Saturday, January 5, 2013

Manipulation techniques during negotiation

Nowadays, copying a product takes only a week (of course this time span depends on the type of product). Product life cycles are getting shorter and USP's may lose their value as technology develops. Therefore it becomes more and more important to build relationships with customers that are based on trust because they can not be copied by competitors. This modern approach to marketing is called relationship marketing. Sellers are encouraged to build longterm relationships with their customers to ensure customer loyalty. It takes years of hard work and mutual business to build a strong connection, but it provides a huge competitive advantage.

Mutual trust is a key factor in any relationship. It gets lost if people feel manipulated. As a result, communication breaks down, because the information one receives, can not be relied upon. The connection gets lost and with it the client.

Nevertheless some sellers seem to be trapped in the marketing mentality of the 90's. They use suggestion techniques, that are easy to spot for everybody with a basic knowledge of psychology.
Just one example: The anchoring effect. A price that is set at the beginning of the negotiation, influences the deal significantly. In the past, those who knew this bias, could use it to their advantage. But nowadays many people have heard of it and will recognize it as soon as somebody uses it.
The same goes for NLP-techniques that are used to build rapport by simulating similarity or for suggestions, priming and intuitive nonverbal communication, to name but a few. They may help to close the deal once, but in the long run they destroy the relationship sellers need to build with their customers.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why it is so difficult to change our behaviour

There is a reason for or everything we do - may it be a rational or an irrational one. It does not even matter if this is true - what matters is, what we believe. Without this reason we would not be able to control our lives. Thus we love causality because it provides a certain security. And thus we love the idea of being able to control our own behaviour and the behaviour of those who surround us.

But is it really as easy as it seems?

Just like a treatment of the symptoms does not cure the disease, behaviour can only be changed by a change on a higher level. Looking at Robert Dilts model of neurological levels these higher levels are beliefs, values, identity or spirituality.

There exists a simple explanation for it: Nobody wants to ...
  • ... do something he does not believe in
  • ... fight for values he does not identify with
  • ... sacrifice himself for a spirituality he does not feel connected to
It may sound harsh but in the end we all have to follow the rules of evolution. We can't afford to waste our energies on something that is not worth it. We all have to balance costs and earnings. We intensify behaviour that yields a profit. And what we call a profit depends on our values, our identity and our spirituality. This is the reason why you can't force anybody to change their behaviour - instead you have to convince them by winning their hearts.

Stages of behavioural change according to Lewin's Change Theory:
1. Shock,  2. Denial,  3. Rational Insight,  4. Emotional Acceptance,  5. Learning,  6. Cognition,  7. Integration
Source: Quest Consulting

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to ruin your employees' motivation

Some might consider this to be the optimum situation:  employees enjoying their job and working as a team. There are at least 4 different types of team workers each playing a different role:
(I am referring to the colors used originally by the Insights MDI model)
  • the Red one: provides guidance and structure
  • the Yellow one: keeps the team entertained
  • the Green one: supports other team members
  • the Blue one: develops strategies and plans to reach to goals
However, you might be tired of employees that are keen on learning because they ask too many questions.
In fact: those who seem to have better ideas than you question your role as a leader! To be honest: this is your company and you really don't care if your employees fancy your old school autocratic leadership - you hired them to work for you - not to dream of self-realization!

So how can you get rid of your employees' nasty sparks of enthusiasm?
  • the Red one: make sure to regulate everything, control every single activity, don't let him decide, tell him right from the start that he has got no chance to climb the social ladder
  • the Blue one: make him do only stupid routine jobs so that he does not even dare to dream about thinking out of the box; trivialize his suggestions
  • the Yellow one: never praise him, give him the job with the lowest status and with no prestige: make sure he does not earn too much and follows the company's dress code  
  • the Green one: don't offer support, don't allow chats and personal relationships at work, react cold and unresponsive
Demoralized employees won't :
  • come up with any new ideas
  • be interested in the company's future thus they don't ask questions 
  • be keen on nurturing close relationships with their colleagues/superiors
  • identify with their company's goals
  • recommend the company's products or services
  • work hard to make the company succeed 
  • do their best to satisfy customers
  • try to have fun at the workplace
If we look at Robert Dilts Neurological Levels, we can see that behaviour is organized by beliefs. Once the employees have lost their conviction that this workplace is worth fighting for, they will withdraw their commitment in order to save energy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The key to successful communication #3

In "The key to successful communication #2" I mentioned Albert Mehrabians 55-38-7 rule.  This rule is of a great help when thinking about the importance of nonverbal clues. Nevertheless I'm sure he knew that the numbers he suggested represent only approximate means.

There are at least two reasons why the figures presented in the 55-38-7 rule don't apply to everbody's communication:

They depend on the communication channel people prefer to use: the visual, the auditive or the kinesthetic one.
  • People, who prefer to take in information visually, will focus more on visual clues such as eye contact and facial expression.
  • Those who prefer to process auditive information, concentrate more on the rhythm of speech and the tone of voice. 
  • And those who are more sensitive to kinesthetic clues, will especially notice congruency, tensions and directions of movement.
Our communication is a mirror of our values. The Insights MDI ® describes four different types of people (combinations between the types are possible, extending the number of personality types to 8). The basic types are the Red, the Green, the Blue and the Yellow one. Frank M. Scheelen describes these types in his book "Menschenkenntnis auf einen Blick". Each of these types emphasizes a different theme in his communication:
  • The Red one focusses on efficiency and on results. He likes to get straight down to business and sees small talk as a waste of time.
  • The Blue one is more interested in dry facts. He's keen on studying and planning strategies. He judges any kind of entertainment as superficial.
  • The Yellow one likes to put up a great show. To him, the package is more important than the  content. He will be disappointed if you don't entertain him.
  • The Green one tries to establish harmonious relationships. He is more interested in personal information and values a soft and friendly approach.
Looking at the different types it becomes clear, that the Red and the Blue ones will concentrate more on what is said (verbal content) meanwhile the Yellow and Green ones concentrate more on how it is said (nonverbal content).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Insight into our decision making process

After filling out the form below you will be able to see how other people answered the questions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The key to successful communication 2

To communicate successful means to deliver the right message. This is not as easy at it sounds. Since verbal content accounts only for 7% of the message,  there is more to successful communication than just picking the right words.
Social norms define the story that can be told. It is alright to talk in public about nuclear disasters but not about our experience with sex techniques. We delight our client if we tell him that we are happy to see him, but it would be unwise to admit that we are in a hurry and have to move on to the next order.

Meanwhile it is quite easy to control our verbal output, our voice and our facial expression are difficult to restrain. Models such as the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) analyze facial expression by splitting it into action units related to facial muscles. This allows to identify emotions even though the speaker tries to hide them. Authentic facial expressions follow the rhythm of speech. They occur during or even before the speaker talks about his/her feelings. Fake expressions appear after speaking, they last longer and often end abruptly. (David J. Lieberman, Never Be Lied to Again)

Dan Hill describes in his book "Emotionomics" various examples of companies testing new products and advertising campaigns using facial coding. Dr. Paul Ekman, developer of FACS, offers on his website interactive training to improve the reading of micro-expressions. These facial expressions often occur, when people deliberately try to conceal their emotions (or unconsciously repress their emotions).

(The 55-38-7 rule [55% body language; voice 38%; 7% words] was discovered by Albert Mehrabian.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The RIM or why we are better off thinking about yellow checked elephants

The Reflective Impulsive Model divides our decision making process into two systems: the impulsive and the reflective system:

The impulsive system requires less cognitive capacities, the processes remain unreflected and therefore subconscious and can be processed simultaneously. We often activate it when we are in a hurry or not willing to see things through. In this case, connecting existing informations with new ones is the easiest way of making quick decisions based on feeling and intuition.

The reflective part controls and judges using logical thinking. It needs much longer to come to a conclusion, because it can only process one information at a time. Meanwhile the impulsive system seeks immediate rewards, the reflective system looks for sustainable success.

The RIM also delivers an answer to the question why we are unable to forget the pink elephant when we are told NOT to think of it: NOT means to negate. Negation has got something to do with logical thinking and logical thinking (the slow reflective part ...) makes things even more complicate as they are already ...

Quality instead of quantity

I am aware that this is a typical introvert statement. Extraverts would have said it the other way 'round. In search of new experiences, introverts tend to stay with what they've got meanwhile extraverts go on the hunt for a new object.

For introverts it is depth, that counts. If you really want to enjoy, you have to stay for a while and get to understand things on a deeper level. The more involved you get, the more interesting they become.

For marketing, this would imply, that it is more difficult to convince introvert customers, but easier to keep them once they are convinced. Extraverts might be easier to convince (= less initial input), but require more external input to stay loyal to the brand.

If you like this post, you might also be interested in reading this one:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How your ego stops you from being the best

If you surround yourself with people who agree upon every word you say this might give you a boost. You may even experience this warm, fuzzy feeling of coming home. We all need this kind of acceptance and harmony. Our egos love it. Doesn't it prove that we are the best?
To be the best is very important, especially for those who are in charge of other people. The impact of a leader's action is multiplied by the degree of power that stands behind it. Being the best justifies a  leading position, it justifies the risks that come along with making decisions that will affect others.

Those who question this justification, will challenge the boss personally. But if his ego feels threatened, he can still react with an authoritarian leadership style. Crushing inconvenient ideas will help at least temporarily.
The problem is that this world doesn't stand still. What is an achievement today will have lost its value tomorrow. If we don't set our benchmarks higher, then our competitors will. This endangers the survival of any company.

We need to get out of our comfort zone to be able to grow. We need to accept other people's ideas. The most challenging ideas seem to be totally unacceptable from our current point of view but at the same time this means that they bear the highest potential for us to grow.

Tolerance is the first step to recognize these opportunities. Tolerance is a sign of strength. Natural leaders are born with it, but natural leaders are rare. We must not wait for these leaders to come and knock on our doors but take responsibility for our actions by ourselves. We have to learn not to be afraid to challenge our beliefs and to gain independence from our egos if we want to become the best we can be.

* * *

This was just the theoretical part. Or, as Kurt Tucholsky put it:
"Life is not like this, it's completely different."