How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Getting in the votes
An interesting and life-changing persuasion task is getting others to vote for you, whether it is a TV talent show or presidential elections. Both are of interest recently. I am following 'The X-Factor' on British TV (same as 'American Idol' in the USA). I was also interviewed recently for the US 'Peace Talks' radio with regard to persuading swing voters.
In the X-Factor, other than their performance, the contestants get a few words with the judges and a front shot for a minute whilst the show presenter talks about them. Whilst talking to the judges, a technique for showing courage and neutralizing criticism that can work is to stand up to them when criticized, although those can backfire, especially as the judges have the last word. Will Young, a former winner, famously wrong-footed Simon Cowell by berating him for criticizing a previous candidate, thus showing himself to be an all-round nice, caring guy.
In the bit where contestants stand by the presenter who is telling viewers hw to vote for them, many have taken to making pleading gestures (hands together in prayer and supplication) and holding an invisible phone to their ear. An even more effective method that has been used with success recently by bottom-runners is to mouth 'thank you'. This is a neat assumptive method that act as if the viewer has already chosen you.
In the presidential context, national votes are also desired, though the electorate are more significantly affected by the outcome. On the radio show, where the other interviewees included Howard Gardner (of multiple intelligences fame) I was asked what advice I would give to candidates. Two things I said were about 'being' and fishing.
If a candidate wants to convince their electorate they are for change, peace, prudence or whatever, they not only need to talk about it, they must also 'be' it, making it a central part of their actions and thoughts. The strapline for this website is 'what others think, feel believe and do' -- the same is true if you want to display real conviction: it has to be a clear part of who you are. The study of being and existence is called 'ontology'. You could thus say that candidates should be ontological models of their policies. Woo! Big words big effect, too.
In terms of fishing, candidates should fish where the fish are. Thus, for example, many young people spend more time on facebook than watching TV -- so an active presence there, with volunteers stirring debates and spreading the word, makes sense. If you can get social networking leaders enthused, your message will travel a long way on 'wings of its own'.
All mass pleas, whether for votes or other support, can learn from looking not just at what the competition are doing but also at parallel fields, as above. Thus, for example, charities could study electioneering and election campaigners could study conspiracy theorists. Each has its techniques and each can learn from others. This has a lot to do with the ethos of changingminds.org -- to seek patterns across a wide field.
At the time of writing, the X-Factor is about half way through the series and the US Presidential elections are upon us. Barack Obama has a poll lead but McCain is not giving up. Who will win? We'll find out who the next US President is very soon. The X-Factor will have to wait until just before Christmas, when the winner will release their (as usual) chart-topping single.