Friday, March 19, 2010

The Effects of Emotional State on Influence Success

Research studies have shown a clear connection between the emotional state of the individual and the success of an influence strategy.  In these studies, people were either exposed to messages that were designed to induce fear-based emotions or romantic-based emotions.  These emotions were created through short stories and film clips.

Each group was then exposed to advertisements using either social-proof* or scarcity** type messages as their influence strategies.  The results?  Those people exposed previously to fear-based emotions were more persuaded by the social proof appeals, while those people exposed to romantic-based emotions were more persuaded by influence messages utilizing scarcity and uniqueness.

Interestingly, studies have also shown that not only our buying behaviour, but our selling behaviour can be affected by our emotional state.  Jennifer Lerner and her associates set out to determine just this.  What they did find was that those individuals in which they induced a feeling of sadness (again, through film clips and essays) were likely to pay more for an item if buying, or to sell it for less.  In fact, compared to the emotionally neutral buyers, sad buyers were willing to pay as much as 30% more for an item, while sad sellers were willing to price items at up to 33% less than emotionally neutral sellers. 

Other studies have been conducted that demonstrate that ANY emotionally charged issue or situation, regardless of whether it is positively or negatively charged, will have a direct impact and influence on the type and quality of decisions made. 

The implications?
  • consider carefully the placement of advertisements, within magazines etc.  The effectiveness of your ad will be heavily influenced by the article(s) preceding it.  The content of your advertisement would need to shift depending upon whether the articles precding it were happy or sad, positive or negative in nature.  The emotions that those articles evoke in your audience will have a significant impact on the way in which your advertisement is viewed and, ultimately, how much of your product gets sold.
  • this same consideration should be given to the likely emotional state of your audience, before crafting and framing your communications or requests.  If employees are fearful of the economic situation and stability of the marketplace, then they are more likely to be influenced by messages utilizing the social proof heuristic and will be less responsive to messages that utilize other influence attempts. 
  • you should also give some consideration to how you are feeling - emotionally - before entering into any negotiation process or buying situation.  You are most likely to make the best buying decisions when in a fairly emotionally neutral state.  
If you have ever found yourself buying something that you didn't want or need, or paying a much higher price for something than you should have - you know you have been influenced through an emotional state.  Just as we have been told repeatedly not to go grocery shopping when hungry, so too must we now consider not going shopping when we're too emotionally charged.  Unless, of course, we won't mind the impact on our pocket-book!!

*social proof - evidence that others are 'doing' it, celebrity endorsements fall into this category.  In general, we look to others behaviour to guide our own.

**Scarcity - the 'only 50 left' strategy.  If something is in limited supply or going quickly we may be more inclined to purchase it for ourselves.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turning Energy Into Time

If you are anything like me, then you likely find yourself overloaded with more things to do in a day than can possibly be accomplished.  We use technology more to stay on top of things, and to keep in touch with everyone, than to free up our time.  We try to cram as much as possible into our workday, to be as productive as possible, in the vain hope that perhaps we won't have to work late or take work home to catch up.

Is it little wonder then that we are always on the search for the latest tool or tip that helps us manage our time more efficiently?  After all, that's the real issue, isn't it?  Not having enough of that precious commodity - time.  Or... is it?

Maybe, instead of continuing to work at managing our time and tasks more effectively, we need to reframe our thinking.  The issue with time is that it's finite.  No matter how you do the math, there are only 24 hours in a day.  Instead of learning to manage your time more efficiently you have to learn manage the Energy you bring to your tasks.

Much of the early research on energy management comes to us from the world of sports, but it is just as applicable to our day-to-day work lives.  Heck... to our lives in general!

As a professional athlete, it is essential to understand exactly what it takes to achieve consistent, peak performance.  Research has shown that though it is important to hone the technical skills each athlete brings to their respective sport, it is essential that they maximize the Energy output in order to increase performance.

We may not be operating our daily lives at the same physical level as professional athletes, but the machines we're using to accomplish our work (our bodies) are the same.  The challenge for us though, is that we are typically asked to 'perform' for 8 hours a day, a minimum of 5 days a week, without the benefit of the knowledge or training that athletes receive.

A key training method of elite athletes is known as Periodization, first introduced by the early Greeks.  Periodization is the concept of improving performance through balancing periods of activity with periods of rest.  Consider your typical work day though.  You likely...

  • Wake up to an alarm clock blaring at you
  • Race through your morning routine to get out the door as quickly as possible to beat the traffic
  • Move from one task to another, one meeting to another, with no pause
  • Take lunch at your desk so you can continue to work... you wouldn't want to 'waste' time!
  • Race home, work tucked under your arm
  • Fix dinner
  • Spend time with the kids (that all-important 'quality' time!)
  • Squeeze in a little more work
  • Collapse in front of the television to 'vegetate'
  • Drag yourself to bed so you can get up tomorrow to do it all again!
Where was the rest, the renewal, in your day?  Oh... right... it's called vacation and it doesn't come daily, it comes annually!  We live in a world where 'busyness' is worn like a badge of honour and where renewal and recovery get ignored.  However, our ability to be fully engaged at work, to be optimally productive, depends upon our ability to periodically 'disengage' successfully.

Building moments of recovery into your work day will enable you to engage in your tasks more fully and passionately.  Research has clearly shown that productivity increases when people build in periods of renewal into their work day.  Even though they are 'breaking' more, they get more done than those choosing to work 'flat out'.  Some of the most creative thinkers (such as daVinci and Einstein) were strong advocates of breaks, to allow their subconscious minds to work out the problem at hand.

I have clients that will not schedule any meeting exceeding 90 minutes in length, without scheduling a break, recognizing the link of our energy levels to our body's natural Ultradian Rhythms.  And... really... most meetings run needlessly long anyway!

Consider breaking your day into 90-120 minute blocks of time.  Rather than fighting these natural body rhythms, defer to them instead.  A break needn't be long in duration for it to provide you with enough of a rest for your energy and focus to improve.  Potential ideas for workday renewal breaks?
  • take a walk
  • read a chapter of a book, or listen to one
  • listen to music
  • do some light stretches
  • prepare and eat a light, healthy snack
  • work on a puzzle, crossword, sudoku
You get the idea!  Whatever activity would work best for you and relieve you of some of the physical and mental stress you've experienced so far.  Allow your mind to switch gears, take a break from the task at hand, so that it can be more focused when you return.  Odds are that the solution to the problem you were stuck on before the break, is waiting for you upon your return!

(if you are interested in learning more about the idea of Managing your Energy to increase your time effectiveness, send us a blank email with Energy Ebook in the subject line.  We'd be more than happy to forward you a pdf of our ebook... enjoy!)

Monday, March 8, 2010


I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to have this blog up and running!  For those of you that know me, you already know how much ongoing reading and research I am involved in, at any given time.  Whether due to a new training program under development, a new article I'm working on, or sheer curiosity, I am always into something!  I will say that it's often a coaching client's question that gets me going on a new tangent. This blog gives me the opportunity to get some of those thoughts out there, to hear what you have to say but, in short, to share some of my thinking outside of just coaching sessions or training programs. 

Of course, this is all my way of saying that I'm not sure just what you'll get in this blog. Maybe an article-type discussion, maybe a follow-up commentary to key questions I've been receiving through email or coaching sessions, maybe just some discussion points or information I've come across that I've found fascinating and think you might be interested in hearing about.

Regardless, I hope you find something of value as you join me on this journey.  I invite you to repond to anything I share, whether you agree, disagree or simply want to share your thoughts and experiences.  Let's get some dialogue going!!!