46. Influence - Social Proof

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/46. Influence - Social Proof

46. Influence - Social Proof


We continue with this special series on Persuasion and Influence on today’s episode of the show.

Social proof is a very powerful factor in determining how humans will react in any circumstance. This helps reinforce correct behavior and shape how your teams will respond to your directions.

This is part of a series of episodes exploring the persuasion techniques from Robert Cialdini. Leaders that learn to use the tools of influence and persuasion will see results from their teams that they never knew possible.Learn more at https://www.adamliette.com

Discover how to work with me: https://www.adamliette.com/work-with-me

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So we continue going through influence levers from child Dinis monumental book persuasion. If you haven't picked that up yet, what are you waiting for, you should have this book in your library, you should have read it six times by now. I'm just kidding. I've read at least 25 times. But, you know, this is something that we use our bread and butter when I was doing influence operations and psychological warfare. So obviously, there's some negative implications that come from that, but, you know, influences influences influence, and we can use influence in a very positive route. And that's really what I wanted to do with this series. So our next level of influence is social proof. So social proof is something that if you've been in marketing for five minutes, you know what social proof is, it's the testimonials we see the case studies are able to put on our sales pages and in our email, communications and all over the place. And that is certainly a thing. But that's not really what we're going to go into, for this chapter. For this episode, as we look at social proof from the team perspective. Now, the child DD book is particularly dark. To be honest, if you haven't read it yet, it gets into all sorts of things about how stories of suicide lead to like increases in plane crashes and automobile crashes, and then gets into some stuff with like cults and, you know, mass suicides, and it gets dark man, I'll be honest.

But there's a lot of positive things that we can garner from this, if we just kind of flip it and look at it through a different lens. So social proof tells us that it states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct. The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behavior, we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it. There's a big part in that, right. So as human beings, we're naturally looking to our left and right naturally look into what other people are doing to determine the correct behavior. You know, we see this where, you know, bad behavior will lead to more people doing a bad behavior. Like you'll see this and like I was watching watching college football. And what happens all it takes is for like two people to rush the field and the whole stadium clears out. Everyone's always waiting on a couple people to do something and saying, Yes, let's go do that. But not always positive things. But Let's view some positive things that we can do with our team. So one part that I really like is having parts of the business being displayed very publicly. So as an example, we would do weekly reports at the end of every single week. And it wasn't a matter of doing your weekly report, it was actually reporting that your weekly report was ready. So that simple act of posting it to a public thread in Slack saying, Here's my report, hope you had a great week, everyone, or whatever people chose to put next to theirs. I always did like an inspirational quote, that was part of what I did, just to bring more positivity and kind of pull my people in the right direction, that little bit of inspiration.

But having those reports submitted in a public manner, was really huge. It almost became like a contest for us where one report would get posted, everyone else would be like, Oh, yes, I have to do that. So it's reinforcing that correct behavior. Without you, the team leader having to do anything, you're letting your team do it, and worked so well, where we can report this became a thing that we got on a regular basis, it was really fun. I think I really liked to enforce through social proof was communication modalities. So I established uniform communication modalities where, you know, certain types of questions went into a sauna, certain types of questions will go through slack, answering questions we would make sure to do on a team meeting. So I would reinforce those through my own communication and through gentle reminders. Like, yeah, that's great. Can we save this for the meeting that we're having tomorrow on this particular subject, so reinforcing it and so everyone, eventually, over time, adopts those modalities and starts communicating in those ways. Communication modalities, I could probably do a whole episode just on that and I probably should. Now that I say that out loud. That's how I get so many ideas for this show. You But when we're reinforcing that overseeing everyone else communicate through those same ways of communicating, and platforms are communicating, it reinforces that and gets everyone to abide in that manner as well. So it's reinforcing desired behaviors until they become automatic. It's fantastic how that works when you reinforce the desired behaviors.

Alright, so there was a particular part in this chapter about, like different places in society where people would need help like people over on the side of the road, like the degree of which people would pull over to help someone or there was even a chapter about some woman getting stalked, it was crazy dark. But what we can get from this is that if someone needs help on our team, so often, our team members themselves are hesitant to jump in and help them. And what we see is that bystanders cannot be sure that what they're witnessing is, in fact, an emergency, they can't be sure of what they're seeing is, in fact, something that they should help with. But as soon as they see someone else stopping to help, it becomes infectious. So what I see a lot of when running teams is someone will jump into a general board, public board on the Slack channels, and state that they need help with something. And just having it kind of open and out there without having it directed towards someone, it's about a 5050 chance that that person actually gets the help thereafter. Because what happens is we're busy. We're going through our own task lists, we see it pop up in Slack, and what do we say to ourselves? Oh, that's not really my lane. Someone else can go do that. Well, I mean, yes or no, right? That's not the right answer, it can get ignored. And even if it is your lane, you're like, Oh, I'll get that later. Well, what happens we get busy. So request for help requests from the team to have assistance from someone else can there's a danger of it getting ignored. But as we know, giving help can be infectious where if one person jumps in and provides some, some guidance, or offers to jump in and do something, there does become that kind of Boulder effect where more people will jump in. And part of that is just a simple mechanics of getting that slack button to turn back on the light that a thread has something new on it.

Giving help is infectious. So a lot of times what I would do from my seat, trying to review what's going on on the team and just see something, if I see a team member that needs help on a particular thing. And it's not really my lane, not something I want to be involved in, I would directly reach out to another one of the team members and say, Hey, did you see this, can you please jump in. So behind the scenes, kind of pushing that person in the right direction, so they can jump in, and allow that infectious help to then foment from them taking action. So that's something I would strongly recommend you do kind of in the background, you're leading the team, you're not supposed to be always in the act of doing. And it might not even be your area of speciality, but it should be someone else's. So you can just behind the scenes, push that forward. Another way you can do that is through your daily communication, I would always do daily updates with my team, we'd have meetings, if I saw something, I just make a note of it and make sure it was brought up on the next team meeting. Or I reinforce it through my daily updates, basically, from my position and a leadership style, pointing my team back to a problem pointing my team towards inwards towards each other, to help each other solve the various problems that they would come about. And, you know, allowing that social proof to build up within itself, but not being the one that necessarily had to take the responsibility for it. What I'm doing is I'm just steering the trains in the right direction, I'm steering the ship. And steering the ship has is a certain art form. But once you get used to it, once you adapt it, that style of leadership becomes very infectious. Your team will be very grateful for it. That's the crazy thing that happens. You ask someone to help and they they say thank you for giving them work. It's a crazy thing that happens. But because we're utilizing these natural levers that are already within our brain, that's the beauty of all of these levers of influence is this as human nature. We're literally just taking what our brains are already doing and finding ways of directing them in the right direction. So if you do this correctly, you'll actually get thanked for asking someone to help. Crazy thing that happens, but it works.

Okay, kind of moving on from that is what we have seen and what Cialdini saw from research findings is that if we would, as he says, stare, speak and point directly At the person that you want to help, and no one else is example is saying, you sir, in the blue jacket, I need help call an ambulance. Well, most of us are remote, but from your seat in a leadership position, identifying who should help someone, someone on the team. So this kind of goes on from what we were just talking about and doing it kind of behind the scenes. But there's another way that we can do that in a more public manner. So what I like to do is create tiers of responsibility, where everyone is a has a primary role. And every role has a secondary person that is assigned to it. So something as simple as who's posting stuff to our Facebook page for the next week, there is someone that is in charge of it. And there is someone who's a backup, in case that person is sick, needed to take a leave of absence, you know, they're on holiday, or are they just overwhelmed, and we need to double up on that task, having those tears of communication or tears of responsibility. So you can be clear and communicate those ahead of time. That would often be something that would bleed into when we're doing task assignment on team meetings, where I would have that in my notes saying, Okay, well, we're having this module come out, so and so is in charge of editing and getting it implemented. And, hey, if you have questions, ask this other person, if you can help out if they need it. So identifying that ahead of time and letting people have that expectation in their mind that they may or may be asked to step in. Very subtle, but having that there's two things that come into play here, we immediately know the person that's supposed to help everyone else does as well. So there's that social proof aspect to it. But from a broader perspective, in terms of just team cohesion, and team work, everyone working together, it lets everyone know that they're supported that they do have each other's back. And a lot of very good can come from having a team that's sitting at that same wavelength all the time.

And that kind of leads into the fact that without this, people are so uncertain. And they're more likely to wait on others actions to decide how they should act themselves. So sometimes they're waiting on us or someone else on the team to act. But what we know is that team performance is infectious. And we start to prod someone, or empower them through other means to take ownership of a project to take ownership of a task. What we see is that they see that as proper behavior for themselves. And they want to then act upon those behaviors. Anytime it's already reinforcing what's going on in our brain. Those are powerful levers to pull. So the final thing gets into something I alluded to earlier, we're chatting, he goes into this diatribe about how a high profile suicide or high profile tragedy will end up having this effect of tragedies happening in other areas of society. So what the example that he was able to derive was that, like an airline crash will actually result in more airline crashes in the ensuing weeks. This actually has a name, it's called the weather effect.

And you can read more in in the the text about the weather effect. From a team perspective and what we can do as team leaders. There's a lot of things that do happen within a company. And not all of it's good. You know, we do come out, have roadblocks, we do have campaigns that don't go as well as we'd like to we have, you know, people that we have to bring onto the team and sometimes take them off the team as fire them or replace them. In your team communications, it's it becomes important when we have those negative stories to share those negative things to share, to make sure we're controlling them, and spinning it to what team members need to know in the moment. So this is not an excuse for not being transparent. I do believe in transparency. But think of how we can spin it in a positive direction that gives our team that then positive momentum moving forward. There can be a time and a place where we have to discuss some of the more negative aspects to it, and the right people to discuss that with but just as a as an example. So we're not just talking in vague generalities. If for example, you have a campaign or a launch that doesn't go as well as you had hoped. How can you spin this in a positive direction? Well, we brought in so many people into the new program. We were hoping on more, but we can see why we only came up with this amount because we just ran another promotion last month. And we have some data saying that, you know, a lot of people are interested in this right now. So letting people know, yes, the promotion data goes well as we had hoped. But there's a reason for that. And the reason is not you. The reason is that people are busy, they're doing other things. But don't worry, we got a lot of positive feedback and people will be joining in the future. So small, little kind of ancillary anecdote, but there's a lot you can gain from thinking of how to share negative news and how to control it in a way where it can be done in a positive manner. When doing your team communication. Again, not to be closed, guarded, or not transparent. But what is your concern in that moment, your concern is yes, you do have to share that something negative did happen. But if you do it in a positive framework, what is going to be the actual end implications that come from that, you're going to then get more positive actions from your team. So they're not working from that place of negativity, they hear the negative thing, they hear some positive spins about it. And now you have them working from a positive framework moving forward, so we can avoid that domino effect that was observed in the weather effect.

All right, lots of good things that can be done from social proof. Overall, I'd say your team is looking at one another, they are looking at you. And when you're building a team culture, there's so much we can do to encourage teamwork to encourage positive environments to encourage cross collaboration. Think of as many ways as possible, if something works for your team do more of it was something that one of my mentors says model success. So when you do see something working well do more of that. encourage those social dynamics to take place in your team to have a place in your team culture. And if you're reinforcing the right ones, you will get the right ones moving forward. So culture and social aspects of our team are a big deal. And we should try to take advantage of those as much as humanly possible.

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