3 Ways to Influence Behavior


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How can you close deals without influencing the other side? You simply can't. Influencing behavior is key to success not just in business, but in life. It's important to remember when trying to influence behavior is that human nature reaction is the beginning of decision making. Here are 3 ways you can use human nature to help influence behavior. 

1. Brace the counterpart for the strike

Reactions are inevitable. If you take a moment to hypothesize how a counterpart might react to a particular statement or circumstance, you can probably put it into words. To get yourself started building comfortability with this approach, focus on just the 4 primary emotional reactions; happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. Narrowing potential reactions to these 4 greatly raise accuracy. When you need to walk someone through a circumstance lead into it with one of the 4, “this will scare you,” “what I have to say will make you angry,” etc.

Stating how the person on the other side will react braces them for how they should interpret what you say. In fact, negative emotions are reduced because the person is not surprised by the feeling. Emotions tend to be exaggerated when the reaction is a surprise. Human nature shows us that if we are somewhat prepared for what is coming at us, we are more mentally agile in how we respond. This is the reason people make plans in life, so adaptation is easier. If you want to make decision making easier, you should plan for the emotional reaction and articulate it before the other side is surprised by it.


2. Create trust through understanding

The most popular way to create trust is by finding common ground. Common ground is, in fact, a good way to build trust. There is one glaring hole with this approach, what do you do if there is no common ground? What do you do if they have preconceived notions, already don’t like you for various reasons, or are being forced to work with you? There are plenty of conversations that take place with people whether internally or externally where you have nothing in common. Often you unknowingly resort to bargaining, “I need this from you” and “I can’t give you that.” When that type of conversation starts, you are in fact engaged in a haggle.

The answer to building trust in any situation is the use of empathy, articulating the justifications of the other side. At Black Swan, we tend to try and use negotiation skills that apply across the board despite culture or logic. No matter who you talk to they have their own line of reasoning for their position, whether or not it makes sense to you is irrelevant. What applies to you is whether or not you can verbalize that line of thinking, as opposed to whether you can relate to a life experience.


3. Uncover the value drivers

Simply put, this refers to black swans. No matter how you slice it, negotiation is an information gathering process. You need information from your counterpart to their influence behavior. Some of the information is predictable, like negative human nature emotions. Other information can be something the other side is actively hiding from you, or they may be ignorant to the importance of how it affects you directly. These pieces are what you are looking to bring into the light.

The easy answer to finding those drivers of value, religion or mission is the Negotiation 9. But to whittle down the list, even more, LMQ. LMQ means label, mirror & question. We heard this approach from one of our attendees at our recent event in NY. This person says they use that acronym to help keep them stay grounded and focused on the process of interaction. This simple thought pattern is also predicated on situational awareness. Being able to recognize which skill to use in the moment, which is most effective for your current purpose is key. A “how” question may fit nicely, but you might get more traction with a label or no-oriented question.

At the end of the day, negotiation is about gathering information, deciphering how that information affects a person’s emotional makeup is where EQ meets the road. People internally have the most trouble agreeing when they don't trust or feel understood. The beauty about the N9 is they work on both fronts at the same time.


Brandon Voss

About The Author

Brandon Voss is the President of The Black Swan Group. Brandon has been instrumental in adapting the FBI’s hostage negotiation techniques to the business world. In addition to training clients, Brandon has guest lectured at USC Marshall School of Business and Georgetown McDonough School of Business.