Economy

The secret power of persuasion

Michael Yardney /

Have you noticed how successful property investors, in fact people who are successful in most walks of life, usually have the gift of being good negotiators.

 

In fact, they are more than that – they are good persuaders. They have the ability to influence others to go along with their point of view.

We’ve all heard of win/win negotiation, but let’s be honest, in many of our negotiations we would really like a bit more than win/win. When buying a property, or any other big-ticket item, we usually want to buy it at the best price possible, while the vendor wants to sell it for the highest price they can achieve.

Admit it, when you buy your next car, you would really like the negotiations to end up favouring you and not being an even-handed win/win?

Good negotiators have developed the art of being able to influence others to see things their way. They know how to get others to do things they want to get done. They seem to have an innate gift of understanding others’ needs and wants and finding a way of delivering that within the bigger context of getting what they themselves want.

A number of years ago I came across a powerful book, The Psychology of Persuasion, in which Robert Cialdini outlines six universal principles of influence that he discovered as he studied what made people do the things they do, in his role as a professor of psychology.

Let’s look at these in more detail…

1. Reciprocation

We were all taught that we should find ways to repay others for what they do for us. That’s only fair – most people will make an effort to avoid being considered an ingrate or someone who does not pay their debts.

Cialdini explains how in the 1970s the Hare Krishnas used this principal to raise millions of dollars. They would give passers-by a flower and requested no money. However, this innate principal was so strong that even though the recipients didn’t really want the flower, they felt the need to repay the debt of kindness in some way and many donated money.

You probably have come across this principle, where someone has delivered a number of uninvited “first favours” over time and then you feel obliged to deal with them or do business with them.

Put simply, whatever you give out in life you tend to get back sooner or later. If you go through life looking for good in others and helping others get what they need, you may not always get an instant reward, but the principle of reciprocity will provide somewhere along the line.

2. Social proof

Cialdini points out that we decide what is correct by noticing what other people think is correct. Innately we want to be like others and people are comforted knowing others are doing the same thing.

This principle is often used by sales people who give testimonials from people “just like you” who have bought and appreciated their product or service. Most people feel at ease if they know others have already done what they intend to do. Celebrity product endorsements are an obvious application of this principle of social proof.

If you want someone to do something for you, be sure to let them see that other people are already doing it or are willing to do it. Show them that others like them believe in your product or service and are using it.

3. Commitment and consistency

Once people have made a choice or taken a stand, they are under both internal and external pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. When people tell their friends they are going to give up smoking, or lose weight, it motivates them to keep going with their decisions. We tend to feel pressured to behave consistently with the choices we have made. No one likes to admit they were wrong.

You can use this principal in negotiations by taking the time to understand what motivates others and speak to them in their own language. Try and elicit their values. Find out what they want, what they are trying to achieve. This will allow you to tap into their natural motivators, while also giving them what they want.

When you can get someone to commit verbally to an action, the chances go up sharply that they’ll actually do it.

4. Friends

We all like doing business with people we know and like. And people tend to like others who appear to have similar opinions, personality traits, backgrounds or lifestyles. More people will say “yes” to you if they like you, and the more similar to them you appear to be, the more likely they are to like you.

That’s why it’s important to build rapport with people you plan to negotiate with.

5. Authority

Most of us were raised with a respect for authority, so we tend to place importance on information given to us by authority figures like doctors, policemen or professionals.

Sometimes people confuse the symbols of authority such as titles, appearance or possessions with the true substance. This means you can use this principle to your advantage during negotiations. Look and act like an authority yourself – dress like the people who are already in the positions of authority that you seek. Or cite authoritative sources to support your ideas.

6. Scarcity

The feeling that we may miss out on something special or unique will drive us to take action. Things always seem more valuable if there’s an element scarcity. Hard-to-get things are perceived as better than easy-to-get things.

Look at most advertising and you’ll see words like “limited offer”, “closes this weekend” or “limited edition collectors items”. How can you use this principle of scarcity in your negotiations?

Professor Cialdini’s Six Weapons of Influence are incredibly powerful and can be combined in many ways.

They are useful in property negotiations, in business or in fact, in all walks of your life. Use them whenever you approach people you want to influence and they will assist you in becoming a powerful communicator.

Michael Yardney is the director of Metropole Property Investment Strategists, a best-selling author and one of Australia’s leading experts in wealth creation through property. For more information about Michael visit www.metropole.com.au and www.PropertyUpdate.com.au.

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Michael Yardney

Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author, one of Australia's leading experts in wealth creation through property and writes the Property Update blog.

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