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Weapon of Influence #4: Adaptation

Weapon of Influence #4

Adaptation as a Weapon of Influence

Adaptation is the changing of your own behavior or emotional state to closely match or mimic the target prospect. Research has shown that the effective sales professional is the one who can develop rapport through adapting to a wide variety of personality types. (Buzzotta 1981). Mimicking others has been shown to create rapport and a sense of liking between two individuals (Lakin 2006). Additionally, research shows that perceived attitude similarity can automatically activate certain cognition processes associated with liking someone (Park 2005). One corporate NLP consultant trains each of his clients to start each sales presentation with a clean slate and adapt each section of it to the customer (Lakin 2001). This often means taking on a similar disposition or physical characteristic.

Mirroring is when you display a perspective on life or that is harmony with the target person’s own view. This process of mirroring someone’s is something that naturally happens with friends, family members, and coworkers. Most people will naturally adapt many of their own personal characteristics to be more like the person they are interacting with without even thinking about it. This explains part of someone’s natural ability to socialize or have “social intelligence.” Those that aren’t naturally aware of these processes can improve them through practice and simply be cognizant of their existence (Hathaway 2001). Research studies have found that people were more likely to fulfill a request from someone that has used common stereotypes that define them within an in-group of that person while addressing an out-group. Rapport is more likely when the sales person’s capabilities, values, and expressive behaviors match those of the customer (Cialdini 2001).

These details of positive similarity can include body language, mood, opinion, clothing style, voice tones, rate of speech, age, religion, politics, cigarette-smoking habits, similar names, vocabulary usage, backgrounds, or use of a mutually common stereotype (Buzzotta 1981) One study was completed in the 1970’s when most people dressed up in either a “hippie” or “straight” fashion. The researcher’s involved in this study went around a college campus dressed in both ways asking for a dime to make a phone call. The study revealed that when the students were dressed in the same way as the researcher the dime was given over 66% of the time while when they were dressed differently the dime was given away less than 50% of the time (Cialdini 2001). Another study on attire found that demonstrators were much more likely to sign a petition and sometimes do so without even reading it when the petitioner was dressed in similar clothes. (Suedfeld 1971). A study by Argyle in 1994 suggested that people like others that are similar to them in attitude, belief, values, backgrounds, jobs, leisurely interests, but not necessarily personalities. Argyle also said that his study shows that most people’s voices are more “leaky” than their faces as most people see themselves much more often than they hear themselves. Most of the time extroverts who speak quickly and loudly with an upward pitch contour is the most confident, likable, and persuasive (Argyle 1994). Most people have witnessed adaptation being used on them while buying a car. Many car salesmen are trained to find something in common with their interests or background with the prospect. They will pick up on small cues and then purposely express their own interest in a few areas that they believe you might also be interested in. Even the smallest seemingly meaningless similarities seem to work in development a sense of liking, influence, and rapport (Cialdini 2001).

- Richard

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