I was tempted to call this post "manipulation"; but these are things that many people do instinctively, or perhaps simply due to subconsciously copying someone. I seem to be more consciously aware of behaviours and I choose the appropriate behaviour for the situation – this means I will use the best behaviour I know to achieve what I want. In which case, is it really fair to say I am manipulative?
I distinctly remember when I was about 14 I read that people with more animated faces were trusted and liked more. This ties in with the theory I've touched on in emotions1 and emotions2 that a show of emotion is trusted for evolved reasons because it is hard to fake – and an animated face is more emotionally expressive. Any time I have come across other actual scientific studies that I can incorporate into my behaviour I have tried to do so – I will choose the appropriate facial animation, vocal inflections, and general body language to appear open. Body language is a big topic and requires practice to be able to [apparently] naturally pace with the person you are talking to in order to create a rapport. There are some general things even beginners should look to do such as leg crossing direction, showing the palms of hands when making a point, and awareness of personal space.
The way we use language is also incredibly powerful, as evidenced most obviously by hypnosis and the sort of persuasion skill shown by Derren Brown.
You don't have to hypnotise someone to get them to do something, and here are some of the ways to change people's behaviour that have been proven to work and I think are most common or easy to incorporate into your everyday life:
- Double binds – create the illusion of giving someone a choice whereas both options you have given elicit the desired behaviour. For example, a mother may say to her child, "would you like to tidy your room before or after your dinner?"
- Barnem statements are seemingly specific (personal) but actually apply to nearly everyone, e.g. "you have a creative streak that you aren't always able to indulge in". You can use the same types of statements to create a fast rapport with someone you've just met.
- As discussed on another blog recently, calling someone by their desired status elicits behaviour to reinforce it. E.g. referring to someone as 'friend/buddy' will enforce their perception of you as a friend. Calling your boss 'boss/chief' will give them a bit of an ego boost and help them to feel like you are a compliant employee even if the evidence suggests otherwise.
- Providing a reason for a request will vastly increase the compliance rate even if the reason is complete rubbish. For example, when trying to push in at a queue for a photocopier with "Excuse me, could I jump the line?" you will be let in approx 24% of the time. Changing it to "Excuse me, could I jump the line because I need to make copies?" increases this to 93%. Always add "...because xxx" to every request you make.
- Don't just request someone do something, get them to declare they will do it. A restaurant that had a 30% no-show rate for bookings reduced this to 10% by changing from "...let us know if you can't make the booking" to "...you will let us know if you can't make the booking, won't you?" and getting the response "yes".
There are also a few more subtle techniques that aren't purely bodylanguage or verbal.
One I've been practicing recently was referred to as compensatory ethics by TNP, and is essentially the idea that people have a moral view of themselves that they like to remain balanced. If they do something they aren't particularly proud of then they become much more likely to do a good deed soon after. Looking out for a good time to ask a favour, or creating it by subtly reminding someone of their less than perfect behaviour, will vastly increase your compliance rate.
Asking for a small action that creates the right way of someone viewing themselves will make them then more likely to agree to a much larger request – because they have already thought of themselves as that sort of person. E.g. If you want someone to organise a holiday, then get them to organise a small night out. Soon after suggest to them to organise the holiday – they think of themselves as an organisor and will be much more receptive.
There are many many more little techniques to change people's behaviour/response, but this post is already too long and I don't wanna give away all my secrets! :)
Always be aware of the language and techniques used by other people, religions, and advertisers. There is always more to learn, and books on body language and neuro-linguistic programming are good places to start.