Before you learn about omega strategies I want to give you your first IPQ
test! (Do I have you in suspense?)
In the preceding chapter you decided how you would react in a cou-
ple of different hypothetical scenarios. Now, I want you to discover where
you are at in terms of your understanding and ability to apply some of the
principles of influence.Testing Your Influence and Persuasion Quotient
Wouldn’t it be great to know how to frame your products, services, and
ideas—yourself—so that others simply fall over as they try to get to you?
Over the next several months I will be releasing on my web site the culmi-
nation of years of research and meta-analysis of what works and what
doesn’t in the fields of influence, persuasion, and compliance. All of this
material is 100 percent ready for use in selling and marketing.Virtually all
of the information is new and has never been shared in anything that I
have ever released.
To gauge your current knowledge of what works in influence, let’s
start with a test that you can take to see what your IPQ (Influence and
Persuasion Quotient) is. You’ll need a pen and paper and about five
minutes of your time. Write all your answers down. This is crucial, as
you will see.
1. Imagine you are considering purchasing a CD player but you
haven’t decided which brand or model you want to buy.You walk
past an electronics store and see a sign in the window advertising a
popular Sony CD player that is on sale for $99.You know that
price is well below the standard retail price.
A. Recent research shows that what percentage of people would
buy the Sony?
B. Research shows that what percentage of people would wait to
learn about other models?
2. Now imagine the same situation except that the store is also adver-
tising a high-quality Aiwa CD player for $159. Like the Sony, this
player is a bargain.
A. Research shows that what percentage would buy the Sony?
B. Research shows that what percentage would buy the Aiwa?
C. Research shows that what percentage would wait to learn
about other models?
(If you knew the answer to just these two questions,you would have an
enormous understanding of what causes people to buy now,and how people
make choices.But there is more you can learn.Continue with question 3!)
3. In a research project by Kahneman & Tversky (1984), researchers
offered individuals their choice between a Minolta X-370 camera
priced at $169.99 and a Minolta Maxxum 3000i priced at $239.99.
What percentage of people chose the Minolta X-370 at
4. The same researchers as in question 3 also offered a different group
of participants the same two cameras noted in question 3 but also
offered the Minolta 7000I at $469.99.
A. What percentage of people chose the X-370?
B. What percentage of people chose the Maxxum 3000i?
C. What percentage of people chose the Minolta 7000I?
Knowing how the wild card of the third product that is new, signifi-
cantly more expensive, and probably better changes the buying decisions
of individuals is absolutely essential in understanding how to communicate
with and influence people.Before we talk more about that,score your self-
test right now!
Question Answer Points If Correct
1A 66% 3
1B 34% 3
2A 27% 4
2B 27% 4
2C 46% 5
3 50% 4
4A 21% 4
4B 67% 4
4C 12% 4
30+ Superb.You have a solid understanding of the dynamics of in-
fluence.Well done! You are in the top 10 percent.
20–29 Not bad.You have some of the basic concepts of influence
down and a good intuition. The Science of Influence series of
CDs and home study manuals will help you enormously.
11–19 Don’t worry. More than 50 percent of the marketing and
salespeople we work with are in this category.You aren’t alone and
we aren’t telling anyone! Order the first volume of the Science of
Influence and start utilizing its cutting-edge information.
10 or fewer points. Almost 30 percent of sales and marketing people
fall into this category.The Science of Influence will change your
life and your income forever!
As you have learned,adding the Aiwa CD player to the decision-mak-
ing process caused people to not know what to do—46 percent of the
people couldn’t decide so they put off their decision! Among the half that
did buy, they were evenly split between going for the bargain and opting
for the better product. Unfortunately, cutting your sales this much will kill
most businesses. Don’t make this mistake!
The next thing we learn from our test is that when given the two
original forced choices between the two cameras people were split be-
tween the bargain and the higher-quality option.However,adding another
choice,the very expensive camera,caused a large majority of individuals to
buy the middle-priced product.
Pay close attention: In numerous research studies in catalog promo-
tions the addition of an extremely expensive,high-end product causes people to buy
the next highest product with a great degree of consistency.
Reducing Resistance in Relationships, Business, and Life
I’ve held you in suspense long enough.What is an omega strategy?
An omega strategy is a strategy that is specifically planned to reduce resistance to
your message and as such has nothing to do with adding value to your offer.
Here’s what to do before they say,“I shouldn’t have listened . . .”:
Broadly speaking, there are two ways you can be more persuasive and
gain compliance.You can make your offer more attractive or you can re-
duce the resistance that you experience with the other person.Most books
in the world of selling, persuasion, and influence deal with making your
offer more attractive.This article, however, is going to show you how to
reduce resistance. It’s something that hasn’t been dealt with much in the
literature, so it might take a bit to lay out this mind-blowing information
from all angles.
Do you remember the last time someone said,“I think you should
. . . ,” or “If you do this, it will work,” or “Do this,” or “Do that,” or “If
you buy this . . . ,” or “I’d do X if I were you”? And then for some rea-
son you not only didn’t do it, you did the opposite! This is called a “po-
larity response,” or in psychological terms, “reactance.” Eliminating or
reducing the polarity response and reactance is what this article is all
about. There’s nothing easy about understanding all of this, but if you
stick with me over the next few pages, you will be astounded by what
you learn.That’s a promise. If you don’t read these pages, you will always
regret that you didn’t learn this information and begin applying it in
your life, your relationships, and your business!
My life’s work is in large part about influencing the human mind
(yours, mine, our client’s and customer’s, and the public’s—everyone’s!) for
health, wealth, and happiness. You and I are always fascinated by the
processes that people use to decide between X and Y realizing how the
choice will, perhaps, change their life forever.
Before we go on with why we sometimes respond negatively without
a great deal of thought and conscious cognition, I’d like to share with you
a story of how one simple decision that started with a “no way” knee-jerk
reactance could alter the course of a person’s work and life.
It was 1998 and Archie Levine was the event planner for a small non-
profit organization. He asked me to speak at its convention in Seattle. (I
had been going to speak for this group the previous year but it didn’t hap-
pen.I had been on the last flight of the day and it was canceled due to me-
chanical difficulties.Yes, another stellar moment for Northwest Airlines.)
When Archie quoted me the fee, I immediately said, “Sorry, I can’t do
that.” Inside, I said,“No Way!” But due to other circumstances that would
soon materialize,I decided to speak at this convention—not because of the
convention and certainly not the money—but rather because when I an-
nounced I might be there,a cyber friend,Richard Brodie (inventor of Mi-
crosoft Word and author of Virus of the Mind),said if I came he’d introduce
me to the audience.Well,I could hardly wait.I loved his book.And he said
he found my book The Psychology of Persuasion fascinating. (He was obvi-
ously the genius that everyone claimed he was.)
Yes, I was going to Seattle to speak, but the fee wasn’t even close to
my standard fee.The nonprofit group just couldn’t afford it. My incentive
was that I was going to have dinner with Richard.That was really why I
was going to go to Seattle.The convention—well, I’d give my 1,000 per-
cent, but to dig into the brain of Brodie was the real enticement to me!
So, I went.
Richard and I met and we hit it off from the first. He and I would be-
come good friends. Since we met, Richard has written testimonials for
three of my books, and he wrote the Foreword to Talk Your Way to the Top.
Meanwhile, because I decided to go to Seattle, I also met the woman
who would become the co-author of two of my books (Irresistible Attraction
and Through the Open Door:Secrets of Self-Hypnosis).Mary Lee is an excellent
writer and has a sharp mind.Her contributions to these books helped make
them among my favorite books. She also worked with me on developing
training sessions in Seattle, where she brought me several students, includ-
ing Ron Stubbs, Bev Bryant, and Katherin Scott, who are now partners
with me on various other projects.
Three years later, on a trip to Las Vegas with Richard, I met his
good friend Jeffrey Gitomer, who is the author of The Sales Bible. Jeffrey
is a rough-edged guy with a heart of gold.We became friends and even-
tually he wrote the Foreword and testimonials for my recent book,
Selling Yourself to Others. He’s one of the nation’s highest-paid and
There is a lot more that came out of Archie Levine’s phone call to me
six years ago, but the point of course is that my decision to go was a life-
altering decision in every way.
Key: My initial gut reaction to this offer was,“No way!”The money was
lousy,the venue was mediocre,and I saw nothing attractive about the con-
vention from a professional standpoint . . . until I had more information,
and it took weeks to get the information I needed to make one of the best
decisions of my life.
Wouldn’t it make sense for you to make sure that your decisions and
the decisions you influence others to make are the best ones?
Two Kinds of Resistance
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of resistance.The first is because of
reactance (a knee-jerk deflection of anything that infringes on our per-
sonal choice or freedom), and the second is because of anticipated regret
of complying or failing to comply with a request.
Did you know that very few people will trade a lottery ticket they
have just purchased for the original dollar they paid? Now,at best,a lottery
ticket is worth 50 cents on the dollar. (This is complicated to explain, but
if you bought $100,000,000 of lottery tickets you’d win about
$50,000,000 for a net loss of $50,000,000—i.e.,50 cents of value for every
dollar spent—a terrible gamble for you and a moneymaker for everyone
Now, why do people want to keep their lottery ticket once they pos-
sess it? Why don’t they want to part with this terrible investment?
The reason is that people anticipate regret regarding of what would
happen if the ticket happened to win! They’d feel terrible, and they don’t
want to live with that feeling. Thus they keep the ticket! The person
thinks,“If I sell this ticket back for $1 and it wins, I will feel like an idiot!”
In this case,the lottery ticket is perceived as a positive and the regret is
about how the person would feel on missing out on the positive experi-
ence of winning.
The next section discusses just how to turn “no”into “yes”before they
Exercise: Draw these distinctions and ask these questions in your mind:
What is the difference between reactance and anticipated regret? How do these two
critical concepts relate to your business or life situation?
Overcoming Resistance with Omega Strategies
From what we already know about influence,people make knee-jerk reac-
tions to people’s requests for compliance on issues.We often say “no”with-
out knowing why—it simply feels right.
From the point of view of persuasion it’s important to not allow that
“no” reaction to take place,and if it does to disarm it as rapidly as possible.
Once people have taken a public stand on an issue it is increasingly more
difficult to get them to change their minds.
Once people have taken a public stand on an issue it is increasingly
more difficult to get them to change their minds.
In the Psychology of Persuasion you discovered the Law of Consis-
tency.This law states that people will behave in a way that they believe
is consistent with their past statements about an issue and their past be-
haviors about an issue.This is backed up by numerous studies in social
Even more interesting is that research shows that if people pass up on
an opportunity once, they will almost certainly pass up on that same op-
portunity in the future (Tykocinski and Pittman,1998).Their behavior sets
a precedent. Once someone passes up an opportunity, no matter how pos-
itive, they tend to decide that way in the future as well.
In general, people will avoid doing something that could be in their
best interest simply because they have avoided doing it in the past.
Dr. Matthew Crawford of the University of Arkansas did an experi-
ment where a confederate was placed in the room with subject after sub-
ject. The confederate would encourage the subjects to bet on the
confederate’s choice of the winner of a given football game.The confeder-
ate working for Crawford would say,“You definitely have to pick team X.”
Crawford soon discovered some interesting things.
Half the subjects were instructed to notice and record how much they
would regret their decisions if they chose X and Y won versus if they
chose Y and X won. In the end the majority of the subjects said they
would feel much worse defying (choosing team Y) and losing versus com-
plying (going with team X) and losing. The result was that 73 percent
complied with the confederate and chose team X.
But when subjects were not asked to consider how they would feel
about their decision (no instruction was given at all) if they chose X and Y
won, or Y and X won, things were very different. Only 24 percent of this
group chose team X!
Without the contemplation to consider the regrets they would
have, people typically respond with a polarity response, also known as a
cognitive reactance. They have a knee-jerk “no” response hardwired
into their brains.
Finally, in Crawford’s study, all subjects were informed that their team
lost. Results:Those who complied with the confederate felt much worse
than those who reacted with a polarity response. (People are lousy at pre-
dicting their future feelings!)
$10,000 Key to Influence: Having the subjects focus on the regret of
both complying and reacting (polarizing) helped increase compliance and
I know what you are thinking! You are wondering how could it be
that actually putting attention on the negative (“No, I will not. I am a free
person and I will do as I please!”) helps subjects to be persuaded to do
what they are resistant to?
The question makes total sense.The fact is that people would like to
comply if they can see a way to do so.They simply don’t want to have re-
grets about it, so the best thing to do is to go there and look at what hap-
pens if they do and if they don’t comply.This very exercise of looking at
both sides increases the chance of compliance dramatically.
When a confederate is in the room and supposedly siding with the
person/subject whom we are trying to persuade,the confederate can actu-
ally help our cause by defiantly standing up for the point of view held by
the subject.The confederate literally can say,“I haven’t made up my mind.
It’s my choice, and I’ll choose what I want.”
According to Crawford,“This reinstatement of personal freedom,a re-
lease from reactance, actually increases the percentage of participants who
choose Alternative A,beyond that of a group that never had its personal free-
dom threatened. . . .Thus the arousal of reactance and the subsequent re-
duction of this resistance is an effective way to increase compliance.” (All
The four steps:
1. The participant’s/person’s/subject’s “freedom of choice” is
2. Focus is placed on the person’s feeling’s of the threat to their
3. The threat is negated.
4. Persuasion is accomplished with future regret verbalized or focus-
ing on the threat to personal freedom.
The key is to go quickly beyond reaction on the person’s part (an un-
conscious reaction) and focus on anticipated regret (which is conscious and
controllable). By doing this we dramatically increase compliance. You
might feel that this is counterintuitive, but it overcomes the reaction of a
This brings us to a key question that Crawford has asked and answered
and to which I will add my comments.
What causes people to be this way at the unconscious level?
Crawford believes that mainstream culture values autonomy, self-de-
termination, and independence, and that the importance of these values is
reinforced at an early age.
I agree, but I would add that this reactionary behavior is genetically
wired.Any animal that feels it is trapped and doesn’t have freedom to es-
cape will prepare to fight or flee.That’s the “no!” response!
Therefore, the human animal when trapped will say “no!” but when
asked to ponder the feelings of the future instead of the personal freedom
that is threatened the individual will focus on anticipated feelings of regret
of not doing what they are being asked and are therefore more likely to say
“yes” and comply.The conscious mind (left brain, say) is likely to override
the unconscious mind (right brain, say) and consider the options in a non-
Most people aren’t very good at predicting what emotions they will
feel when they make a choice that doesn’t work out for the best. People
often believe,“I will regret this decision so much” when in fact they later
do not feel that way when things turn out badly.The exception to this rule
is people who are constantly planning for the future and anticipating fu-
ture events. Research does indicate that these people do have a better grip
on what their emotions will be in the future. However, these individuals
are in the minority, so when someone tells you that they will feel a certain
way, remember that the statement is a guess and not a fact.
Mastering Omega Strategies
Time for another measure your of IPQ (Influence and Persuasion Quo-
tient), and a sly way to reveal more principles of influence to you!
1. In a study using students posing as beggars, would the students re-
ceive more or less when requesting a specific amount of cash?
2. Are people more or less likely to have a knee-jerk reaction of resis-
tance when they’ve been taken advantage of in the past?
3. Do hotel bellmen receive larger tips for delivering better service?
4. What can waiters and waitresses do to increase their tips?
5. What are the top three reasons some waiters and waitresses receive
more money in tips than others do?
6. What percentage of men believe they are above average in ap-
7. What percentage of women believe they are above average in
8. What is the earning power of above-average-looking men and
women versus average-looking and below-average-looking men
Bonus Question: How would a waiter or waitress offering a piece of choco-
late candy with the check affect the amount of tip received?
Here are the answers, and the research that backs them up.
1. In a study using students posing as beggars,would the students receive more
or less when requesting a specific amount of cash?
Students posing as beggars found that they received money 44 percent
of the time when they didn’t ask for a specific sum. If they asked for a spe-
cific single coin,they got it 64 percent of the time.But if they asked for an
arbitrary amount,such as 37 cents,they got it 75 percent of the time.What
can we learn? The more precise the request, the more likely it is to be ful-
filled—the more irresistible it is.
2. Are people more or less likely to have a knee-jerk reaction of resistance
when they’ve been taken advantage of in the past?
“Once people learn they have been fooled and taken they develop
much more resistance. Detecting and avoiding cheats is one of the most
powerful driving forces in human behavior.” (Brad Sagarin, Northern Illi-
3. Do hotel bellmen receive larger tips for delivering better service?
Taking a few extra minutes to (1) inform guests how to operate the
television and thermostat, (2) open the drapes in the room, and (3) offer to
bring guests ice doubled a bellman’s tips! He received an average tip of $4.77
when he did these things and an average tip of only $2.40 when he did not
do them. Providing these extra services increased tips from men as well as
women and from young as well as elderly guests.(Lynn and Gregor 2001)
4. What can waiters and waitresses do to increase their tips?
Data was collected in 1991–1992 on a sample of 207 dining parties at
a Mexican restaurant and on a sample of 148 dining parties at a Chinese
restaurant in Houston,Texas.The servers used a coin toss to randomly de-
termine whether they would stand or squat when first interacting with a
table.They also recorded the customers’ experimental condition—bill size
and tip size.
A waiter at a Mexican restaurant increased his average tip by $1.22
(from 14.9 percent to 17.5 percent of the bill) by squatting down next to
the table when introducing himself to his customers.A waitress at a Chinese
restaurant increased her average tip by $0.72 (from 12 percent to 15 percent
of the bill) by squatting down next to her tables.(Lynn and Mynier 1993)
5. What are the top three reasons some waiters and waitresses receive more
money in tips than others do?
Data were collected on a sample of 51 servers at a Mexican restaurant
in Houston,Texas, in the early 1990s. Servers posed for photographs and
completed a questionnaire that included questions about their service abil-
ities and questions from the self-monitoring scale. Ten judges indepen-
dently rated the photographs on physical attractiveness. An assistant
manager at the restaurant recorded the afternoon and evening charge sales
and tips of each server at the restaurant for a period of six weeks.The rela-
tionships among the variables measured in the study were analyzed using
weighted multiple regression.
Servers received larger tip averages to the extent that they were physi-
cally attractive, to the extent that they rated their service abilities highly,
and to the extent that they were sensitive to the situational appropriateness
of their own behavior. Physical attractiveness had a stronger effect on the
tips of waitresses than on the tips of waiters, while self-rated service ability
had a stronger effect on the tips of waiters than on the tips of waitresses.
However, all of these effects were observed only for evening tip averages.
None of these variables predicted servers’ average lunch tips. In fact, even
servers’ average evening tips were only weakly related to their average
lunch tips. (Lynn and Simons 2000)
6. What percentage of men believe they are above average in appearance?
7. What percentage of women believe they are above average in appearance?
A study by Michael French, French Economics: “Attractive Women
Earn More Money” (Hospital and school district workers) provided the
following self-report of women’s and men’s physical appearance:
Above average 47 33
Average 49 61
Below average 4 6
8. What is the earning power of above-average-looking men and women ver-
sus average and below-average-looking men and women?
Michael French found that above-average-looking women earned 8
percent more than average women.There was no statistical difference re-
lated to physical appearance of men.
Bonus Question: How would a waiter or waitress offering a piece of
chocolate candy with the check affect the amount of tip received?
In a study of tipping,a waitress working for David Strohmetz of Mon-
mouth University at a New Jersey restaurant offered one,two,or no pieces
of chocolate to 80 dining parties (293 people). No candy? The average tip
was 19 percent. Two pieces, 22 percent. When she gave one piece of
chocolate and then offered a second piece, her tips averaged 23 percent.
Exercise: What are three ways you can implement this information today
in your business and in your relationships?
The Power of the Future . . . in the Present
Alpha strategies are those that make an offer more attractive.
Omega strategies are those that reduce resistance.
Resistance is a thing that can be used up and replenished like water in
In an experiment,students were divided into “gullible”and “skeptical”
groups based on interview questions. Each of these was then further di-
vided into four subgroups.
The first subgroup was shown seven video clips of unfamiliar candi-
dates running for office and where they stood on the issues. One group
was asked to pay particular attention to the first clip. The other three
groups were told to pay attention to the last.Two of these last three groups
were shown a travelogue of Fiji before the last video was shown. One of
these two remaining groups was told to think positively about Fiji. The
other remaining group was told to make a list of all things that could go
wrong on a trip to the islands. Finally, all subjects had to criticize each ad-
vertisement and candidate.
Gullible subjects used up their resistance to advertising early on.They
became less critical of the candidates as the experiment proceeded even
though the clips were shown in different orders to different students.
Reaction to the final clip depended on the approach that had been
taken on the travelogue. If the subjects criticized the Fiji trip, they were
more likely to look at the final candidate positively.If they were told to look
positively at the Fiji trip,they were more likely to criticize the candidate.
Skeptical subjects reacted differently. Skeptics were least critical of the
first candidate and became increasingly more critical as time went on, re-
gardless of the Fiji travelogue.
Key: It is possible to use up resources for resistance, therefore making peo-
ple less likely to resist your message.
Exercise: How can you use up resistance early on with your clients and
customers, making them more susceptible to your message?
Using Time Perspective
The Tenth Law of Persuasion,as you know from my books Covert Hypnosis
and Selling Yourself to Others, says, “Changing someone’s time perspective
helps them to make different decisions.When people change their time
perspective they change how they feel about something and the decisions
they make in regard to it.”
Having carefully looked at the work of Steven Sherman, Matthew
Crawford,and Allen McConnell,I find their research dovetails in some very
unique and special ways with the Tenth Law of Persuasion,time perspective.
I must confess that when I discovered this missing piece in the persua-
sion and influence models a few years ago, I truly felt I had singularly
come across one of the missing links in the science of influence. However,
it is more than instructive to discuss the work of these leading academic
researchers because it appears that my work was concurrent with theirs
and I want to offer full credit to these men for the work they have done
and the information that they have brought to light.
When I was just starting my career in selling, I found that asking peo-
ple to commit to buying something from me in the future was a very
powerful strategy to actually having people follow through later. I also
learned that having people envision being happy with their purchases in
the future was an excellent way to increase my personal sales.
When I wrote scripts and trained fund-raisers for nonprofit charities I
discovered that having people envision feeling good in the future about
decisions to give today literally increased donations dramatically.The only
thing was that I had no hard data,just case studies and personal experience
from my work as a salesman, fund-raiser, and trainer.
Today we have the real-world experience and the academic documen-
tation to show an overwhelming amount of evidence that shifting a per-
son’s time perspective really is one of the most powerful tools of
persuasion and influence imaginable.
When I sold life insurance in 1985 for Farmer’s Insurance Group,I felt
very comfortable asking my future clients to imagine how they would feel
if they died and left their spouse with no money to pay the bills, pay off
the house, to put the kids through college, and so on. I then would look at
the spouse and say something like,“Doesn’t it feel good to have a spouse
who wants to take care of you long after he isn’t here to do so?”
I meant every word of it. I had learned the value of not having a par-
ent with life insurance very early in my life and again later in life.It can be
devastating. For the tiny amount of money that life insurance costs some-
one (for term insurance) I was 100 percent congruent in my asking my
clients to imagine the future and look at what it would be like when they
I’m not the only person to have done this as a salesperson. Many indi-
viduals have intuitively utilized the principle to aid in decision making.
Many use this theme manipulatively. Many use it because they care. One
fact is certain:Asking your client to see themselves in the future and imag-
ine what it would be like is strikingly powerful in increasing compliance
and gaining agreement.
In 1996, I developed a psychotherapeutic tool to be used in hypnosis
called the Time Track Therapy Intervention (see my New Hypnotherapy
Handbook).This intervention focuses in large part about having a client “go
into the future” and imagine in detail some of the good things their life
might offer them.The handbook instructs therapists to create a positive,
believable, and realistic future from which they can look back toward the
present and see how they took the steps toward this new and compelling
future.The results of this intervention have proved to be healing and dra-
matic in ways I never would have imagined.The e-mails and testimonials
are abundant. However, they don’t represent scientific proof that the inter-
vention is successful. Case studies are useful, of course, but they may or
may not represent the norm.
Returning to the more traditional settings of influential behavior (di-
rected at the goal of gaining compliance) we have always wanted docu-
mentation as to what specifically is effective and what is not.The need for
external and reliable validation now appears to be near completion for the
experience of having individuals see the future, good or bad, to gain com-
pliance, and this is where I truly appreciate the work of Sherman, Craw-
ford, and McConnell.
In addition to the aforementioned influence researchers, Robert Cial-
dini has discussed the notion that the principle of scarcity (see The Psychol-
ogy of Persuasion or Selling Yourself to Others for detailed information about
scarcity) is similar to the notion that people lose freedom (choices) in the
future if they do not comply with a proposal today.This is in line with the
anticipated regret model. Scarcity has certainly proven to be an effective
principle for gaining compliance. So is the utilization of fear.
Key: Fear has proven to be effective in the vast majority of studies re-
searching the appeal to fear when combined with highly effective persua-
sion messages. However, fear appeals generate a polarized response when
combined with ineffectual persuasion messaging. (Witte and Allen 2000)
What else helps overcome resistance and the polarity (knee-jerk) “no”
As noted earlier, literally asking the individual to consider the future is
an excellent technique for gaining compliance. Instead of telling someone
what to do,which typically generates the knee-jerk response,asking the per-
son to tell you whether they would do something if someone asked them to
do it is the key strategy that has been successfully studied by Sherman.
Crawford has discussed some truly remarkable research, which serves
as a template for influencing using these future pacing themes.Researchers
asked some individuals to give an afternoon of their time to charity.Two
percent of those asked complied. Researchers also asked other individuals
to tell them what would happen if someone asked them to give an after-
noon to charity. Of this group 40 percent said “yes.”Two weeks later this
group of individuals was called again (the people who were asked to pre-
dict the future), and 38 percent said “yes”—they would comply in helping
the charity. Numerous studies show that individuals agreeing to do some-
thing are much more likely to do so when the time actually comes when
compliance is requested than simply directing individuals to comply.
Individuals also are influenced by their own beliefs and imaginings
about the future.When asked to describe how team A might defeat team
B, those individuals then tend to believe that team A will actually win the
game.The effect is observed when other individuals are asked to imagine
how team B might defeat team A.
Sherman also found that individuals who were asked to explain their
hypothetical future success or failure at completing an anagram task were
all likely to do better than control groups who were given no opportunity
to explain their future success.
People who imagine a positive future appear to succeed and do better
than those who do not.This indicates that stopping the knee-jerk “no” is
very possibly the right thing to do in addition to being the most influen-
Finally, in another study done more than 20 years ago, Gregory, Cial-
dini, and Carpenter found that individuals who were asked to describe
how much they would enjoy owning cable TV later were found to be
much more likely to actually purchase cable.
The evidence is strong. Having individuals imagine the future is a
powerful tool for gaining compliance now . . . or in the future.
Exercise: What can you do to implement the concepts of bringing your
clients out into the future in your business and relationships?
Mastering the Science of Influence
To know that reciprocity is effective is one thing.To know how and when
to induce reciprocity is quite another.To know that asking for a favor can
be a powerful technique of influence is different from knowing when to
ask—and how. I want to show you how to communicate persuasively us-
ing a couple of separate techniques of influence . . . and I also want to
show you what not to do.
“Son, if you do that you will kill yourself,” said Mom—and the son
went right back and doing it . . . remember?
Mom neglected a key factor of influence that almost everyone forgets:
$10,000 Key to Influence: Give specific instructions or steps when directing or
attempting to influence behavior. Simply telling someone to stop doing some-
thing or to “get a job” or “behave” or “shut up” is utterly and completely
destined to fail because these are not instructions.
Decades of research reveal that specific instructions are necessary to influence
and induce compliance.What does this mean to you? It means that you need
to walk people step-by-step through a process that leads them to the door
you ultimately want them to open.Anything short of doing this is unlikely
to succeed in the short or long term.
I want to direct your attention (did you catch that?) to another tech-
nique that can be remarkably influential or explode in your face. Fear.
Fear is something we are all wired to fight or flee from. Our irrational
fears are those that we attempt to conquer and overcome. No one likes to
experience fear. Fear literally can motivate people in ways few other
“If you have sex without a condom you could get AIDS!”
That statement could induce fear or not. It could induce a behavioral
change but it probably won’t.The word “AIDS” now is a bit like “acci-
dent.”The public has been inoculated to the word through overuse.
“Imagine that you keep smoking those cigarettes and what you see is
your kids and your grandkids coming to look at you in your casket, crying
because they can’t speak with you anymore because you committed a slow
suicide with tobacco.Your face is shriveled and they will never think of
you in the same way.”
Now, that is a scary scenario for most people with children. (You’ve
used fear in a powerful fashion.) Let’s follow it up with “And if you cut
down to half a pack of cigarettes each day this month and to a cigarette
each day next month and finally throw the pack away, wouldn’t it be
something to see you healthy and happy, having fun, playing with those
What happened here? We scared the hell out of our friend and then
we gave a specific set of instructions to follow.That’s persuasive. However,
cigarette smokers may have heard it 50,000 times, in which case they are
vaccinated against your proposal and they will not pay attention to your
petition. Once a person has heard the same words or concepts over and
over the warnings lose their power.What to do?
And is it ethical? That’s an interesting question and books have been
written about such things! I don’t know the answer to the question but
I’m glad we brought it up. A good rule of thumb is to always act in the
very best interests of everyone you communicate with.
The lesson here is simple.If you are going to use fear in a communica-
tion in order to foster change or alter behavior—or encourage someone to
buy your product, idea, or service—you must also include a step-by-step
set of instructions in your message in order for it to be successful.
This formula therefore is:
Negative Emotions + Behavioral Plan → Behavioral Change
What happens when two scary or anxiety-producing experiences
compete with each other for the person’s behavioral response?!
Academic researchers have been studying anticipated regret for the past
few years,and here is a scenario that was proposed to 164 UCLA students.
You’ve parked your car in the lot and you are rushing to class for an
important quiz you don’t want to be late for.You realize on the way that
you may have left your car unlocked!
A number of students were then told to imagine how they would feel
if they went back to the car, found it was locked all along, and now had
missed the quiz. Others were told to imagine how they would feel if they
didn’t go back to the car and instead took the quiz, only to discover after-
ward that the car had been vandalized. How would they feel then?
All students were asked whether they would go back to the car or go
to take the quiz. Of those told to imagine the car vandalized, 69 percent
said they would return to the car and check to see if the doors were
locked. Of those who were told they would miss the quiz, 34.5 percent
said they’d go back and check on the car.The control group showed 46
percent returning to check on the car.
Once a person has heard the same words or concepts over and over the
warnings lose their power.
Lesson: In general where the students experienced anticipated regret they said
they would take the action appropriate to prevent the regret from happening.
We all know that what people say they will do and what they actually
do in real life are very different things. Later research has in fact validated
this fact.Where people experience anticipated regret, they tend to take ac-
tion to prevent the regret.As people of influence that’s a mighty important
thing to remember!
Exercise:Write down 10 things you can do in your business where if peo-
ple don’t take advantage of your product or service these negatives things
will happen to them. In other words, how can you take advantage of the
concept of anticipated regret?