Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.
By Chris Simmons
Earlier this month, I shared The Manipulative Power of Reciprocity. Now, I’d like to revisit this topic and discuss how reciprocity is legitimately used to create and build rapport and trust. As noted in the original post, reciprocity is a highly effective persuasive tool. As such, it can be used to quickly gain influence by following this time-tested technique.
Begin by sharing something personal with the other party. That said, discretion is the key to success. Share too much and the other individual runs off screaming “TMI!!!!” Worse yet, you’ve lost all credibility because now he/she doubts your mental state for having shared so much with a complete stranger. The personal story you confide must be pertinent to the experience both parties are sharing at that precise moment. In doing so, you’ve demonstrated your trust in them and triggered a psychological need for reciprocity.
Your new friend is now drawn emotionally and psychologically closer to you and will generally respond by sharing something personal about themselves. This can unleash the real power behind psychological reciprocity because the more you share, the deeper you trust. As a result, complete strangers can rapidly find themselves in a legitimate bonding experience.
Reciprocity even works with reserved individuals, although the approach must be much more indirect. In this scenario, begin with questions about abstract issues like his/her thoughts on the ghost tours given in a nearby town or a new restaurant that opened nearby. The conversation-adverse party will generally answer the queries because they are perceived as nonthreatening and seemingly impersonal. In reality, one’s opinion is actually a deeply personal issue. As such, their sharing prompts the reciprocity effect, but on a slower path than in a “normal” setting.
Exercise caution in using reciprocity in this fashion. These approaches are not appropriate, or even possible, in all situations. Instead, view them simply as some of the many available options for building trust and enhancing rapport.
Allan Pease is an Honorary Professor of Psychology at ULIM International University, who researches and studies selling relationships and human communication. He teaches simple, field-tested skills and techniques that get results. And he delivers his message in a humorous way, which motivates people to want to use. Allan’s own experience and record in the field of selling, motivating and training is equaled by few others. He is a born achiever, starting his career at the age of 10. Globally known as “Mr Body Language,” his programs are used by businesses and governments to teach powerful relationship skills. His messages are relevant to any area of life that involves winning people over and getting them to like you, co-operate, follow you or say ‘yes.’
By Chris Simmons
First developed by Yale Professor Victor Vroom, Expectancy Theory holds that a person will act (or not act) based on the certainty of a reward or punishment. Additionally, the more convinced an individual is of a specific outcome, the more motivated he/she becomes to pursue the reward or avoid the punishment.
Thus, Vroom’s formula is Motivation = Reward/Punishment x Personal Expectations x Certainty of Outcome. For example, a budget-conscious individual will generally not drive his/her car over the speed limit if the odds of receiving an expensive traffic ticket are high.
One weakness of Vroom’s theory, however, is the requirement for excellent insights into the mind of the target audience. First and foremost, the individual(s) must perceive the outcome as a valuable reward or unacceptable punishment. Offering someone a promotion, for example, may not be seen as a reward if their work hours increase significantly. Secondly, the audience’s perceived certainty of a reward or punishment may not be accurate. This would lead them to overestimate or underestimate the likelihood of an outcome favorable to them.
On a related note, use caution when employing Vroom’s theory in the workplace or in the sporting world, as the “Expectancy” component can have significantly broader connotations. In these environments, individuals have not just different expectations, but distinct confidence levels regarding what is personally achievable. This can have a significant impact on the use of Vroom as a motivational tool.
By Lauren F. Friedman, Psychology Today
Few experiences are more painful than being excluded and ignored. Over a long period of time, recent research by Kipling Williams and Steve Nida reveals, being ostracized “is a form of social death.” It eventually depletes coping resources; people learn to self-ostracize and come to “accept the essential message of their ostracism –that they are completely insignificant.” Future research will look at why outcast individuals may be drawn into fringe groups, lured by the chance to finally belong.
Lauren F. Friedman, Psychology Today
Self-regulation once seemed to be a solo project. But “a new line of research is showing how the brain “outsources” regulatory tasks to others,” explains Mario Mikulincer, editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. To conserve brain resources for tasks like learning, people may lean on close partners, offloading some of the burden of controlling impulses and emotions. An individual may not be able to calm himself, but if a partner can calm him, the end result is similar.
By Chris Simmons
David C. McClelland and his Harvard associates theorized that human motivation is dominated by three distinct needs: Power (i.e., control, influence, authority); Affiliation (i.e., belonging or relationships); and Achievement (i.e., task accomplishment). Like any other human need, the balance between the three motivational drivers varies by individual. That said, a person’s inspiration and effectiveness is maximized by providing him/her with opportunities that provide the perfect blend of their needs.
For example, an individual motivated by affiliation does NOT want to stand out from the group. As such, to be singled out for public praise runs counter to their primary motivator. Such praise would not be well received and could, in fact, be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Instead, to thank him/her in private is far more effective and appreciated.
Characteristics or Indicators
• Seeks leadership positions.
• Tends to collect status/prestige items.
• Often forceful, outspoken, and demanding
• Generally wins arguments.
• Displays a strong need to influence, teach or manage others.
• Enjoys collaboration and group work.
• Avoids conflict; trends towards “peace-keeper” roles.
• Tends to join organizations.
• Seeks and sustains friendships.
• Does well as a mediator or in jobs devoted to serving others.
• Prefers social or attitudinal feedback.
• Seeks acceptance.
• Takes personal responsibility.
• Values feedback, especially when timely and qualitative.
• Calculating risk-taker.
• Sets high self-standards.
• Prefers solitary/individual work.
• Focused on better performance.
• Seeks challenging opportunities.
Note: McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory is also known as Three Needs Theory, Acquired Needs Theory, Motivational Needs Theory, and the Learned Needs Theory.
By Chris Simmons
In his work on “Motivation Theory,” psychologist Frederick Herzberg discovered that certain job factors satisfy employees, while others are intended solely to keep them from becoming disgruntled.
The Motivators (or “health factors”) focus on job satisfaction. They can drive productivity; provide a stimulating workplace, and real job satisfaction. These factors include recognition, achievement, responsibility, advancement, growth, control, and most importantly – the work itself. Motivators are always linked to the individual’s needs.
Maintenance (or “hygiene factors”) focus on preventing job dissatisfaction. These are the topics that – if they are missing or perceived as unfair – will displease employees. They include administrative policies and practices, supervision, working conditions, status, interpersonal relationships, salary and associated compensation, and job security. Maintenance factors are always linked to the organization’s needs.
The presence of adequate Maintenance factors alone will never be enough to motivate employees to perform excellent work. However, these factors must be present to allow the opportunity for excellent work. As such, Maintenance factors can be seen as environmental or preventative, as they produce no increase in work output, but can strongly limit performance if they are absent or viewed negatively by staff.
Herzberg insists that Motivators and Maintenance factors are not mutually exclusive. For example, in the past, nursing and teaching were examples of jobs with poor Maintenance factors (e.g., low pay, low status, poor working conditions) coupled with strong Motivators (i.e., very important work, high achievement, responsibility). Fortunately, the Maintenance factors for these fields have risen markedly over the years.
Curiously, Herzberg also found that once an individual’s maintainers (i.e., needs) are met, further increases (even doubling or tripling) result in no performance increases.
By Chris Simmons
One of the many tools of persuasion is reciprocity. This simple technique works because when someone does a favor for us, it triggers a psychological need to “return the favor.”
It is why organizations send gifts in their fundraising appeals. Even though you didn’t ask for the item, you now own it and feel indebted to the other party. And remember, the favor received need not be a physical object. Anything provided by another, such as their time, information, or service, is enough to create a sense of obligation. To not reciprocate actually makes many people feel uncomfortable.
The psychological pressure of reciprocity is real. For example, I regularly take road trips with family members. When we stop for gas, many of my relatives that go into the Mini-Mart to use the rest room will buy something on their way out of the convenience store. In their experience, the fact that I just bought gas from the vendor is irrelevant. They made eye contact and/or spoke to the clerk on the way to the rest room and in doing so, became personally obligated to him/her because that’s the person who has to clean the bathroom. Their small purchase – an act of reciprocity – cancels their debt.