PsychoBabbleJoseph Carrabis, Chief Neuroscience Officer at insightXM and contributor to my book Online Reputation Management For Dummies, caught my eye with this insightful article on the finer points (for me) of human communication. I could learn a lot from him. One tasty tidbit is to use primary colors on your site and copywriting. Our brains take action in response to primary colors, whereas no matter how pleasing other color schemes are to look at, they might not deliver results. I hate that. 😉 So I compromised with a fiery orange because it goes with the wildfire theme. And it’s fun.

PsychoBabble – Getting Them to Accept (even if they don’t agree)

“I wrote about using language to achieve goals in PsychoBabble – Power and Control in Meetings and Presentations and how to get acceptance in PsychoBabble – Getting Them to Accept (even if they don’t agree). This post is about jokes, priming and how to use a simple nod to close deals.

Many people nod non-consciously when they agree with something or want others to agree with them about something. This post helps you take conscious control of your nod so that it becomes one more tool in your negotiations.

Social scientists and comedians know that the nod is priming, something I’ve written about often. A comedian’s joke has two basic parts; the setup and the punchline. The setup is the priming because it primes you for the punchline. Jokes often fail to get a laugh because the joketeller doesn’t deliver a good setup, meaning they don’t prime their audience properly.

Here are some classic examples of prime and punchline from Eois’ Quote of the Day:

I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
My boss asked me to start the presentation with a joke so I put my payslip on the first slide.
How many CIOs does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Define light bulb?
Can’t we just move it to the cloud?
You can unscrew a light bulb?
The change is 90% complete.
None. We’ll just tell the users darkness is an enhancement.
Two, one to screw in the light bulb, and one to watch him to make sure he doesn’t say ‘nipple.’
It burned out? Are you sure you tried rebooting?
I thought cloud computing made maintenance a thing of the past.
Drive-Thru McDonalds was more expensive than I thought… once you’ve hired the car…
The prime in jokes 1 and 2 starts with the first word and ends with the “so”. The punchline goes from the word following the “so” to the end. In joke 3 the prime is the first line, the punchline(s) are the rest. Joke 4’s prime is up to the first ellipsis, the punchline is the rest.

It’s also worth noting that jokes 1, 2 and 4 would work for anybody in the modern world, joke 3 requires the audience to be part of a defined group; ie, anybody with a boss.


Jokes to Business

Priming is a crucial element in business, especially in CSR, UX, marketing, sales, management, presentations, you pick it, priming’s involved.

Managers who don’t prime their employees for increased and decreased workflows place unnecessary strain on their workers. The simple statements “The pipeline is full” and “We’re having new projects hit the floor next week” alert staff that more will be expected in the not too distant future.

Marketing is all about priming. Any company that pre-releases product to a market segment is priming the entire market for the full product release. Sales professionals (should) carefully craft their pitch (the “setup”) so that the prospect gets a certain expectation and(!!!) has that expectation rewarded. Rewarding is positive priming for whatever follows, disappointment is negative priming for whatever remains.

Ever had an interface or product not live up to its hype? Welcome to negative priming. Disappoint your audience often enough and you’ve negatively primed them to the point where they don’t hang around for the punchline. Not good.

The Priming Nod

I wrote in PsychoBabble – Getting Them to Accept (even if they don’t agree) about nodding to get acceptance if not agreement. Here we take this a step further; we’re going to reinforce an audience/client/prospect’s existing positive belief, lock it into their memory and use it to achieve our goal.

The moment your audience begins to show agreement and/or acceptance with something you’ve offered — be it in a presentation, a sales pitch, a webinar, a meeting, whatever — nod along with them.

Let them start and follow their lead. Most importantly, make sure you nod in the same rhythm in which they’re nodding. Don’t rush them, let their internal processes perform the close for you.

If they’re not nodding, look to see if their tapping their fingers, pursing their lips, cleaning lint off their suit, breathing, it doesn’t matter. Find a rhythm they’re demonstrating and nod in that rhythm. You’re signalling them through multiple sensory channels that they are correct. Are they nodding at something you said? Nod with them. Are they tapping a finger (usually a signal they’re thinking)? Nod in time to their tap (not obviously though!).

You are externally (to them) confirming their internal state and reinforcing their agreement with what you’ve offered. Your external “non-conscious” confirmation causes them to diminish if not dismiss any concerns they had.

Your nod is the prime. While you’re still nodding to their rhythm, offer your “punchline”. The positive belief that you just confirmed is carried to your next statement.

It’s a simple as that. Once they start agreeing, confirm their agreement by showing that you agree with them. You’ve made your point. Time to move on to the next item in the agenda/presentation/pitch. Get them to sign, get them to pay, get them to the next item on the list.

Do this well and the audience/client/prospect becomes your in-house advocate due to their strong positive memory. Any doubts and concerns that remain can be handled by building on the existing strong, positive memory.”