Attended a great talk at the British Psychological Society last night by Christian Jarrett (who writes tonnes on psychology – find him on twitter @psych_writer) who had pulled together some really interesting pieces of research that give clues as to how to behave if you want people to do what you want!
There are six tips. Some obvious, one counter intuitive, one rather creepy!
- Be nice and polite. Research has found that when you ask someone something (i.e. can you fill in a questionnaire) that 57% of the time people will do this for you. When you premise the same question with “can you do me a favour and…” the amount of people offering to help goes up to 84%. So minding your Ps & Qs works!
- Warm up the person you need a favour from by apologising for something that isn’t your fault. The example from the research given was asking to borrow a mobile. When a person just asked to borrow the mobile 9% of people handed it over. When it was preceded with a “I’m sorry about the weather” that figure leapt to 47%! Apparently the superfluous apology makes you seem more empathetic and trustworthy.
- Play happy background music when you are asking for something you want. When a lecturer asked students to lie for him when no music was playing, 40% agreed to. With positive music in the background this rose to 70%!
- Make someone relieved. Researchers have set up situations where a person is fearful (thinking they were about to be in trouble with the police) and then let them realise that no police were around, giving them a sense of relief. 59% of those who went through this situation agreed to fill in a 10-minute survey straight afterwards from a road side researcher. Only 46% agreed when they had not had this experience of fear and then relief first.
- Confuse people by not reacting in the way they expect. There is a psychological concept called ‘Interpersonal complementarity’ where we naturally follow the social cues around us. Someone smiles, we smile back. Someone puts out their hand to shake it, we do the same. A Stanford Psychologist used this to his advantage when he realised he was in a difficult situation with a potential mugger barging into him aggressively. He fought an aggressive reaction back and instead pretended to know the guy, was overly friendly and completely caught him off guard, giving him time to escape safely.
- Lightly touch someone on the arm. OK, so this one sounds a little creepy but researchers in France went clubbing and asked people to dance. 43% said yes. When they asked someone to dance and lightly touched their arm at the same time 65% agreed. This has been replicated in customer service jobs where positive feedback for the staff member has increased with arm touching and waiters have received bigger tips. It apparently makes you seem more attractive and dominant.