Start with the mind – how does the mind come into play?
PS Bhangu, personal conversation, 2015
When my children were young and they wanted to do an activity or for me to buy them something special, I always told them to convince me why. Generally, it worked and I would acquiesce to their request. But one of my son’s was the most adept at persuasion, he could change my mind.
It was not really about giving them what they wanted. It was more about helping them to develop critical thinking and not just reacting to their thought of what they wanted based on an emotion like not having what some else had. It was about getting the boys to:
- Communication their desire clearly, not just ‘because I want it’;
- Be able to see beyond the emotion and see the legitimacy of the need (like “I want this game so I can play with my friends in the neighbourhood”);
- Through pointed questions about the desire, they could discover the ability to solve the ‘problem’ or look at the situation from another perspective, and
- Finally self-evaluate the need to fulfill that desire.
I suppose that social media is much like that, but with a greater audience (I only have 3 sons) and more ‘desires’ that are being created at the speed of light.
WHY DO YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND?
Having been, ‘hem’, back in mid-70’s, experiencing a bachelor’s degree in Social Communications, I recall a particular book called Hidden Persuaders (Vance Packard 1957) that I have searched for (oh sorry just a minute, there is one more easy place to look…ah no, later, it is probably with the Thayer. Never mind. I will probably find it on YouTube!) and Andy Warhol. Yes Andy Warhol…his view about art integrated the persuasion of selling that art.
In Packard’s time, persuasion, subliminal, hidden or overt, was a great worry and an exciting area for advertisers and businesses alike. It was consider brainwashing by advertisers with claims of subliminal advertising on television and in movie theatres. Check out this interesting YouTube video on “The Truth about Subliminal Messages” from SciShow Psych.
The objective mind works in different realms, its workings affect outcome of body thus impacts productivity, relationships adversely or positively. PS Bhangu, Personal conversation 2015
Generally changing our mind is part of the human condition and the use of our free will. We can change our mind on a person, for example. Until we stop seeing the negative and what we do not like about them and find out their real story, our belief is just a perception. A flexible, open person can look beyond that ‘half-informed’ perception and being to comprehend where the person is coming from. It does not mean that you agree with the person on a subject, but you can respect where they are.
So, you can say there is a context, a circumstance where persuasion contributes to changing your minds. It helps you to see the real in the seemingly skewed perspective.
CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR AND MOTIVATION
Acquiring useful information from a target, convincing peers to share information, and spurring actions that promote desirable outcomes all require the ability to influence others through persuasion. (Cialdini, 2018)
Persuasion can act on your desires, on your weaknesses, on the shadow aspects that you would not like to reveal, on your motivation and focused attention or inattention.
Grocery stores do it (persuade) by the way they display products in the shop. When you enter the store, you will be attracted to the colours of the fruits and vegetables and how everything is neatly displayed. You may decide at that time that you want to buy the fruits and vegetables. It may not be in your conscious intent to do so, but you do. Your response appears to be an automatic response without much thought. It is a temporary choice.
If you had the intention of buying fruits and vegetables before you entered the store, you may end up buying more (that is what the shops want!). The display in the store will connect with your intention. That is also persuasion.
Manufacturers also create a similar kind of persuasion by packaging or the ‘trend’ words which will track your attention subtly or not. ‘No trans fat’ was the in-vogue expression more than ten years ago and every manufacturer tagged maximized its use on packaging. Now we see more ‘gluten-free’, ‘free range’, ‘grass-fed’. The industry recognizes that people are more health conscious and want to make the right choices, so they ‘guide’ them along. And that is ‘convincing’ business, right?
MANIPULATION OR PERSUASION
Ours is the first age in which many thousands of the best-trained individual minds have made a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind. To get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is the object now. And to generate heat not light is the intention. (McLuhan 1967)
Large-scale efforts are being made, often with impressive success, to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing decisions, and our thought process by the use of insights gleaned from psychiatry and social sciences. Typically, these efforts take place beneath our level of awareness… (Packard  2007: 31)
These authors were very concerned about persuasion as manipulation. Their developing views spurred on many studies that took this ‘new science’ into many directions. These studies have deepened the understanding from both perspective of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ persuasion from social, psychological and marketing lens.
According to Hoffeld Group’s article The Difference Between Persuasion & Manipulation There are three ways to distinguish between manipulation and persuasion; here is a synopsis:
1. Intention: Is the idea, product, service in Your or the consumers best interest?
2. Withholding truth: As a consumer, is it difficult getting the full information about the person, the idea, the product or service? Do your ‘Spidey senses tingle’ because you feel that you are getting played?
3. Coercion: this is the “removal of free choice”. This is forced upon the consumer. It is the trap!
My opinion is that today, with the inundation of a thousand pieces (or more) of information revealed to us in a blink of an eye, some of us have become savvier at discerning when we are being manipulated. Does that mean we are suspicious in nature until proven otherwise?
PERSUASION WITH A POSITIVE SPIN
Persuasion does indeed involve moving people to a position they don’t currently hold, but not by begging or cajoling. Instead, it involves careful preparation, the proper framing of arguments, the presentation of vivid supporting evidence, and the effort to find the correct emotion match with your audience. Hoffeld Group
From his book 6 Principles of Persuasion cited by the Hoffeld Group, and Samuel Hum from Referral Candy nearly forty years ago, Robert Cialdini advances that there are 6 principles that are part of a persuasive strategy. They are the following along with some examples offered by Samuel Hum:
- Reciprocity: We are social beings with some kind of innate manner to respond in kind to others. When we receive a gift, a favour, or other benefit from someone, we want to do the same to that giver. Like a pay back or even a pay forward. *To promote your brand on social media, you could offer something first or something exclusive o personalize the offer.
- Commitment and consistency: Generally, when we adopt a brand, say like me and Burt’s Bees lip shimmer – I have been using it for years and there is one lip shimmer in every purse – and I will be ‘damned’ if I have to change brand (Lol). We stay with that brand. It works for use and keep it coming. We are creatures of habit. *Customers could be asked to engage in a first step toward your brand or make a public endorsement or reward the customer for providing such commitment to your brand.
- Social proof: People are more likely to purchase a brand because a friend they trust, or even a celebrity or expert in the field or peers.
- Likeness: This is about being personable, demonstrating interest in the customer, potential or not. If the consumers “like” the provider, they are more likely to buy the product or adhere to the service or brand offered by that nice person. It can also be a word-of-mouth endorsement or a blogger that you like. It is the human ‘touch’. *Factors that impact this ‘liking principle’ are:
- Appearance, like a user-friendly, well-designed website or blog,
- Having things in common with the person or brand
- Having a one-on-one conversation on social media with a customer
- Creating a cooperative spirit around the brand, and
- The brand associates values that are dear to the consumer.
- Authority: The brand provider is seen as an expert in the field of interest, so can be trusted about the truth expressed about the brand. Some factors that can give off this air of authority are clothes, titles, posture, projection.
- Scarcity: This by definition means shortage. During the pandemic, people were running to the store to by ‘industrial’ quantities of toilet paper. It is what creates an urgency in the mind of consumers to act quickly, like time-sensitive or number-limited offers.
We have learned that persuasion strategies happen in every aspect of our lives.
It can be positive:
- It connects to perception
- It creates trust through the feeling of being guided by an expert
- It creates commitment
- It creates compliancy to requests because of the ‘friendly’ manner and common values promoted
- It creates exchange or sharing as reciprocity – One good turn deserves another attitude.
- We feel heard.
- It uncovers our intended need. It taps into our free will.
Or it can be negative and called manipulation:
- It works with hidden truths to cajole the consumer into action
- The action taken is forced and without clear intention
- It can blindside you.
- It is not in the best interest of the consumer.
As multidimensional beings living in a multidimensional world and universe, we need more than our dualistic mind to experience and compute what is going on. We need our neutral mind, which has access to subtle information from our Soul and the Infinite. Guru Rattana Kaur October 14, 2015
CALL TO ACTION
How can you tell if you are being persuaded or manipulated? Please share your stories.
Did you catch some undercurrent message in this blog to guide you here?
Will you try this meditation to still the moving mind so you can find harmony within you and see through the machinations not only of others but of your mind?
Thanks for reading. Be well. Meherbani Kaur
FACEBOOK: Have your ever being curious about social media persuasion? Check out my blog on Convince Me! http://bitly.ws/fZMe
TWITTER: What is persuasion and manipulation? See my Blog Convince Me! http://bitly.ws/fZMe
Cialdini, Robert, Martin, S., August 2018, Power of Persuasion & Pre-suasion to Produce Change,
Rich media, The Science of Social Media – Persuasion Techniques, https://www.richmedia.com/richideas/articles/the-science-of-social-media-persuasion
Social Media Today, The Psychology of Online Persuasion, March 2015, https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/2015-03-16/psychology-online-persuasion
 Persuasion Blog, Artistic Persuasion, May 4, 2016, http://healthyinfluence.com/wordpress/2016/05/04/artistic-persuasion
 Soules, Marshall, Media, Persuasion and Propaganda, Edinburgh University Press, 2015, p.1, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1g09zzm
 Idem, p. 2
 Hoffeld Group, http://www.hoffeldgroup.com, The Difference Between Persuasion & Manipulation, https://www.hoffeldgroup.com/the-difference-between-persuasion-manipulation/
 Hoffeld Group, idem
 Referral Candy.com, Samual Hum, 6 Principles of Persuasion to Convince Anyone to Do Anything, https://www.referralcandy.com/blog/persuasion-marketing-examples/
 Guru Rattana, The Power of Neutral: Soul Alchemy in Meditation, 2013, Yoga Technology LLC, 279 pages