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Maximize Your Influence

Episode 212 - Psychology of Making Your Prospects Wait

Maximize Your Influence
Released on Nov 1, 2017

On this episode Kurt discusses the blunder and ninja of the day, and the psychology of waiting and whether or not is a good or bad thing and if it affects your ability to persuade.

Atmosphere can also include the tension in the air. Is there a rush, or are customers relaxed? What type of climate are you trying to create? Do you want a quick, fast decision, or do you want your customers to feel comfortable enough to stay for a while?

An interesting study on what happens when you create an atmosphere of being rushed can be seen in the following example:

Princeton University psychologists John Darley and Daniel Batson wanted to see how students would respond if they were in a situation replicating the biblical account of the Good Samaritan.  As the story goes, a band of thieves beat, robbed, and left a man traveling alone by the roadside to die. A devout priest and a reputable Levite passed by.

 Neither of the men stopped to help the dying man. Finally, a Samaritan, stopped to help him. The Samaritan bound up his wounds, took him to an inn, and even paid the innkeeper to care for him until he returned.

Darley and Batson asked seminarians on a one-on-one basis to prepare and present a short speech on an assigned biblical topic. The test was set up so that on their way to the location where they would deliver their speech, each student would cross a man slumped over, coughing and groaning.

Which students would actually stop and help? Before preparing their speeches, the students filled out a questionnaire asking why they had chosen to study theology. Then a variety of speech topics were assigned, including the story of the Good Samaritan. As the students were leaving to deliver their speeches, some were told, "You'd better hurry. They were expecting you about three minutes ago." Others were told, "They won't be ready for a few minutes, but you may as well head over now."

Now, most people would assume that seminarians stating on their questionnaires that they had chosen to study theology so they could help people and who were then assigned to speak on the Good Samaritan would be the ones most likely to stop and help the ailing man on their way. Interestingly, neither of those two factors seemed to make much of a difference.

In fact, Darley and Batson stated, "Indeed, on several occasions, a seminary student going to give his talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan literally stepped over the victim as he hurried on his way." The element that seemed to be most influential was whether or not the student was rushed.

Of the students who were told they were already a little late, only 10 percent stopped to help. Of the students who were told they had a little bit more time, 63 percent stopped to help.

We can learn from this example that we can create atmospheres where people are so involved that they ignore other factors they normally would not ignore.  On the flip side, if participants are too relaxed than they become difficult to persuade.

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