Using Priming & Timing to Persuade

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One early morning, I watched local fishermen tending their nets as the tide slowly retreated, following the setting moon. Fishermen understand the importance of timing. They take in many factors of nature to decide when to cast their nets. 

In persuading & influencing, we benefit from learning the right timing too. In Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, psychologist Robert Cialdini shows “…to get desired action it’s not necessary to alter a person’s beliefs or attitudes or experience. It’s not necessary to alter anything at all except what’s prominent in that person’s mind at the moment of decision…whowe are with respect to any choice is wherewe are, attentionally, in the moment before the choice.”

Cialdini provides intriguing examples of priming & timing choices to get a successful outcome. For example, asking people “Do you regard yourself as a helpful person?” before asking them to take part in a survey increased participation rates from 29 to 77%. 

The most valuable commodity in the digital marketplace is attention, & Cialdini’s work gives many helpful tips on front-loading people’s attention & priming for positive outcomes.

Listen to Professor Cialdini explain concepts of pre-suasion in this US Public Broadcasting Feature.

For a quick overview of Cialdini’s classic work that preceded persuasion, Influence, watch this animated clip about his 6 principles.

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