Think of a situation where you need to persuade another party to take action but have no way of enforcing your view, like the press up challenge going around Facebook. Many of you will have been asked to do the 22 in 22 challenge to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Brian was doing his 22 press ups over 22 days for PTSD (taking an item of clothing off every day was his thing, have a look. Fortunately, on day one he was well wrapped up) and eventually I was chosen. He asked me to do the exercise, but appealed to my self-interest by saying I should put up a recipe every day. That’s what hit the spot: a chance to share pictures of food. If I’m honest it was the recipe challenge more than the press ups that fired me up.
In appealing to my self-interest Brian got me started on 22 days of exercise. But there’s more, as I had been looking to restart my “20 minutes early in the morning” exercise routine, a habit I had slipped out of. So, rather than just the 22 press ups, I decided on adding a minute every day until I got to 22 minutes, 22 press ups always included.
Every day for 22 days another food pic went up and a minute was added to my exercise routine. The challenge also asks you to nominate someone every day to do the 22 in 22. It’s a big ask so I listed and tagged 27 people on day one, asking them all to join me.
The response, predictably, was underwhelming. And I know why: it was impersonal, too easily ignored and never had much appeal to the multitudes asked.
The PTSD initiative says to have fun, so I changed tac.
Every day I chose small groups of Facebook friends (musicians, London dwellers, entrepreneurs, school friends, cat lovers, cyclists) and asked them for a quote relating to their personal passions that would help me through the next day’s early morning slog. Asking for motivational quotes (or cat pictures) appealed to the givers’ self-interest and is a perfect illustration of how important it is to think what would work for others when trying to influence.
I am sure that had Brian simply asked me to do the press ups I would have found a way to pass, as a busy middle aged man.
Appealing to the self-interest of the other party is a neat thing to do. If you were talking to me today I might say my interests were London, pastrami and hatchbacks because I am in the Big Smoke, have just eaten spiced salt beef and am looking at small, beautiful cars. My bigger picture subjects would be cooking while watching sport, political oratory and urban architecture.
Why those? Because they interest me, illustrate who I am and let me show off a bit.
What are your personal passions? If I found them out I would love to chat about them. I would be curious enough to ask terrific questions while adding a few nuggets of my own where possible.
Even if it was Formula One: There’s a race in Barcelona yes? Have you been? How are the rule changes working? Is it competitive these days? I see Damon Hill has a book out, have you read it? I heard recently that Schumacher is making progress after his skiing accident… Barcelona is one of my favourite cities (see what I did there?).
There is nothing we like better than a good chat about something that interests us. Sharing can make our day, especially if we feel our opinion is valued and our topics interesting. Stoking a bit of self-interest to get others to take action is more effective than telling people what’s good for them: Tapping into their personal zeitgeist can be a good way to establish rapport and enthuse others to take action.
And I have data to prove all of this works.
From less than ten per cent response to my initial email, my hit rate went to over 70%. Highlights were some terrific quotations, tracks of music, hooking up with old friends and lovely school stories I had long forgotten.
Not to mention raised awareness for PTSD, enhanced personal fitness, two pounds lost weight… and a few Facebook friends actually doing the press ups!
Did anyone say win win?
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about the author
Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.