow complete strangers?  Crying helps, but there is more.  We are programmed to respond to baby faces with their rounder shapes with relatively larger eyes and  dilated pupils gets our attention.  This carries on to adults with one example being when the driver in heavy traffic is able to catch the eye  of fellow drivers they are more apt to be let in.  As counter to this, eye avoidance is common in traffic.

He gives many dramatic examples of split second persuasion where incongruity with sudden unexpected words or gestures reverse someone's direction.  From preventing a suicide to reconciling families, to a sale.  Kevin uses SPICE as an acronym to explain the mechanism.  It must be simple, perceived as in the other person's self-interest, incongruous, done with confidence and demonstrating empathy.

Psychopaths are pictured as cold blooded, but surprisingly the author says they are empathic.  Not in the warm way we usually visualize when the word is used, but calculating.  They understand what the other person feels and they can calculate how best to take advantage.  All psychopaths are not criminals and in fact many are business leaders.

Salesmen have learned or stumbled on techniques that work.  Most salesmen realize that sales are made not through logic, but through emotions.  Body language is key.  Light touching or leaning forward can be effective.  Confidence is hard to fake.  Searching for common ground is natural and helps develop empathy.  Knowing what the prospect feels is critical to persuasion and a smart salesperson will frame their proposition in ways that bring out favorable emotions.  Reciprocity is a normal human survival trait that salespeople can exploit in different ways.

Cognitive drain is a concept that when the brain has various operations on the go it loses its ability to either take on a new task or to perform at an acceptable level.  In other words we can be distracted.

"Split-Second Persuasion" is not so much a how to book as a layman's psychology text that will help you understand what is really going on.  If you are interested there are lots of practical thoughts.

Do you need more persuading to actually pick up the book?  Some more information can be found at the following website,

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