7 Secrets of Persuasion: A book review by Bob Morris

7-secrets7 Secrets of Persuasion: Leading-Edge Neuromarketing Techniques to Influence Anyone
James C. Crimmins
Career Press (September 2016)

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and they will forget what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Actually, rather than “secrets,” James Crimmins carefully identifies and then brilliantly examines some of the most significant revelations from a number of recent research studies that identify “neuromarketing techniques to influence anyone.”

He observes: “Recent discoveries in psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience dramatically expand what we know about how we choose and should change how we attempt to persuade. We’ve learned that consciousness is not central to most of our decisions. It feels central, but scientific evidence shows that consciousness usually takes a back seat. This turns the conventional wisdom on its head and may explain why persuasion attempts, whether of one person or of many, often don’t work.” What does? Also, how and why? Crimmins wrote this book to answer these questions.

These are among the several5 passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of his coverage:

o The Lizard (Pages 13-25)
o Persuasion’s Two Challenges (25-29)
o Mental Availability (32-36
o The Preference of Others (54-67)
o Which Is Easier to Change, the Act or the Attitude? (72-74)
o Tools to Change the Act (80-82)
o The Leaky Hose (82-86)
o Think Big (94-95)
o Intel Inside (99-104)
o Unique or Motivating: an Easy Choice (106-109)
o Language Camouflage (113-118)
o Unearthing True Motivations (119-120)
o Show People How to Feel the Way They Would like to Feel (133-138)
o Self-Image Enhancement 140-142)
o Art of Conversation (57-163)
o Art of Generating Inference (163-167)
o Art of Engagement (167-171)
o Personal Persuasion (178-181)

Some of the most valuable information, insights, and counsel provided in the book focus on two mental systems: the automatic system (our nonconscious mental processes) and the reflective system (our conscious mental processes). “We now know the automatic system affects all our choices and it is the sole influence in many…The automatic mental system is what Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein refer to as the “lizard system” in Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, published by Yale University Press (2008).

Most of us are infrequently in a situation that requires us to persuade others to accept ideas, opinions, recommendations, etc. This could be characterized as a “lizard encounter.” We face three separate but interdependent challenges:

1. Understand what the lizard is and does…what it isn’t and doesn’t do.
2. Understand the lizard’s language.
3. Understand the lizard’s “hot buttons” and know how and when to punch them.

James Crimmins thoroughly prepares his reader to respond effectively to all three challenges. These are among his concluding remarks: “Because the remarkably capable lizard is in charge of most decisions, reasoned argument is a waste of time. You can only persuade the lizard if you speak its language and show the lizard a better way to fulfill its desires.”

You would be well-advised to read this book before your competition does.

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