Being able to persuade people of your point of view and communicate in a way that is compelling enough to change opinions is an incredibly powerful skill and one of the most useful abilities you can possess. However, even the best speaker in the world and even the most persuasive argument will not always be successful. The reason for this is that persuasion takes two. On the one hand, it’s important that you deliver a great persuasive speech and make lots of good points to convince people that you’re right and make them as passionate as you are about it, but at the same time the person you’re speaking to needs to be open to that change and they need to be receptive.
To a degree this will be luck of the draw. If you try and convince a large crowd then some of the people listening will buy into what you’re saying and some won’t. You can increase that percentage in your favour by crafting your argument well, but ultimately if the people you speak to don’t want to listen then you won’t have any luck changing their minds. For their part, they have to hear what you’re saying, think about it and be open to the possibility of new ideas.
This is what is known in marketing as ‘receptivity’, and it’s crucial that you understand this idea if you want to be successful in debates and arguments, or just bring more people round to your point of view. Read more to learn what receptivity is and how to use it.
What Is Receptivity?
How receptive your audience is, is partly going to depend on their demographic and how opposed to your idea they are initially. If you wanted to get people to buy your wedding magazine then, you would try and advertise that magazine in places where you would be likely to find newly engaged couples: at bridal shops for instance and fairs, or just in areas with lots of 25-35 year olds.
That’s not really what receptivity is about though. What the term really refers to instead, is how open those people are to your message at the time. You might find someone then who is currently planning a wedding and who would be very eager to get helpful information and articles on the matter; but you still need to approach them at the right time. Come at them with your leaflet jut as they’re on the way to work and they’ll probably just brush you away. You’re getting in their way, you’re invading their space and they’re too busy to think about your message.
This is part of the reason that spam mail is generally so unsuccessful. Those messages are things we never asked to receive and thus we view them as affronts to our right to be let alone. Even if the spam contains great deals, we’ll probably just delete it/throw it out before we find out.
No matter how good your message is then, you need to first make someone receptive to it if you hope to have a lasting impact and change their mind. Read on to find out how you can do this…
How to Make People More Receptive
If you can make people more receptive to your ideas and messages at will, then you will find that you greatly improve your hit rate when it comes to sales, getting girls’/boys’ numbers and winning debates. This is something that hypnotists can do fantastically well, as really all hypnotism is, is the process of putting someone in a state where they are receptive and subordinate to the hypnotist.
Some of the strategies that hypnotists use are also things that we can employ ourselves if we want to try and make someone more receptive to our ideas. For instance, most hypnotist will begin by making the person as relaxed and as calm as possible. This is something you can achieve by putting one hand on the other person’s shoulder, by talking to them in a calm voice and by making them feel safe first.
Similarly, it also helps to make the other person like you and to feel that you are both similar. Try to subtly mirror their mannerisms and be as agreeable as possible and you will find they drop their guard to a degree.
Now, if possible, try to get the person’s permission to try and persuade them. This is very important as it will make them relax and mean that they stop trying to ‘resist’ what you’re saying. For example, you could say ‘is it okay with you if I explain the benefits of our new product?’ if you’re selling something, or ‘I need to speak with you about something important if you have a moment to listen’ if it’s personal. When marketing online the equivalent is the checkbox that you tick to say that you’re happy to receive mail. This is there for legal purposes, but also because marketers know you’ll be more likely to read their e-mails if you have given them permission to send them first.
Now on to ‘priming’. This is a process that can occur before or after you have opened the other person/the audience/your customers up but which is very powerful when used correctly. Priming is a psychological term that describes the process of putting someone in a particular mood or frame of mind that is conducive to you.
For instance then, if you wanted to tell your partner that you can’t make it to their Mum’s birthday party because you have a night out planned, then you wouldn’t want to do it as soon as they got in from work. Instead you would wait for your moment, but also try to help them along. Put on a romantic comedy for instance and then tell them, and you might find that they are far more forgiving than they otherwise would have been. That’s priming.
From a marketing perspective there are any numbers of ways you can prime your audience to make them more receptive. For instance, if you were promoting an action movie, you might hang a poster up at the gym. This way, people would see it as they came out after their workout and they were in an action packed and testosterone fuelled mood. Being in the gym would prime them for your message so that when they saw it the quotes from reviews and pictures of explosions would go down much better.
Priming can work in other more subtle ways too. In a conversation for instance you can lead the other participant where you want them to be emotionally before dealing them the crux of your request/idea. For example, if you wanted to ask someone for their help, you could start off by talking about problems that your mutual friends have and other sensitive issues. By putting them in a state of mind where they’ll be feeling emotive and sympathetic, you will then be much more likely to get the answer you want when you ask them for something. They can’t help those friends, but they can help you, right?
Experiment with different types of priming and time your requests and rants more carefully. You may notice that suddenly you start getting things your way a lot more often…