Twenty-five hundred years ago, Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, was the first to study logic and reason. He considered the emotions a sort of human failing and a disruptive force. Emotions interfere with logic and reason and should be suppressed so that decisions can be made through logical and reasoning actions. Since humans are capable of deliberation, we therefore are in control of our actions.
For most of the last 2,500 years, our beliefs have been that decision-making is a rational process and that our ability to reason can overrule our emotions. We have believed that our decisions have been based on facts and that analysis is key to good decisions. Emotions should not interfere with our decisions. We have essentially placed logic on a pedestal and kicked emotions to the curb.
So when we are attempting to influence others into agreement or compliance, we use logic and reason. We supply a well-thought out presentation of the facts and figures that should lead others to the appropriate conclusion: the conclusion we want them to arrive at so that they will agree or comply. Well, guess what …
If you have been using logic and reason to influence others, science proves you wrong.
Modern real-time brain imaging techniques demonstrate that the logical thinking brain mostly does not even get a shot at making decisions. The primitive brain (limbic system), specifically the amygdala, receives all sensory inputs and will make quick decisions, based on the need to protect us, using our own life experiences.
The limbic system is the unthinking part of the brain that controls autonomic functions such as breathing and heart rate. The small, almond-shaped amygdala is the center of emotions. It is responsible for making us freeze when danger is detected and getting the body prepared to flee or fight. It protects us.
Another function of the amygdala is to store the emotions along with the facts of an event into memory. This emotional tagging is later used to compare new information with the stored events and make a quick decision based on the similarities with stored information. This process should make sense. How difficult would it be to have to analyze every single daily event using our rational, thinking brain?
We begin the process of emotional tagging at birth and continue throughout our lives. When we remember some past event, the emotional tags come to the forefront, which is why witnesses to an event have such differing recollections of the facts. They remember the emotions better than the facts.
Therefore, we all walk around with a Personal Amygdala Guidance System – PAGS. Our PAGS makes it possible to function quickly and without undue thinking. The amygdala makes sure that the first reaction is always emotional. It is the gatekeeper. In cases where the amygdala is damaged, those individuals are incapable of making any decisions.
The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has stated, “A rational decision? Don’t bet on it. Could it be that there is no such thing as a rational decision when it comes to anything involving yourself?” Renowned neurologist, Dr. Richard Restak adds, “We are not thinking machines, we are feeling machines that think.”
So what does this mean to us personally and in our business? If you want to influence others, you have to talk to the emotional amygdala. Your presentation must be framed in an emotion-triggering format that appeals to the particular individual’s PAGS. Frame your presentation to your audience ensuring to address the emotions.
I recently conducted a webinar for TechNation where I talked about 7 powerful triggers that can be used to help others feel the right emotions to agree and comply. These triggers cause the amygdala to agree and comply without having to get the thinking brain involved.
One of the triggers, and probably most powerful, is the friendship trigger. We will do anything for someone who is our friend or at least perceived that way. If we can invoke the amygdala’s friendship trigger by saying and doing the things that a friend would do, it takes the shortcut of agreeing and complying without getting the reasoning brain involved. This is why many of us get taken advantage of so easily. Our PAGS say go ahead and trust even in the face of logical reasons to the contrary.
Another very powerful trigger is the hope trigger. We buy lottery tickets, drink the beer with the good looking people in the commercials, we spend billions on cosmetics, and move to Vegas to play poker. President Snow in the “Hunger Games” movie said, “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”
To view the webinar and see the discussion of all 7 triggers, please click here.
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