Yale marketing professor Zoe Chance shares her best influence techniques

Virgin Radio

1 Feb 2022, 12:55

Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Nudging, framing and the ‘magic question’ are all techniques Zoe uses to get what she wants ethically, without compromising who she is. The professor joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky this morning to tell us exactly how she does it.

Marketing Professor at Yale School of Management, Zoe Chance, teaches a number one course at the school called ‘Mastering Influence and Persuasion’. Her Ted Talk, ‘How to Make a Behaviour Addictive’ also has over 700,000 views on YouTube.

So, you could say she knows a thing or two about influence.

Speaking with Chris Evans this morning, she revealed some of the best influence techniques that we can all use to get what we want out of life.

The first is known as ‘framing’, which is based on a cognitive bias where people are given options with positive or negative connotations.

The idea is people are more likely to take a risk and go with something positive than with the negative.

Zoe gives the example of when Apple creator, Steve Jobs, encouraged the CEO of Pepsi, John Sculley, to move over to his company despite John consistently turning down the offer.

She explained: “He [Steve] asked John a couple of times. John keeps saying no, but one thing that's important here, and this is over multiple conversations, is that they become friends.

“First of all, Steve didn't give up, but he also didn't become annoying. And he ends up in their friendship, asking again, in a very charming way, this powerful frame.

“He says, ‘So would you like to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, John? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?’”            

 She added: “That frame of selling sugar water was so powerful, and sticky if you will because it's exactly what Sculley was doing. But he's only able to take it in because he was friends with Steve Jobs at this point.”

The second technique Zoe recommends using is called Nudging.

This involves a tiny intervention or change in environment that will lightly guide someone to go down a certain path or towards an outcome. It can also be used on your own mind, particularly if you’re trying to break habits.

Zoe explained: “So we’re talking about temptations, and a nudge that I did for myself in my house is put all our junk food we had in the cupboard into an opaque container because we were just all eating more junk food than we wanted.

“What ended up happening when we did this is we just didn’t notice the cookies when we would open the cupboard, and they ended up moulding.

“It can be very simple.”

Last but certainly not least is something called the ‘magic question’, which Zoe says is her favourite influence technique because it is so easy yet effective.

She says: “If you’re going to take one thing away from this, practice the magic question.”

The magic question is simply asking, ‘what would it take?’

Zoe explains it is so magical because it is a great substitute for criticism, and you can use it in pretty much any context.

She explains: “I had an employee who was showing up late consistently, and I was really pissed off. But instead of criticising him, I just asked him, ‘Hey, what would it take to show up on time every day?’, and he starts saying something about his alarm clocks and something about his bicycle. And then he's like, ‘Okay, got it. Is there anything you need for me? No? Consider it done.’

“And he shows up on time every day for the next few months that he's working for me. It's not like he's going to be magically on time for the rest of his life, but it allowed him to save face.”

Zoe’s book, ‘Influence Is Your Superpower: How To Get What You Want Without Compromising Who You Are’ is out today, and it has taken her five years to write- so you know it’s going to be packed full of invaluable advice and techniques.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.