Are You Making This Persuasion Mistake?
If you’ve ever wondered what The Bridge on the River Kwai, psychotic strangers, Abraham Maslow, concrete rebar and flaky surgeons have to do with persuasion and sales skills then you’ll want to read this…
The Surprise Hero of the Story
In the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness plays the part of the British officer who is tortured by the Japanese to force his men to build a bridge that has military value to the Japanese.
Guinness finally consents when he thinks that perhaps allowing his men to build the bridge would be good therapy for them.
His men on the other hand think its some kind of trick. They think they are supposed to sabotage the bridge. What they don’t understand is the mindset of this British officer.
Guinness plays a character who takes pride in his country, his army, his work. Delivering anything less than the best is not in his thoughts. In fact, he wants to prove to the Japanese that the British build the finest bridges in the world.
The interesting turn in the story occurs when an American solider arrives trying to destroy the bridge. Alec Guinness fights to keep the solider from blowing up the bridge, a bridge that is helping the Japanese fight the Americans.
Now let me ask you: who’s the hero of the story?
It’s not William Holden. It’s Alec Guinness. Why is that?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow years ago presented an idea known as the “heirarchy of needs.” In his representation of this hierarchy of needs, he’s set up a pyramid:
The idea is that through life you gradually work your way up that pyramid.
As a baby, your only concern is food, water, sleep. As you get older, you realize that your parents and the house you live in protects you. About age 3 you understand that the world does not revolve around you. About 13 you kind of return back to yourself, craving to feel important, to be independent.
And finally, you want to have purpose. Not only that, but you want to achieve all of your dreams. You want to burn up, not burn out.
Later in his life, though, Maslow added to more needs: the need for consistency and the need for order.
This is the answer to why Alec Guinness is the hero of the Bridge Over River Kwai.
He’s a person that is consistent and predictable. He has a set of values that he does not waver from.
In fact, if you remember, in the early part of the movie you see this as he endures enormous torture from heat and isolation, but never backs down from his original statement. It’s not until he’s relieved and allowed to determine their fate.
This means he’s a person who can be trusted.
How This Applies to Real Estate
Imagine if this happened to you:
A surgeon says, “Sorry to say this, but you are going to need a quadruple bypass surgery.”
And you say, “Can’t we just do a double bypass?”
He then replies, “Alright, we’ll do a double and see how you do after that.”
How secure would you feel after that?
The same applies in business and persuasion. In fact, a huge part of persuasion deals with consistency.
The rule of thumb is this: we tend to trust the people who are reliable, consistent and predictable.
Say you live in house on a street with just one other house. You’re not going to trust the total stranger who moves in there until he demonstrates he’s stable, consistent or predictable.
If he proves himself to be off his rocker or strange or unpredictable, do you think you are going to trust him if he comes over and says, “Hey, can I borrow your car? I need to run to the store.”
I hope not.
Neither should your clients trust you if you blow off phone calls or cave in at every suggestion. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get them to agree with anything you suggest.
I find it impossible to respect, let alone trust, someone who is flaky, shallow or weak. What about you?
On the flip side of it, demonstrate that you are a person of consistency and you will have people eating out of your hand [okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get my point].
Consistency in behavior, especially in difficult or tense times, is the biggest part to influencing people.
That’s why it’s so imporatnt to figure out what you stand for, what your values are, what makes you tick, what ticks you off.
Create that marketing plan, dust off that personal mission statement.
Then it’s important to get a backbone as rigid as rebar. If you want to be a person of influence then you need to have what it takes to stand the heat.
If you don’t, then you are making a big mistake.
Expect people to walk over you. More importantly, expect to feel like your life is out of control, that you are a victim.