7 Tips to Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #1

Cartoon picture of a meetingHave you ever found yourself in a meeting trying to convince a team to implement your recommendations? Perhaps you are a web designer who wants the team to move ahead with your design, or you are a user experience professional who has recommended a re-design to make a product more usable.

You work hard and put your skills and knowledge to use to come up with solutions. It’s frustrating if you can’t see those ideas actually implemented.  It’s often hard for teams to come to agreement about how to fix a problem, or even to agree that there is a problem at all that needs fixing. Even if others agree with you, that’s not the same as actually taking action.

If you want your ideas to be implemented you can’t just talk about them and expect that others will automatically get excited and start implementing changes.

Over the years of my career I have faced the task of influencing a team to implement my recommendations hundreds of times. From my experience, and ideas from my mentors and colleagues, I’ve collected 7 tips to get a team to implement your recommendations.

Tip #1: Hide your top 3 recommendations — Let’s say you have 10 changes you are recommending to the team. Instead of presenting all 10, decide which 3 are the most important for the team to implement. Put those 3 LAST on the list to talk about. Start with the others. Present each of the ideas and be willing to negotiate or even “cave”. Then when you get to the 3 you think are the most important, you can stand firm on those. Don’t expressly say that those 3 are the most important. Instead say, “Hey, I’ve been willing to compromise on all of these other items, you’ve got to give me at least these 3”.

Concession at work — The reason this technique works is because of the principle of concession. In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I talk about the principle of concession. Robert. Cialdini was the first person to identify concession as a powerful influence. In the example above we are using concession in this way:  When you ask someone for something and they don’t say yes, they make you negotiate or compromise, or they outright say no (the first 7 items on your list of 10), they actually set up an indebtedness. They now owe you. So then you ask for your last 3 items on your list and they (largely unconsciously) feel that it’s their turn to say yes.

What do you think? Have you tried this technique? Did it work for you? Did you see more of your recommendations being implemented?

Stay tuned for the rest of the 7 tips in upcoming blog posts.

For more information:

Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? by Susan Weinschenk

The Psychology of Influence by Robert Cialdini

100 Things You Should Know About People: #45 — You Choose (And Vote For) The First One On The List

ballotIt’s almost election time here in the USA, and there are many hotly contested elections at local, state, and national levels. Who will you vote for? According to the research, you are likely to vote for the first person that appears on the ballot!

The order effect — In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?, I write about the “order effect”. You go to a website to buy a tent for camping. You answer some questions about the type of camping you plan to do. The site then recommends four tents that best match your use, and compares the tents based on 10 attributes (how waterproof they are, how much they weigh, how much air ventilation they have, and so on). Two of the tents are “best buys” for the attributes that are important to you. Which tent will you buy?

Order effect at websites –– Felfernig (2007) set up a research study to find out. Even though there were 10 attributes that the tents were compared on, participants focused only on two or three attributes. The researchers varied the order in which the tents appeared on the page: first, second, third, or fourth. It turns out that the most important attribute was not whether the tent was waterproof or if it had plenty of air ventilation. The most important attribute was the order in which the tents appeared on the page! Participants disregarded attributes and simply picked whichever tent was the first one to show. People picked the first tent 2.5 times more than any other. They chose the first tent 200 times; they chose the other three tents (combined) only 60 times. This is an example of the order effect.

We rationalize the choice — The participants explained their choice, however, based on the logical decisions they thought they were making. For example, they explained the choice of tent #1 by saying, “This tent is the most waterproof.” They thought they were weighing all the attributes of all the tents, but in reality they were considering only a few attributes, and even those attributes didn’t matter. All that mattered was an unconscious reaction to which tent showed up first.

The first name on the ballot – According to research by Marc Meredith and Yuvall Salant, the same order effect influences who you vote for. In a wide range of elections, and with order randomized for different elections, Meredith and Salant found that in one out of every 10 elections, the first name on the ballot will win just because it’s first. They also calculated that being in the middle of the list lowers your chance of winning by 2.5 percentage points.

So which position candidate are you going to vote for!

Thanks to the blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree for drawing my attention to this research.

For more information on the Meredith and Sulant research: Kellogg Insight Focus On Research

For the tent research:

Felfernig, A., g. Friedrich, B. Gula, M. Hitz, T. Kruggel, G. Leitner, R. Melcher, D. Riepan, S. Strauss, E. Teppan, and O. Vitouch. 2007. Persuasive recommendation: Serial position effects in knowledge-based recommender systems. In Persuasive Technology, Second International Conference on Persuasive Technology. New York: Springer.

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100 Things You Should Know About People: #40 — "You're Easily Influenced, but I'm not"

Woman looking skeptical
Photo by Katie Ricard

I have been doing a lot of public speaking about my book and the ideas of persuasion. Early in my talks I often discuss John Bargh’s research on how much we are influenced by factors that we are not aware of. Bargh had people unscramble sets of words to make sentences, for example, he would ask people to choose 4 out of 5 words and make a sentence out of them:

he florida today lives now in

would become: “He now lives in Florida”.

Some people would get sets of words that had a theme of old: such as Florida, retired, old, elderly. Other people would get sets of words that had a young theme: such as youth, energy, lively.  A third group would get neutral words that were neither old nor young. After unscrambling the words and making sentences he would then have them walk down the hall to find him. Bargh measured how long it took each person to walk down the hall. People who had been using the “old” words, took much longer to walk down the hall. They had been unconsciously affected by the words. But when asked if they thought the words had influenced them they said no, and when I talk about this study I get the impression that most people in the audience believe that others would walk slowly, but that these words wouldn’t have affected them.

“I’m not that influenced” — In another example, I share in my talks about the power of social validation: how ratings and reviews at websites have a huge influence over what people decide to do (it’s because when we are uncertain we look to others to decide what to do). And everyone in the room nods and talks about how this is true, that other people are very influenced by ratings and reviews, but most people I am speaking to think that they themselves are not very affected. I talk about study after study on persuasion and how much we are affected by pictures, images, words, and that we don’t realize we are being influenced. And the reaction is always similar: “Yes, other people are affected by these things, but I am not.”

The third person effect — In fact, this belief that “others are affected but not me”, is so common that there is research on it, and it has its own name: the “third person effect”.  The research shows that most people think other people are influenced by persuasive messages, but that they themselves are not, and that this perception is false. The “third person effect” seems to be especially true if you think you aren’t interested in the topic. For example, if you are not in the market to buy a new TV, then you will tend to think that advertising about new TVs won’t affect you, but the research says that it will.

Why do we deceive ourselves this way? — So why the self-deception? It’s partly because all this influence is happening unconsciously. We literally aren’t aware that we are being influenced. And it’s also partly because we don’t like to think of ourselves as so easily swayed, or so “gullible”. To be gullible is to not be in control, and our old brain, the part of our brain that is concerned with survival, always wants us to be in control.

What do you think? Why do we believe that others are so easily influenced but not ourselves?

For those of you who like to read research:

Bargh, John A., Mark Chen, Lara Burrows. 1996. Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol 71(2), 230-244.

Chen, Yi-Fen, Herd behavior in purchasing books online, Computers in Human Behavior, 24, (2008), 1977-1992.

Bryant Paul; Michael B. Salwen; Michel Dupagne, The Third-Person Effect: A Meta-analysis of the perceptual hypothesis. Mass Communication and Society, 1532-7825, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2000, Pages 57 – 85

Perloff  Third-Person Effect Research 1983–1992: A Review and Synthesis.
Int J Public Opin Res.1993; 5: 167-184

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A Five Minute Version of Neuro Web Design

I get wonderful emails from readers of my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click. People write me and say how much they loved the book, etc, etc. It’s one of the benefits of writing a book!

A request from a reader — A few days ago I got one of those emails and the author asked if I had any presentations or slides that I could share with him. He was putting together a presentation for his management at work about the concepts in the book.

I procrastinate! — This is a request I get a lot, but I had never gotten around to putting together a Slideshare presentation for example, and uploading it. This is mainly because my talks and presentations are highly visual. I would have to do an audio annotation for the slides to make any sense.

I break the procrastination. On a weekend no less — When I got the email from my reader I decided that it was about time that I give it a whirl, so this weekend found me paring down my usual talk on the topic to a smaller number of slides. Then I donned a set of headphones with a microphone, and started talking.

I get it done in an hour — Slidecast (the part of slideshare where you add audio), was not the most intuitive interface, but it wasn’t too bad. I would say it took me about an hour from start to finish… from deciding on the slides, to recording the audio, and re-recording, and re-recording (in GarageBand), uploading everything and syncing up the slides with the audio (that was the klugy interface part).

See what you think, and give me feedback — It’s not perfect, but it’s a good first try. You can watch and listen below (the embed tool from Slideshare is very easy to use). It’s about 5 minutes in length. I’d love to get feedback from all of you about  this format, whether you think I should do more of these, and what topics I should talk/present about in them. So respond to me via the comments below or drop me an email at weinschenk@gmail.com. And if you don’t have the book yet, then click on one of the links in the sidebar and check it out.

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100 Things You Should Know About People: #31 — The Desire For Control And Choice Is Built In

picture of book coverI’ve just started reading Sheena Iyengar’s new book, The Art of Choosing. I’ve been a fan of Dr. Iyengar’s work for a while. She’s the author of the famous “jam study”, that I talked about in a previous blog.   (I’ll do a book review of the new book in a future post). Early in the book she talks about some of the research on choosing and control.

The paradox of choosing — In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz talks about how much we want to have lots of choices. The paradox is that if we have lots of choices then we tend not to choose at all. I have a chapter in my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click devoted to our need to have choices, and the resulting inability to choose.

The innate desire to control — The desire to control our environment is built into us. This makes sense, since by controlling our environment we likely increase our chances of surviving. Iyengar’s discussion in her new book about choices got me thinking about control, and the relationship between having lots of choices and being in control.  The desire to control is related to the desire to have choices.

The need to control starts young — In a study of infants as young as 4 months, the researchers attached babies’ hands to a string. The infants could move their hands to pull a string which would cause music to play. Then the researchers would then detach the string from the music control. They would play music at the same intervals, but the infant had no control over when the music would play. The babies would become sad and angry, even though the music was still playing at the same intervals. They wanted to control when the music played.

We think that choices = control — In an experiment with rats, the rats were given a choice of a direct path to food or a path that had branches and therefore required choices to be made. The rats preferred the path with branches. Monkeys and pigeons learn to press buttons to get food, but they prefer to have more than one button even though it doesn’t get them any more food. Even though it isn’t necessarily true, we equate having choices with having control. If are to feel in control, then we need to feel that our actions are powerful and that we have choices to make. Sometimes having a lot of choices makes it harder to get what we want, but we still want the choices so that we feel in control of the decision.

For more information about the books mentioned in this post (affiliate links):

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100 Things You Should Know About People: #29 – Brand Names Talk To Our "Old" Brains

You are planning on buying a new TV. Will you buy a brand you recognize? Or will you go for the unfamiliar “no name” brand that is less expensive? What if you are buying luggage?

Talking to the “old brain” — In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I write about the “old brain”. This is the part of the brain that developed first from an evolution point of view (sometimes called the reptilian brain because it developed with reptiles). The old brain is continually scanning the environment and asking, “Can I eat it?”, “Will it kill me?”, “Can I have sex with it?”. Basically the old brain is interested in food, survival and sex. This pre-occupation with our well-being also makes the old brain sensitive to the idea of loss. The old brain is therefore more motivated by the fear of losing something than it is by the possibility of gain.

Brands activate “safety” — Brand names talk to the old brain because they activate the idea of safety. A brand name means that the item is not an unknown. And if the brand name is positive to you, then the brand name signals safety to the old brain. (If you have had a negative experience with the brand then it will be the opposite. I had a bad experience with Panasonic once many many years ago, and for over two decades I wouldn’t buy anything made by Panasonic. Recently I’ve reluctantly let go of that “ban”, but I still prefer not to buy Panasonic. I can’t even remember what the product was that upset me so much, but in my head Panasonic = maybe not reliable).

Brands are shortcuts — One of the things our old brains are really good at is making quick “blink” decisions. You can’t consciously process all the information that comes into your brain. The estimate is that 40,000,000 inputs come into your brain from your senses every SECOND. You can only process 40 of those consciously, so it is your unconscious that is processing most of that information, and it uses lots of shortcuts to make the processing go faster. Brands are a shortcut. A brand you have a positive and emotional experience with equals a signal to the old brain that this is safe.

Brands are even more powerful online — I’m currently analyzing some data I’ve collected on people making purchases online. (I’ll be sharing that data in another post shortly). The study I conducted has to do with customer reviews. But an interesting piece of information that emerged along the way was how important brand was to the purchasing decision. Some of the participants in the study were asked to shop for luggage online, and others were asked to shop for TVs. All the participants commented during the study about the brand, saying things like, “I don’t know. This one is a good price, but I’ve never heard of this brand”.  In the absence of being able to see and touch the actual product, the brand becomes the “surrogate” for the experience. This means that brands have even more power and sway when you are making an online purchase.

What has been your experience? Do you go for “name” brands more when you are shopping online?

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Who is The Most Romantic?: The Brain Science of Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's DayIt’s almost Valentine’s Day and you go online to look for a gift to buy that special someone in your life. What will you buy? I posed that question to both men and women in a small research study I conducted recently. And the answers I got surprised me.

When research answers a different question than the one you meant to ask — Actually, the question I thought I was studying was about how much money people would be spending online. I had a theory that if people stated up front what their Valentine’s gift budget was, then they would be more likely to stick with that budget. So I ran two groups: people who were asked how much money they planned to spend before the shopping started, and people who weren’t. And I split both of those groups into men and women to see if there were any gender differences to the budget question.

The budget question was a bust — It turns out that when you ask people what their budget is, it doesn’t affect how much they buy at all, not men, not women. I saw the lack of a trend right away as I started analyzing the data, but then the data told me something totally different.

The gifts that men and women were buying were VERY different. Watch the video first, and then read on:

A disclaimer — This is not a formal research study with statistical analysis. It’s an exploratory study. Having said that, though, I was careful to present everyone with the same instructions, and I had people responding from all over the USA.

So here are the findings — Men picked traditionally romantic Valentine’s gifts, such as flowers, chocolate, and jewelry. Just about all the men picked these traditional gifts. The only slight deviation was one man who said he was buying tickets to dinner and a show. None of the women picked what would be considered a traditional Valentine’s gift. None. The women were purchasing: books, cell phones, pajamas, keychains, TVs….

Does this mean the men are more romantic? — Well, I guess it depends on what you call romantic. The men definitely mentioned love more than the women. The men would say things like:

Continue reading “Who is The Most Romantic?: The Brain Science of Valentine's Day”

100 Things You Should Know About People: #24 — You Are Most Affected By Brands and Logos When You Are Sad Or Scared

Here’s Scenario 1: You get together with your friends to watch your home team play a game on TV. They win! After an afternoon of fun and friendship you stop at a grocery store on your way home. You are in a good mood. Are you more or less likely to buy the usual cereal you always buy or will you try something new?

Here’s Scenario 2: It’s Friday afternoon and your boss calls you in to tell you that he’s not happy with your latest project report. This is the project that you repeatedly told him was in trouble and you asked that more staff be assigned. You feel all your warnings were ignored. Now he’s telling you that this work will reflect badly on you and you may even lose your job. On the way home you stop at the grocery store. You are sad and scared. Are you more or less likely to buy the usual cereal you always buy, or will you try something new?

You Want What’s Familiar — A series of research studies by Marieke de Vries of Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, shows that when people are sad or scared, they want what is familiar. When people are in a happy mood they are not as sensitive to what is familiar, and are willing to try something new and different. Continue reading “100 Things You Should Know About People: #24 — You Are Most Affected By Brands and Logos When You Are Sad Or Scared”

100 Things You Should Know About People: #17 — Your Unconscious Knows 1st

You are shopping for a new computer and the salesperson you are talking to is offering you what seems to be a good deal. And yet there is a part of you that feels uncomfortable and isn’t sure if this is the right computer, or the right deal, or the right store for you. If you had to articulate why you felt uncomfortable you might not be able to say why, or you’d make up a reason, but that might not really be the reason. So what’s going on?

Your unconscious mind is faster than your conscious mind — One of my favorite pieces of research is the study by Bechara and Damasio. It’s a little complicated to explain, so a few months ago I put together a short video “re-enactment” to help describe the research. I have a summary below as well:

Continue reading “100 Things You Should Know About People: #17 — Your Unconscious Knows 1st”

Recovery.Gov Website — For The Average Citizen?…Not

Have you been wondering where all the “stimulus” money is going that the US government is giving away to get us out of the recession? The US government has a website where you can go to look up anything and everything you want to know about the stimulus money.

I’ve created a video podcast review of the site:

Have you been to the site Recovery.Gov? Do you agree with my review?

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