Changing How You Communicate as a Mentor to Get Desired Results

By Marie Taylor, Steve Crabb

Mentors, if you aren’t getting the desired results, change your communication strategy. Do you know the saying, “The meaning of the communication is the response you get”? The more variety clients have in the way they communicate their ideas, the more success they have in achieving their desired results.

Social psychology experiments confirm that our decisions and behaviors are influenced by many things beyond our conscious awareness. In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Harper Business), he identifies six principles as influencing decisions unconsciously, all of which were tested and validated through social experiments.

Coaching clients to use these principles gives them a wide variety of ways to influence. With each principle, we’ve given examples of how to use it effectively in business. The principles are as follows:

  • Reciprocity: People tend to return a favor. Businesses that offer free samples use this principle to influence potential buyers to feel that they owe a favor.
    • Offer something first. Allow someone to feel indebted to you.
    • Offer something exclusive. This allows someone to feel special.
    • Personalize the offer. Make sure they know the offer comes from you.
  • Commitment and consistency: If people make a verbal commitment, they’re more likely to follow through with an action because they want their actions to remain congruent and consistent with their word.
    • Ask people to start from small actions. If they take the first action, they’re more likely to take the next action.
    • Encourage public commitments. People are less likely to back out of an agreement if they’ve made a public declaration.
  • Social proof: People do things that they see others doing.
    • Users: Approval from current/past users, use ratings, reviews, and testimonials.
    • Peers: Approval from friends and people similar to the listener.
  • Authority: People tend to obey or comply with authority figures, perceived experts, and celebrities:
    • Experts: Approval from credible experts in the relevant field.
    • Celebrities: Approval or endorsements from people who are widely admired.
  • Liking: People are easily persuaded by people they like. This fact can be due to
    • Physical attractiveness: People are influenced by looks. This unfortunate fact of life is clearly demonstrated throughout the advertising world.
    • Similarity: Behave like a friend, not a brand. Show people that you can relate to and understand them.
  • Scarcity: If a perceived scarcity for a product or service exists, this scarcity generates a demand such as the following:
    • Limited number: The item is in short supply and won’t be available when it runs out.
    • Limited time: The item is only available during a fixed time period.
    • Competition: The inclination is to want things more because other people also want them. This tendency can be used in auctions, bids, or countdowns that show a diminishing supply.

These principles are well known and used in business, especially in online marketing and selling where the Internet and emails provide cost-effective platforms to offer incentives and multiple communications including all or some of the six principles.

The principles work because they unconsciously influence the decisions of the person receiving the communication. What we’re unconscious of is difficult to disagree with because it bypasses any conscious resistance.