Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Selling Nuts to Squirrels

Seth Grodin, a popular leadership guru, says it best: if you want to be influential it's easier to sell nuts to squirrels than convince dolphins that nuts are delicious.

Grodin has a solid grasp of social psychology. If you want to be influential and change someone's behavior, you have to pay attention to three things in their mind:

"Attention, bias and vernacular. Attention, because we choose to pay attention to those things that we've decided matter. Bias, because our worldview alters the way we filter and interpret what we hear. And vernacular, because words and images resonate with people differently based on their worldview."

Attention and bias can be difficult to alter. People come to a situation with predetermined ideas about what's important and how they interpret new information. However, vernacular is another way of describing how things are communicated. The words, language and framing of a message are vital in determining its acceptance.

It's vital to begin where your audience or clients are and help them reframe the situation in spite of their attention and bias.

Sometimes you start with a nut and you end up selling a tree.

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