Steve Martin is the CEO of INFLUENCE AT WORK and co-author of New York Times bestseller, YES! 60 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion. This May/ June, Steve joins Dr. Robert Cialdini LIVE in Australia to present The Power Of Influence & Persuasion.
We caught up with Steve to ask him about some insights for increasing our influence in a competitive landscape and some of the common errors people make. Plus, Steve gives us a taste of what Aussie audiences can expect from this unique one day event.
JDR: You’ve been working with Dr. Robert Cialdini for seventeen years now. What was it that first attracted you to his work, and how did you come to work with him?
Steve Martin: “Wow, is it really that long? I first made contact with Bob when I was still working in the corporate world. Like a lot of the folks who will be comin g to the events in Sydney and Melbourne I was interested in how we could use Cialdini’s principles to increase the effectiveness of our sales teams, improve our marketing strategies and write better business proposals. So I contacted his office. A few months later we met at Arizona State University where I undertook his training. Very quickly I realized how we could combine robust science and real world application to develop meaningful and commercially successful strategies for businesses. It was a couple of years after that we wrote Yes!”
JDR: And as the title suggests the book YES! 60 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion is packed full of techniques to increase persuasiveness at work and in our personal lives. What are some of the more important things to remember when it comes to persuading others?
Steve Martin: One crucial thing is to be aware of the limitations of trying to inform people into change. In fact there’s little evidence that providing information alone is a good strategy for change; primarily because our lives are already overloaded by the stuff. Trying to inform people into change is like pouring more water into an already full bucket and expecting the pail to magically increase in capacity. Now let me be clear. I’m not to saying that information isn’t important. Of course it is. But only when people pay attention to it. The most successful persuaders take steps to ensure that the information they present is framed in a specific context so that it captures attention. As Cialdini so astutely points out, “having a compelling case to make is not the same as making your case compellingly.” Yes! is collection of 60 of these ‘context setters’. Simply put, they are small changes that anyone can make that will increase their influence without too much effort or cost.
JDR: Most businesses want to create a cohesive, co-operative workplace where employees all work to their best ability. What are some of the common pitfalls you see business leaders and communicators make when attempting to create such environments?
Steve Martin: A common mistake is to highlight the regrettable frequency of the unhelpful actions and behaviours that occur in the workplace. Leaders lament that meetings always start late. Manager complain about the lack of communication between departments. Or how common is for people to not respond to emails or share information in a timely manner. It’s an easy trap into which many fall – it’s not just businesses. Health Centres decry the number of patients who miss appointments. Councils condemn the increase in fly-tipping. Voicing frustrations is understandable but it is important to remember that lurking within the message ‘look at all the people who are doing this undesirable thing’ is an undercutting and incredibly unhelpful one. ‘Look at the people who are!’
It’s as if some people hear the message and say to themselves, “if everyone else is doing it then it’s probably OK for me to do it too.” Evidence suggests that some invariably do. As a result messages like these often lead to an increase, not reduction, in the problem being addressed.
JDR: So what could managers do instead?
Steve Martin: You know there a lot of research that shows how incredibly impactful it can be to simply show gratitude and appreciation. In one recent series of studies researchers found that people who received an expression of gratitude from a colleague they had helped were more than twice as likely to help them out again. Another study found that after staff in a call centre were genuinely thanked by one of the firm’s directors they made 50 percent more phone calls the next week. If you want to promote healthy cooperation and a motivating environment that’s an immediately costless thing any manager or leader can do.
JDR: You’ve worked with the world’s largest organisations to fuel growth through the power of influence and persuasion. GE, Heineken, Novartis, Roche, Unilever to name a few… can you give us one quick story about how your work has brought change and fueled success for an organization.
Steve Martin: We’ve been working with a Global Building Supplies company for the last year or so. The sales managers were given copies of Yes! and they also attended a training where learned about, and agreed to test, three changes to their standard sales practices. They measured a 13.4% increase in sales the following quarter that were attributable to those changes. In cash terms it was just over $11million.
JDR: So what can our audiences in Sydney and Melbourne expect to gain from Dr. Robert Cialdini and you when you visit this May and June.
Steve Martin: Your audiences are in for a treat. In the morning sessions Dr. Cialdini will be presenting his research on the Universal Principles of Persuasion as well as stunning new insights from his latest book Pre-Suasion. In the afternoon I am going to take those insights and show how anyone can create a system of successful influence for any business challenge or issue. Bob and I aren’t just going to teach you the science. We’re going to show you how to put it into practice too. I’ll be sharing case studies and practical examples as well as results from the very latest experiments we are conducting. We want to build a bridge from insight to implementation. And give everyone a structure for organizing everything they have learned so they can put it into practice when they get back to their workplace.
Steve Martin joins Dr. Robert Cialdini for extraordinary one day events in Sydney and Melbourne this May/June. Don't miss The Power Of Influence and Persuasion. You’ll come away equipped with the concepts, tools and strategies to take your influence to the next level.