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19 Ridiculously Simple Lessons in Persuasion

Lesson 13 - Anger

Anger is a powerful emotion that can improve your persuasion skills. But how?

Anger is from focusing on a past event or imagining some outcome of a future event. When you're focused on the past you're not in the present. The past doesn't really exist. It can't be touched. It seems real but it's just a memory in our minds that we allow to distract us from the present.

I'm angry as I write this from something my ex-boss did. I'll call him Dave. He failed to approve someone's access to documentation that I created and gave me a lame excuse.

Think about the last time you were angry. What caused it? There are 9 triggers of rage that have been identified by R. Douglas Fields.

Maybe this, plus the average reviews I got, and lack of a raise piss me off. Anger builds like a bubble and will eventually burst if the pressure's not released.

When you feel anger there's usually a persuasion failure at hand. You can learn from this lesson because two of the Cialdini 7 rules of persuasion Reciprocity and Liking are involved.

Part of my anger might have been a failure to persuade.

So the reason the ex-boss gave seemed weak, something about audit, blah, blah, blah. I'm so glad I'm not working for him anymore. He would rarely say hello, give praise or thank me. Everything to him was easy and he would sometimes raise his voice to me.

I don't like this guy and he probably doesn't like me. Maybe it's because I stopped working for him and started working for someone new. The interesting thing is he tried to put me into a confirmation bias trap, bad-mouthing my new boss.

So I take responsibility for my failure to persuade but I have a few take-aways:

This wasn't something worth fighting for so I didn't pursue it enough to get him to change his mind. I gave up too easily. I could have taken him down and stopped him from continuing the ridiculous rules the freaken bureaucrat was following that I believe he just made up.

Seems like he's trying to get back at me or he's just trying to protect his turf. He doesn't want people to take his IP (intellectual property).

I wasn't likable enough to him. This may be a negative reciprocity event, where he's getting back at me for some slight or thing real or imagined that I did to him.

The weird thing is that this is in a way to my advantage. As my co-worker thinks I have his back but isn't getting information that I have access to. In addition, most of the information was created by me.

So what angers you? Keep records of anytime you feel this emotion and try to identify the trigger. Once you've identified these triggers you can use them to improve your likeability by doing their opposite.

I'm listening to a Scott Adams' podcast and my wife suggests, "You can listen to it in the car." More anger.

I'm not sure why this made me angry. Mindfulness can help reduce the anger by noticing the anger instead of allowing your brain to go into automatic reaction mode.

Remember that making or causing anger in someone may get them to return it to you via the reciprocation principle.

Later I ask my son (really a persuasion attempt) to start a blog. He balks at the idea. I give him a number of benefits to doing it but he still balks. I try to persuade him to watch a Scott Adams video called "The Day You Became a Great Writer" and he balks. This made me angry.

One thing you can do with your anger is the 4Y technique. Just as 4 times "Why?"

Anger is often misplaced. We yell at our spouse because the boss was mean. We get angry at the dog because the toilet stuck. The two most important things to do with anger is:
  1. Ask yourself how could it have been worse?
  2. What triggered the anger and be careful not to use this to trigger someone else
  3. Ask what is the real reason I'm angry
Be aware that your anger can have very negative consenquences:
  • Fights
  • Law suits
  • Jail time
Some questions to explore:Some exercises:

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