EngagementEmployee EngagementHow can HR professionals become more convincing?

How can HR professionals become more convincing?

Dr. Christoph Morin talked to us about the power of persuasion in the workplace, and how this can be useful for HR leaders.

Every single day, you communicate to dozens of colleagues, peers, friends, family members with the intent to be heard, to be understood, if not with the explicit desire to convince. Persuasion is all around us. The persistence at which over 20,000 ads are trying to grab our attention is an incessant reminder of the critical role persuasion has played among humans for thousands of years.

In fact, the subject of persuasion has been studied for millennials. However, perusing through over 480,000 research papers and more than 70,000 books is no simple task. Fortunately, the subject has garnered more attention from unusual experts in the last two decades yielding radical, if not controversial, ideas: brain scientists. I am one of them. I have researched the effectiveness of persuasive messages on the brain for nearly two decades.

The field of persuasion research has been revolutionised by neuroscience

Shockingly, the bulk of traditional research papers on the subject of persuasion has largely ignored that humans are not entirely conscious of the numerous mechanisms that can explain and predict our decisions. Let’s face it: the brain is a complex organ we are just beginning to understand. But in my new book: The Persuasion Code, my co-author Patrick Renvoise and I reveal how persuasive messages impact distinct neurological processes in the brain. When we published our first book to introduce the idea of a brain-based theory of persuasion nearly 20 years ago, many scholars and academics were skeptical, if not opposed to the idea that our decisions are not ruled by consciousness alone. But in the footsteps of the works of Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler (both recipients of Nobel prizes in Economics), we have now unveiled a theory of persuasion based on subconscious measures of emotional and cognitive responses to advertising and public service announcements. More importantly, our model (NeuroMap™) takes into account the effect of cognitive biases (see 188 cognitive biases at this link) which are known to distort our thinking from pure logic, and are often seen as the product of conscious and rational thinking.

As an HR leader, this persuasion model can help you sharpen your ability to move a candidate to join your company, influence your boss to give you more budget, or even help you convince a family member to end an argument!

What you need to know about the ‘Persuasion Code’ to sharpen the persuasive effect of your messages.

There is a dominant system in the brain that controls the persuasive process: The Primal Brain. The nervous system has two major systems, but one, the Primal brain dominates the processing of how messages affect us.

  • The Primal Brain: The oldest system composed of a multitude of brain structures that make you safe. The Primal brain manages critical internal states that control attention and emotional resources to address survival-related priorities below our level of consciousness.
  • The Rational Brain: The most recent, more evolved part of the brain. The Rational brain is like a suite of enhanced applications you can learn, change or upgrade during your lifetime. This brain uses higher cognitive resources that help us mediate some of the responses of the Primal brain.

Being more persuasive

Because of the dominance of the Primal brain, persuasion is a bottom-up effect. So to optimize your chances of getting results from your persuasive messages, you need to take into account 6 persuasion biases that trigger instant Primal brain responses.

Make your message more PERSONAL: Think of the Primal brain as the centre of ME. It has no patience or empathy for anything that does not immediately concern its well-being. It scans for threats before it attends to pleasure. Vigilance drives the speed and nature of its response.

Make your arguments more CONTRASTABLE: The Primal brain is sensitive to solid contrast such as before/after, risky/safe, with/without, and slow/fast. Contrast allows quick, risk-free decisions. Without contrast, the brain enters a state of confusion, which delays a decision, or worse, stalls a decision altogether.

Make your proofs more TANGIBLE: The Primal brain needs tangible input. It is constantly looking for what is familiar and friendly; what can be recognized quickly, what is concrete and immutable. The Primal brain cannot process complexity without a lot of effort and skepticism. It appreciates simple, easy-to-grasp, concrete ideas.

Make your story more MEMORABLE: The Primal brain remembers little. Placing the most important content at the beginning is a must and repeating it at the end is imperative. Keep in mind that what you say in the middle of your delivery should be brief and convincing. Don’t go over 3 convincing arguments: your CLAIMS. The Primal brain loves stories because a good narrative construction is easy to remember.

Make your points more VISUAL: The Primal brain’s default sensory channel is visual. The optical nerve is physically connected to the Primal brain and at least 25 times faster than the auditory nerve. Therefore, the visual channel provides a fast and effective connection to accelerate decisions. No other sense is more dominant than the visual sense. It is the superhighway of your messages.

Make your impact more EMOTIONAL: The Primal brain is strongly triggered by emotions. Emotions create chemical events in your brain that directly impact the way you process and memorize information. In fact, you simply can’t remember events unless you strong “emotional cocktail.” No emotion, no decisions!

So next time you craft that critical email, you have a simple choice. You can trust your guts, continue to assume that people are making rational decisions. Or you can apply science, and learn to save time, money and lots of frustration from making messages that will splash off people’s brains.

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