A Driving Force in Persuasion by Kevin Hogan

People typically regret what they did just as much as what they did NOT do. You will need to be fluent in all the ways to utilize feelings of regret in persuasive communication. Let’s begin with simple and overt techniques.

“I wish I would have…”
“I really should have…”
“If I had to choose again, I would…”

And so it goes. This is part of your personal history and it’s part of mine. Because feelings of regret or anticipating future regret are so driving and intense, they constantly are motivating your behavior and mine.

Utilizing regret and the anticipation of regret in communication is something that you absolutely must learn in order to be persuasive. Utilizing the tools covertly and subtly will make you a genius of influence. And ethically utilizing regret and the anticipation of regret is one of the keys to your future success.

…Imagine… you present them with a choice. They can buy you or your product…your service. Or not.

What is going to push the button for them to say “Yes!”?

It’s easier than your trainer taught you.

KEY: You are going to have your client tell you what happens if they don’t do what you suggest.

You could say, “Well, if you don’t X, this is going to happen to you.” They could say, “Yeah, you’re right.”
And it does NOT matter. They can still say “No!”

Instead, you MUST have your client develop a future time line (or several) where they create in THEIR MIND what happens if they don’t use you, your product or service.

This is true no matter what you sell or what change you are attempting to get someone to make.

Example: The client is struggling with a decision to purchase a simple term-life policy. (An extremely SMART move for a parent.) “If you don’t buy life insurance what is going to happen to your kids if you die unexpectedly in a car crash?”

“I don’t know. I suppose that my wife would have to work two full time jobs to support them.”

“And how do you feel about that?”

“I think that it would work but it would be tough… No. I don’t like it. I think it would screw up everything.”

“And you know what, when children lose a parent they lose an income source and a love source. It is devastating.”

And of course, the client will buy some amount of insurance (as well they should). The anticipation of regretting NOT buying the life insurance is simply TOO great. The pressure is intense and the simple but crucial act of thinking about this future cements the action that must be taken.

Example: Buying a house. The internal struggle after looking at houses is there. Buyers can’t decide.

“And what is it that got you to start looking for houses this month?”

“Well, we were outgrowing our old house and it was getting to be too much stress to keep it up.”

“So what stresses are you going to have again if you don’t move now?”

“I think we’ll just go back to that day to day stress.”

“Is that acceptable?”

“No. We really do need to move.” 

KEY: Had the client said, “I think we’ll just go back to the day to day stress but that could be OK.,” the decision to
NOT buy has NOT been made. In fact, research shows that just analyzing the future options encourages compliance to your request. You don’t need to put in false beliefs or false scenarios for anticipated regret to be incredibly effective. It’s never ethical or good persuasive technique to paint unrealistic pictures for a client. Doing the RIGHT thing is ALWAYS the right thing to do.

By having the client describe for you what will happen, you keep your ideas out of the client’s future and allow the client to sort through their experiences and project their own future.

If a client is missing something obvious, it is absolutely ethical to suggest the possibility of the obvious happening. But if you suggest something that is remote in nature, you run a great risk of “buyer’s remorse,” (the client cancels the transaction later), the client will not change their behavior, and they will not feel comfortable doing business with you again.

The ability to influence is
the single most important element in communication in business, selling, a
professional practice, and intimate relationships.

Kevin Hogan - Science of Influence imageScience
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Kevin Hogan's Influence Persuasion Bootcamp 2014