Have you been approached in the street by a researcher?

Normally only 29% people agree to answer questions.

Why did one question increase that to 77?

Here, red10 ‘s Gavin Simpson talks about one aspect of pre-suasion that Professor Cialdini – the guru of influencing – calls Priming.

Drawing our attention

Not many people stopped for the market researcher.

You can imagine the busy city street at lunchtime, when people were eager to get to the deli and back to the office – the success rate was very low, 29%.

However, when people were asked if they considered themselves helpful people first, then the level of success went up significantly to 77%.

What was going on here?

It drew people’s attention to the idea that, “yes they were helpful people” and then consistent with this, they would engage in the research.

They had been primed. Their attention had been drawn towards the outcome i.e. people being more receptive to engaging in the research.

Choose your words?

Priming is very helpful. Words are powerful.

Consider these two ways of giving feedback, based on your outcome that you would like someone to be receptive to your feedback.

You could say:

Politely in a calm way “would it be ok to give you some feedback on our meetings?” As nicely as this is done you are likely to be already thinking “oh my goodness what’s coming”. The word “feedback” is loaded.

Or you could say in a matter-of-fact way “can I make a request about our meetings?” This is likely to be received as a reasonable and collaborative thing to accept. It’s a frame that draws your attention in a different way.

  • What state of mind would be helpful for your conversation?
  • What words and “frames” will help with this?
  • What questions could you use to help create a receptive state of mind?

Film directors essentially use the same approach to manage our attention. They use cuts from one scene to another to attract our attention to the important messages in the story.

When to prime?

Priming can be used ahead of when you actually meet the person or group of people you would like to influence. The question is how can you draw someone’s attention to what you want them to be considering?

Some very practical examples we have seen used effectively are:

Pre-reads – to draw people’s attention before a meeting to the salient issues to focus on in the meeting. Particularly useful in meetings that tend to be a little chaotic.

Desktop screen savers – to draw attention to increasing the speed of clinical trials and a forthcoming change programme.

You can be as creative as you like here, and we recommend you brainstorm this with your team. It could be sending someone an article to read ahead of your meeting, a quote, a story, a metaphor, a postcard of a picture that has an association saying we are looking forward to meeting

For example; in red10 we use connection circles at the start of our masterclasses. In these everyone get’s their own turn to speak when they are ready to talking to a set of questions. It helps people to be in a state of mind that its ok to talk up in this meeting, everyone will get space to be heard, we value each contribution and it creates connection to each other and ease for the meeting ahead.

How can you start to use priming?