We all have designs on others. And they on us. This desire to influence is innate: From humankind’s earliest days, to survive we had to persuade others to join in the hunt for the wooly mammoth, and agree on enemies to fight. Science tells us the brain actually evolved to want to change others. It’s why laments that “the other side doesn’t listen to reason” are probably useless. Jonathan David Haidt, acclaimed professor of social psychology at New York University’s Stern School of Business explains: We evolved to listen to reasoning that supports whatever our own conclusion, not others. We evolved not so much to learn – as to gain advantage in influencing others.
Having spent 40 years researching and speaking around the world (including SXSW this year) and professionally practicing (via marketing) the psychology of human decision-making and behavioral economics, my sense is that never before have people been so obsessed with influencing others to buy into whatever they’re advocating.
It’s not just that social media platforms and digital technology now enable people to scale their efforts at influence. It’s also the plethora of social activists today, brands desperate to accelerate growth, the big shift to direct-to-consumer marketing where the ability to move behavior is paramount for any marketer. And given the imperative of all organizations to transform for future, business and career survival depends on getting people to change.
No matter your job title or the industry in which you work, today we’re all in the same business: The business of trying to change human behavior (more at LFandS.com. ) And it’s serious business: whether or not we really do move minds and behaviors can now be tracked-and in real time. Our employability will increasingly depend on being really good at it. The ability to change people’s attitudes and behaviors is now a core competency required of us all.
So it’s imperative we learn all we can on the moral and ethical ways that work. It’s why I recommend the article How to Change Anyone’s Mind in the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Edition of February 22-23. By Wharton Marketing Professor Jonah Berger, it’s a great read. It suggests his new book (The Catalyst: How to change anyone’s mind) would be a wise investment.
But then, far be it from me to try and influence you.
Lindsay Foresight & Stratagem identifies emerging issues and opportunities on the horizon, connecting dots others don’t see to have insight and foresight that, when taught via speeches or workshops, reframes situations, opens minds and changes conversations in a way leads to more effective business, brand, innovation and marketing strategies. The firm’s research and playbooks are informed and vetted by a global think tank.