In this week’s episode of Brain Games, Jason Silva explores the fascinating science of persuasion. Marketers, salesmen and con men know that if you want someone to say “yes” that you’ll have a better chance if you use persuasion techniques. It turns out that by exposing people to specific stimuli you can prime their brains to respond in certain ways. However, what if you want to do the persuading? Maybe you simply want to ask that adorable grocery clerk to go out on a date with you, but you’ve never had any luck. Can you get the tricks of persuasion to work in your favor? Here are a few ideas.
Don’t be too Direct
If you are asking out a woman, turns out that the least successful pickup lines are the direct ones. If you get straight to the point it is much too easy for your potential date to say, “no” and it might even been seen as too aggressive. Turns out women prefer potential dates to be innocuous when they approach them. If you really want a positive response, however, you have the best luck by being cute. Women like funny, witty, charming dates.
Give a Reason
Whether you are asking out a man or a woman, if you want a date, you will definitely increase your chances of success by giving a reason. A study by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer found that when subjects were waiting in line to use a photocopier, they were roughly 50 percent more likely to let someone cut in front of them if they used the word “because” and gave a reason—no matter what the reason was. However, giving a good reason is going to increase your chances even more.
Once you’ve offered up a good reason to go on a date with you, then make sure the object of your affection is given a choice. If you try to pressure a person to do what you want too overtly, you may encounter the principle of psychological reactance—that is, no one likes to be told what to do. In fact, maybe give them several choices like a late afternoon lunch or drinks and snacks at happy hour. People are less likely to refuse if they feel they are in control have choices.
Don’t Ask for the Moon
Don’t want someone to say no to your advances? Then don’t ask for something huge, like spending an entire Saturday at the amusement park as a first date. Start small. In a 2006 Psychology Today article, writer Katie Gilbert recommends getting a person to do a big favor by first persuading them to do a smaller one. Perhaps, you could just ask to have coffee to start with to get some advice about something you have in common. Then try asking for a real date!
Still not sure if Jason Silva can help you get a date? Watch this week’s episode and you might pick up a few more tips. And if you are trying to avoid being persuaded to go on that next bad date, Silva has some tips for you as well. Tune into Brain Games: The Power of Persuasion this Monday May 6 at 9PM et/pt and learn more about our decisions are swayed.