Posts Tagged ‘persuasion’

PeopleTriggers Wants to Hear from You!

September 28, 2014 3 comments

Just a short solicitation this month.

Most of the past articles on PeopleTriggers came from whatever fascinating quirk of human nature had my attention in that moment. Many are inspired by books or articles that I was reading at the time. Now, I’d like to put more thought into the topics, lists or how-tos that might be most helpful or valuable to you. I don’t yet do the greatest job of actually asking people what they would like to read, or framing that knowledge in the form of solving a specific problem. I want to get better at that.

As a first step, I’d like to take a few requests.

Are you fascinated by any one particular aspect of psychology, like developmental or educational? Do you want to see articles that are simple explorations (like most that I do now), or do you like the Top 10’s and the 5 Things You Can Do Right Now?

You’ve paid me a lot of kindness, viewing and following this blog. I’d like to see how I can make this experience even more valuable for you. If you’ve been curious about any element of psychology, sociology, motivation, performance or acting, please let me know your thoughts.

Let’s light up the comments field below! Looking forward to hearing from you!


Michael J. Muldoon, Teacher and Coach, 1948-2012

July 20, 2012 8 comments

Michael J. Muldoon

Anyone can talk a good game about emotional intelligence. But when they pass away, and the line for their wake goes out the door and around the building, it’s a sign that they knew a little something about the subject.

Mike Muldoon was a marketer, corporate leadership coach and one of my professors at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He died this past Saturday, aged 63. He was an insightful and demanding instructor, with an irrepressible sense of humor drier than the Mojave. He famously talked through a set of clenched teeth about the things that fashinated him. His students performed loving imitations of his mannerisms. He signed his emails with the tag line: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when I know there are footprints on the moon.” Confidentially, I always thought it was a touch cheesy until now.

He talked about his family constantly, and I met them for the first time at the service. They instantly gave the impression of a warm, close-knit, church-going midwestern family. His son, a tall man with a strong presence, was just married the previous weekend. His daughters, both lovely people, were bearing the receiving line duties with poise. One of them is to be married in less than a month. They had the support of an endless host of friends, family, and well-wishers. Read more…

9 Strategies for Influencing Others

December 18, 2010 2 comments

The Hay GroupThe Hay Group is a management consulting firm that does its own research into motivation strategies and produces self-assessment materials for students and clients. I recently took one of their assessments for an MBA class on leadership strategies. The assessment was called the “Influence Strategies Exercise,” and told me how much I rely on each of nine separate influence strategies. Their workbook then went into detail on each strategy, and the context under which it would work. Here are the nine strategies: Read more…

My Opponent is Hitler – Why Negative Ads Work

October 25, 2010 2 comments

Negative Ads in Election Campaigns“I am a Christian war hero charity donor who will create jobs, lower taxes, increase Medicare and make the sun shine every day. My opponent dresses in women’s clothes to perform Satan-worshiping ceremonies, when he’s not luring small children into his unmarked van.”

Please take a look at these two example TV spots from candidates running against each other fr the vacant U.S. Senate seat in Illinois:

Here is the first, from the Kirk campaign against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias:

Now here’s the “Alexi for Illinois” ad about Republican Mark Kirk

Crazy from Negative AdsAs negative ads go, these are two of the less colorful of the 2010 midterm election cycle. No one is portrayed as a demonic sheep, for example. I see these ads multiple times a day, particularly on Sunday mornings when the talk shows are on.

I’m sure that like me, they both make you roll your eyes. One candidate is a military intelligence veteran who’s here to save us from a mobbed-up failed banker, and the other is a family business owner and staple of the community who is here to save us from a corporate elitist who takes away money from laid-off workers, and eats his young.

We know that both are obviously disingenuous. And they paint a picture of two candidates who are basically equal in everything but voting record: equal in cynicism, equal in lack of class, equal in hackery, equal in personal agenda, etc.

Yet, these ads work. They work even though we think they don’t. They work even though we believe ourselves better people than those who would be affected by such obvious hyperbole. They just work. They’ve always worked.

Here’s why negative advertising works, even though we believe ourselves to be unaffected by such classless tactics. Read more…

Demanding High Status at the Top of a Presentation

October 24, 2010 1 comment

Corporate PresentationsI hear a common complaint about internal company presentations. Internal presentations are apt to be less formal, and therefore audience members commonly to interrupt with questions, tangents, challenges and typing out emails on their Blackberries. Most times its the higher-ranked employees who do this, even though you’d think more senior people would want to set a respectful example.

The reason why is obvious if you understand the Status Transaction: more senior employees carry more status, and therefore feel entitled to distract from your show.

It’s the same reason that people heckle comedians. You’ve gone to all the trouble of creating a “spotlight” of attention in the room, and someone in your audience wants to grab it and put it on them for a while. It’s more than an annoyance; in terms of what’s going on in the room it actually diminishes you and makes you seem smaller than you are.

In fairness, the reason most employees – and high level employees in particular – feel so disposed is that ninety-nine out of every hundred presenters they see waste their time in some way. They plod through slide after tedious slide, dragging their audience through their minutiae without succinct points, message flow, or word efficiency. Therefore most corporate audiences feel no duty to presentation etiquette, and instead prefer to assert themselves over you or tune out.

Next time you have to give an internal presentation to an audience you fear might not stay with you, do this:

Read more…

How To Use Body Rhythms to Captivate People

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

This comes from a book that my friend clued me into, called Winning Body Language, by Mark Bowden.

One of his chapters talks about using body language to take advantage of the way our minds deal with predictability and interruption.


Results from an fMRI experiment in which peopl...

Image via Wikipedia


Pattern interruption is a fascinating topic, and this isn’t the first context where I’ve bumped into it. Here’s a brief bit of background on the concept:

Our world contains much more observable data than the brain can handle, so we take in and process far less information than is available to us. Most of our reactions to the world are based familiar patterns that our subconscious mind has been conditioned to deal with while our conscious mind tunes out.

For example, when you greet someone and shake their hand, it is entirely possible you will never remember shaking their hand at all. Handshakes are so automatic and predictable that we do it without really ever consciously acknowledging what’s going on. We have an internal model for repeated behavior based on how handshakes work, and we assume that handshakes will work identically. Our body just does it, and the rest of our mind can tune it out. We are certain about our situation, and comfortable in that certainty.

We go through the same tune-out process when commercials come on, or when we see banner ads on web sites. That’s why advertisers love the concept of pattern interruption.

Obviously, advertisers don’t want you to be doing any “tuning-out” when their ads are presented. But more than that, there are special psychological implications if you can snap someone back into conscious focus at the moment that their brain is accessing a pattern. If you create uncertainty right at that moment, your subconscious mind gets cut off in the middle of what it was doing, and that creates a couple seconds of hyper-awareness and disorientation. Read more…

The Biggest Pitfall in Work Presentations, and How To Avoid It

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been a little while since I last posted an entry. I’m coming to the end of a double-loaded term in MBA school, and that’s where most of my time has been going recently. Also, I think I’ve been putting too much effort into writing seminal entries: 1,200- to 1,500-word articles that are establishing broad principles. So I’m going to shorten up the posts for a little while, and kick out some more practical, useful content.

Here’s one very practical piece of information, based on a discussion from one of my classes on making presentations in the workplace:


Presentations: Why Should They Care?


The discussion started with the obligatory question. “Why do we make presentations?” It then posed a few potential answers:

  • To persuade
  • To generate buy-in
  • To inform
  • To announce
  • To motivate
  • Etc.

Most of those words would make for pretty good presentations. They imply action and intent. I want to focus on the one that doesn’t: “to inform.”

In freshman scene study class at Wesleyan, most of the beginning acting work came out wretchedly. That was because we neophyte actors had very little understanding of what was actually going on between the people in the scene. Dr. Ficca would ask an actor, “What are you doing up there?”, and the actor would respond, “Well, I’m telling this person so-and-so. I’m informing them. I’m giving exposition.” Then, Dr. Ficca would (lovingly) tell the actor that no one on stage ever, ever simply informs, and that the actor was doing a depressingly bad job with the scene because he wasn’t actually doing anything. Read more…