I was at a speaker training workshop recently. There were about 30 of us on the course who regularly do speaking engagements and were keen to fine tune our skills. One man, whose business card looked like it had been printed at the local dollar store, approached me (and everyone else on the course) and thrust his card toward my chest, pitching his unsolicited credentials as a speaking coach. Yikes!
Needless to say, I formed somewhat of an aversion to him fairly quickly. What created this powerful “NO” and what could he have done differently to get people to say “yes”? Getting ‘yeses’ is what psychologists call “compliance.”
Here are six common compliance strategies you can use in your own life:
1. Smile – Louis Armstrong was right: When you smilin the whole world smiles with you. A smile is contagious. It improves our mood and can make us appear more attractive to others. A study (1) published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that an attractive face activated the medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in the brain and that this region processes sensory reward. Responses in the OFC were enhanced by smiling and this suggests that you actually feel rewarded when you see another person smile. This leads right into strategy number two:
2. Reciprocation – Giving people something for free. If a smile creates a sense of reward for those experiencing your smile, you have in a sense created a gift for which people like to reciprocate. Whoever is on the receiving end of your gift is then in your debt. I know that sounds cold, but it isn’t meant to. Dean Rieck (author of Copy Blogger) describes this as the Rule of Reciprocity that says “we are all bound — even driven — to repay debts of all kinds.”
It doesn’t take much to activate the rule, just a genuine act of giving. Here are 3 I like to use:
1. An email (Following a networking event I like to email an article I think would be of interest or use to someone I’ve met.
2. A compliment (But be authentic – I love to notice what unique skills other people have and enjoy telling them I noticed). I’m also really good at noticing who’s had a haircut. Men love this, because it’s usually women whose hair gets noticed.
3. A download (Make it really valuable – I offer a really well written ebook on my site when people subscribe: The 7 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Correcting Their Posture) It took me a good number of weeks to write this and I even hired a designer to do the illustrations. Don’t skimp on your free gifts – your customers will assume if your free gifts are this good, then your paid services and products must be amazing!
3. Be Likeable – The speaking coach that showed up at my speaker’s training day wasn’t very likeable; he came across as abrupt and a little weird. Be personable. As my father always said: “Flattery will get you everywhere.” If you are going to praise and compliment someone, you better be authentic. False flattery is a bit, used car salesman and should be avoided.
The best way to be likeable is to find something you have in common. Build rapport. This isn’t always easy but the best way to find out what you have in common is to ask questions:
1. So tell me, how on earth did you ever decide to launch such a creative business? Notice, I did two things here- I used a compliment and asked a question to find out what we have in common.
2. Wow, really you have four children? Do any of them take after you?
3. How often do you run?
4. Social Proof – Whether we like it or not, we care a LOT about what other people think. What would you do? What do you think? Do you like her? Did it help you? Then we act accordingly, all thanks to the impact of social proof.
This is where testimonials and stories come into play. True story: When I was 43, I decided to leave a successful private practice as a chiropractor and took my posture tips online in the form of Posture Videos on Youtube. In less than 12 months I had a million views and now, over 3 million views and growing fast! People love this story (I love it too) because it’s true, it tells the story of an ordinary person who does something extraordinary, and (most important) it provides social proof. When people see that what you offer is valued by other people, they are more likely to give it a try themselves.
5. Open Posture – No discussion on compliance strategies (getting people to say yes) would be complete if we didn’t talk about the power of posture. Your posture speaks volumes about you. What is yours saying?
Folded arms – cold, on guard and defensive
Fidgeting – nervous
Slouching round shoulders – lacks confidence
Open posture looks attractive and confident and attractive confident people get more yeses. If you don’t know how to stand tall, with open posture, perhaps it is time to get Back to Basics.
1. Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(2):147-55.