We all seek to persuade others into doing what it is that we need them to do. It might simply be the way we say ‘hello’ to start the day or the meeting to go the way that we want it to. Or it could be that we want them to make a cup of tea, give us a lift or lend us a few bob. The fact that we are using the word persuasion would suggest that the person either did not know that they wanted to do this for us or actively did not want to do it. I remember a couple from my youth where she would say to him “if you go to the shop and get me a box of Black Magic I’ll let you kiss me”. They went on to have twins; I’m not sure what he had to do to get that far! Any way, most persuasion requires a reward to make the task worth doing.
We could use other words instead of persuasion such as teaching, training, encouragement, seduction, inducement, punishment, cajolery, extortion, manipulation, coercion, bullying, brainwashing, exhortation, fear… I am sure there are more. Perhaps we then need also to consider the common vehicles that are used for persuasion such as media, news, propaganda, prejudice, gossip, faith, belief and our good friend advertising.
Security and behaviour
We probably don’t realise it but our behaviour is based around our need for security, for our need to feel safe or normal. This may also be seen as the need to achieve a positive goal. Perhaps a strange concept to grasp when we look at what others are doing. Some people need to live on the edge in positions that others might see as dangerous. It might seem strange some people get their feeling of safety and security by putting themselves in danger. Hanging off a mountain by your finger tips will scare some but excite others. People who enjoy living with danger are actually living with what makes them feel normal. Adrenalin junkies may not feel secure unless life is a challenge or dangerous. For others life may feel easier when they adhere to a safe normality and conformity. In these cases their sense of security and knowing that they are safe is their reward.
However some behaviour will be driven by fear. In this case avoiding the feared outcome is the positive outcome. The drive to save money maybe driven by the fear of poverty. The drive to take supplements, eat properly, or go to the gym may be driven by the fear of illness or death and so on.
The nature of reward
All behaviour is reward driven. We all get something from what we do or we would not do it. In all behaviour there is an end point, a goal or a reward. Even the most philanthropic and seemingly selfless of people get the reward pleasure from their actions, from helping others or making something right. No behaviour positive or negative is without a reward. The reward may be tangible as in a cocaine or nicotine hit, or an endorphin rush after exercise, or a cream cake. However, most rewards are emotional. The main result and driver of our behaviour is that the result of it is to make us feel right, safe and secure.
Do not become confused by ideas of positive and negative rewards. The things that are our securities are our habits that we have learned. The habit making aspect of our system is neutral, it does not care if the things that we use to create our sense of security are positive or negative. They are simply the habits that we have learned. The self-harmer does it because it makes sense to them and makes them feel right and ok.
The masters of persuasion
When it comes to persuasion nothing makes us more vulnerable than advertising. A good salesperson will be able to evaluate their sales target and present their message in such a way that it makes sense to the target. The sale pitch for each person needs to be different, one size does not fit all. In sales you have to understand your market.
What do you fall for?
What do you like to buy? How do you like to spend your money? Or how do you like to donate or share your time? Advertising is a good place to begin because it shows how different products are advertised differently to different personality types. Each advert is designed to persuade the person to buy the product. Looking at the different personality types we can identity the dominant drives that create their security characteristics. These types, often known as chakra types, are physical/sexual, social/belonging, experiential/novel, power/importance, status/authority, sensitive/empathic and creative/inspirational. Let’s look at them one at a time.
This type of personality is most easily persuaded by physical messages. In advertising a product must be shown to be body enhancing. Something that will make your body look better, or make you think that your body looks better. Body building products. Clothes that accentuate your physical characteristics. Smells that make you appear sexier. Sexual preparations/Supplements that increase your stamina. Often advertisers will use well known sports people or stars that have a physical attraction to sell these products.
Persuasion in this case usually come from the message of belonging, ‘are you one of us’, ‘do you belong’, ‘are you in with the in crowd’? ‘Are you seen as special to the group?’ The sale message is ‘If you have our product and use our services you will be special and you will be seen as special by the group’. Here enters the diet fad, the gym, the Zumba class, the designer label, the fashion accessory, handbags, shoes, the brand image, breast implants, face lifts, botox and fillers. All the time comparing what I have to what you have. Can I keep with the leaders of the group, the fashion and style gurus. This used to be called keeping up with Joneses.
FaceBook and Instagram are awash with people who want you to look into their lives and admire all the wonderful products that they use and services that they admire. In the modern age the group has grown from the villagers around the village well to multi million participants online. Now, people make a handsome living by simply sharing their lives online. However the message remains the same, ‘are you one of us’, ‘do you belong to our group’, ‘are you good enough?’
When people are outside of the group but desire to be in, perhaps they do not have the money or resources to buy all the wonderful products, we now have the development of ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Along with this comes all the negative emotions of envy, greed and prejudice. All of which are wonderful emotional drivers for the persuades to ply on.
Brexiters promoted the fear of ‘them’ the immigrants invading ‘our’ group if we did not leave Europe.
These people need to feel engaged and excited. They don’t want to be a part of some fashionable social group, they want to different and be seen to be different. If everyone is wearing pink, they will wear yellow. If everyone is always on time they will always be late. Here we enter the world of the novel and new, the world of the gadget.
These people have a keen intellect, they are interested in information and things and how things work and happen. A social type will be nosey. An intellectual type will be interested. Gadgets, science, and new ideas become engaging and exciting. The new concept and the new way of looking at something is persuasive to them.
Because of this drive for newness, novel and unique, they can become easily bored and may seek new and novel stimulation elsewhere. The social type may be praised for their wonderful dish of duck a l’orange, the experiential type seeks praise for their new and novel and experiment with duck a l’banana. To persuade these types requires novel, stimulating and exciting new and different options and ideas.
‘Tell me I am important’ this is the stance taken by those that seek power. Often egotistical with differing levels of narcissism and sometimes psychopathy, these type not only see themselves as important and as exceptional individuals but also expect you to see them in the same way. They want you to pay homage, bow down and kowtow to their greatness. This person, strange though it may seem, is really built on very insecure foundations. They need other people to give them adoration because they don’t actually feel it themselves. The two most wonderful examples of this are being played out on the international stage as I write this. Both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are very insecure people who are seeking to feel more powerful and therefore more secure through their action, communication and threats. For them the potential for their security comes from the bigging up of themselves, ‘my rocket is bigger than yours’ type of stuff.
Imagine a room with a party going on. There is someone sat in the corner chatting and engaging calmly with other people. In walks another person who loudly demands attention. People rush to greet them, the cry goes up that (whoever) has arrived. The new person revels in the accolade and swells with pride. Now, who is the most confident and secure? Is it the person who is comfortable sitting in the corner or the person who needs attention to make them feel secure?
To persuade these insecure types requires that they are told how wonderful they are. If they make you a cup of tea it is not enough to say thank you, they need to hear that it is the best cup of tea that you have ever tasted. If they have a product it has to be so special that no one else could possibly have it. Either or is so rare no-one could find it or so expensive that none could afford it. Often it will need to be brash, bright and full of bling. It needs to be a real head turner.
Status is different from power. The Queen has status but actually has no power. The aristocracy have status and some still have money, though they may have property and big houses, though they are often, in reality, as poor as the church mouse and really have no power. However they demand and get respect and authority from most people.
Status is always a staircase. The solicitor becomes the barrister, becomes the circuit judge, becomes the high court judge, becomes a law lord. At each stage the person has more status but has no personal power. They are only able to exercise the power of the law which is not their power it is the power or parliament.
Persuasion for these people is not about power, novelty or belonging it is about respect, status and greater authority. To acknowledge people and their contribution is through awards, ceremonies and honours. To be an MBE, CBE or to be knighted is an acknowledgment of status and reward. To be called Mr or Mrs has no status, to be Manager, Director, Dr, Professor, Chair person, Sir, Lord, Lady and so on all have greater status. All status systems have their own ladder of progression. In the army there is the private, corporal, lance corporal, sergeant and so on. It was always said that when a service person, in active service, is ‘mentioned in dispatches’ (reports) they will get a medal which is a recognition for them and added status. The medals are then worn proudly at ceremonies to show the persons status. The more medals, the greater the status.
Here we move into a different kind of person and different kind of world. These personalities are not motivated by material things, status, recognition or position. For them the importance of life and therefore their security, is in simply being and being in the right way. Sensitivity and empathy equals harmony. To be in harmony with the universe and the universal energy is seen as more important than anything else.
Persuasion at this point is about being ethical and acting in the right and appropriate way, known as Dharma. To act dharmically or in the right way, reduces negative actions and negative Karma, which is the negative consequence of action. Equally positive actions will lead to positive karma or positive consequence of action. To be sensitive to the inner worlds of others is to be an empath. Empathic sensitivity leads to the drive for care and caring.
This may be expressed as green or ecological living. Not driving when you could cycle or walk. Recycling what you can and generally caring for the environment and other beings. Vegetarian and vegan life styles are often based in empathy. This is the world of questioning the meaning of life, spirituality, philosophies, mindfulness and meditative techniques. Spirituality should not be confused with religion, which is often more to do with status and authority rather than spirituality and empathic expression.
These are the people that create the ideas, products, services, propaganda, beliefs and philosophies that are sold, in whatever form, to all the personalities described above. They are the image makers, the inspirers and the icons that lead and change society.
Ok, a long and involved blog. I will climb off this hobby horse.
In short, the methods and messages that we use to persuade others are only effective when they directly resonate with the personality type and security base that we are communicating with. Remember that the positive drive of persuasion for each type of personality is to increase or maintain their security. The negative drive is for them to avoid any threat to their security. Both drives can have the same effect.
Take care and be happy