Have you ever walked into a grocery store with 5 items on your list, only to walk out with 15 in your basket? It happens to the best of us, whether driving out of a car yard with a new vehicle and wondering ‘how did that happen’, or walking away from a negotiation with the opposite outcome to your planned intent. We might blame the cunning of a talented sales person, but we are much better off studying them to understand the science of persuasion.
In the west, we have become very good at above the line, rational communication; ‘smoking is bad for your health’, ‘save money for your future’, ‘eat less fatty food’ and the list goes on. We typically stick to communicating knowledge and skills, which are undeniably important but not enough to motivate to action. After all, smokers still smoke, most fail to save and many continue to eat unhealthy food.
Over the last 20 years we have become better at below the line communication and speaking to peoples values, beliefs and identity. Again however, speaking only below the line is not enough to motivate people to action. It is the reason that millions make emotional decisions to change on new years day, only to forget them the following morning.
Effective communicators will speak to both head and heart, to our emotional and rational selves, marketing executives have learned to do this with great finesse. Consider a potential TV ad that reads, ‘Volvo, the only 4WD with a reversing camera and 5-star NCAP safety rating, for drivers who value their children’s safety.’ This message works because it speaks to both above the line ‘knowledge’ and below the line ‘values’. In the same way, a clothing label might say, ‘Armani, for the strategic business man’, speaks to below the line ‘identity’ along with the above the line ‘skill’. Religion has been and will remain powerful because it influences ‘beliefs’ below the line, as it does ‘behaviour’ above the line.
So with this in mind, the next time you feel motivated to do something, consider how you may have been influenced by someone cleverly communicating to both your heart and mind. More importantly, employ this strategy and you too can illicit that ‘gut response’ of ‘it feels right’ each and every time you communicate with somebody. This will not only make you a better communicator, but your business more profitable and you a charismatic leader.