Fascinate: A book review by Bob Morris

FascinateFascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation
Sally Hogshead
HarperBusiness/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (2010)

A brilliant explanation of the power of fascination based on sound judgment and impeccable character

According to Sally Hogshead, “the ability to fascinate isn’t witchcraft or hypnotism. And it doesn’t come from wearing nightcaps or eating green peas. It is a tool. Rather than something to be feared, it is a discipline to be mastered. Fascination is born of a natural instinct to influence the behavior of others. But the key to mastering fascination is effectively activating the seven triggers.” They are best discussed within the narrative, in context. Suffice to say now that, collectively, the seven enable those who master them to elicit just about any reaction in others, ranging from a craving for sensory pleasure to comfort derived from trust. Here’s an insight that suggests an important point:

“Whether you realize it or not — whether you intend to or not — you’re already using the seven triggers. The question is, are you using the right triggers, in the right way, to get your desired result. By mastering the triggers, your ideas become more memorable, your conversations more persuasive, and your relationships more lasting.”

Obviously, sound judgment is needed when deciding which trigger to use when. Impeccable character is also needed to ensure that activation of a trigger serves a worthy purpose. Both judgment and character are essential to the given situation. As I worked my way through Hogshead’s book, I began to make correlations with another source of appeal. Some of the most evil people throughout history were both fascinating and charismatic. Even today, books about them continue to be written. Adolph Hitler, for example, did not possess the fascination that Hogshead has in mind. He had mastered several of the triggers, creating alarm because of the threats that Germany then faced and trust in his leadership, one that would eliminate those threats. In stunning contrast, Mohandas Gandhi (not discussed in this book) activated the same triggers to secure freedom and independence for hundreds of millions of people in his native land…and he did so without violence. Hogshead has much of value to say about these issues in the chapters on “Alarm” (Pages 101-116) and “Trust” (169-185).

These are among the questions to Hogshead responds:

o What is fascination? What is it not?
o What are the pluses and minuses of fascination?
o What are the trends that drive the need for a new form of persuasion?
o How best to develop that skill?
o How to decide whether or not someone or something is (key word) authentically fascinating?
o How almost any person can become (again, key word) authentically fascinating?
o Why are people (at least some people) seduced by anticipation of pleasure?
o Why are people (at least some people) intrigued by unanswered questions?
o Why are people (at least some people) proactive when threatened by negative consequences?
o Why do people (at least some people) fixate on symbols of rank, respect, power, etc?
o Why are human beings vulnerable to being controlled by what is fascinating?

Readers will also appreciate Hogshead’s provision of “Fascination at a Glance” (Pages 245-250) which reviews, briefly, topics that include “Overall Principles,” “Trends Driving the Need for Fascination,” and “Steps to Find the Edge of the Bell Curve.”

I have always been fascinated by who and what fascinates me but, until reading this book, I had given little thought to whether or others find me fascinating. My guess is that is also true of many others who read this book. While re-reading the book prior to setting to work on this review, I was again struck by this fact: the abundance of information, insights, and counsel provided in the volume will help people to become more authentically fascinating, and, help them also to determine whether or not whoever and/or whatever fascinates them is indeed authentic. Thank you, Sally Hogshead, for increasing substantially my understanding of human nature.

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