The Unbelievably Simple way to Improve Participation

Good day PRL readers!

Last week we touched on ways that you can negatively influence an outcome: The Poochie Effect. By immediately presenting a solution to a question, we shut people out of the solution process and remove their intrinsic desire to be valuable.

Lead people to your conclusions with Pacing
Lead people to your conclusions with Pacing. Flicker, US Army, CC-By-2.0

Today I want to talk about pacing. Pacing is when you get early agreement in a conversation, and slowly lead somebody to reach your goal.

Pacing is the opposite of the Poochie Effect, and it’s essential to Persuasion and Social Hypnosis.

With pacing, we start the conversation with facts or a shared opinion. We get people to say yes early in the conversation. We give people the feeling that their opinions and positions matter, because of course, they do.

Slowly, we move the conversation away from facts, to shared opinions, eventually towards the point that we want to make (if we seek agreement) or towards our goal (of increased participation).

When you get the participants saying Yes early in the conversation, the chance of them following you to your logical conclusion is vastly higher. Because everyone started with Yes, and the opening points were all things we could agree on, participants aren’t on the defensive and they’re more willing to follow your thoughts.

Pacing is one tool among many that we’ll discuss here on PRL. Whenever you can combine influential and persuasive tools, your success rate will increase.

Let me give you an example of Pacing.

I was in a company meeting not long ago. The first thing the leader of this meeting asked was, “We all work for the same company, right?” This was a fact. Everybody said Yes. This sentence also spoke to our core common identity, which is a tool essential in persuasion.

Next, the leader asked, “We are all here to find a solution to this problem, right?” Of course that’s why we were there. Everybody said Yes again. Obvious, isn’t it?

We didn’t begin the meeting with finger pointing or defensive positions. We were saying Yes. From the start, the meeting was non-confrontational and successful.

The influential moves to increase participation were:

  • Using pacing to get everyone starting with Yes, and
  • Highlight a common identity, so we feel connected to the common cause

These two Persuasion Tools get everyone in the same emotional state, and lead to more productive conversations.

Pacing can help you avoid arguments that may damage a relationship. When you have some crazy idea that you fear will be shot down, try pacing along with the other techniques that will be discussing in the future to build rapport and get the people on board with your plans.

I’ll write more about Pacing and how it impacts Rapport and Charisma in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, comment below to share where you see pacing in your day-to-day activities.