The first time Dan Pink spoke on stage about his book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others (buy it if you haven’t already!).
Like it or not, we’re all in sales now. A survey of over 7000 working Americans found that they spent 41% of their time convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something they offered. 1 in 9 people worked in sales before the internet era and today 1 in 9 people still work in sales, but it would be a mistake to think that the internet has had no influence. In this funny, entertaining, thought-provoking and cheering talk, Dan Pink explains why sales isn’t what it used to be and how our basic human nature means many of us are much better at than we realise.
Video and Transcript of Dan Pink’s Talk.
Get on the BoS Conference Mailing List
Be first to see new videos, join free speaker hangouts, stay up to date on BoS Conference programmes and a regular dose of thought provoking ideas from around the web that will make you look smarter at home & at work.
Unsubscribe anytime. We will never sell your email address.
You can access videos of all the talks at Business of Software 2012 from here.
Dan Pink: It’s a real, it’s a real thrill to be here. As it happens I just finished writing a book. I just finished writing a new book. I submitted 90 – well I finished 96 percent of it. Submitted 96 percent of it. 96 percent is in production right now. The final 4 percent I have to get done in the next 48 hours or I have to enter a witness protection program in Idaho.
But I wanted, and this is the first time I have ever talked about this book since submitting it, so… (and I wanted to do it here for two reasons).
Number one is that you guys understand the notion of a minimally viable product and number two, a big reason that I actually ended up writing this book, and it’s a book about sales, is because of Neil Davidson.
Stand up Neil. [applause]
Let me tell you a little story here. So a few years ago I wrote a book called ‘Drive’ and that books makes an argument about motivation and the core concept of that book is essentially this: that there’s a certain kind of motivator that we use inside of organizations. What I call ‘an if then motivator’ as in, if you do this, then you get that. A controlling contingent motivator. And I went back and looked at about 50 years of social science and discovered something that ought to both inspire us an alarm us.
And it was essentially this: that if then rewards, those controlling contingent rewards, those mainstay rewards that organizations use, are extremely effective for simple, routine algorithmic tasks. Adding up columns of figures. Turning the same screw on an assembly line. Stuffing envelopes. But, once you get past rudimentary cognitive skill, those kinds of incentives, those kinds of rewards – not all – but that particular class of rewards, those ‘if then’ rewards, don’t work very well. They don’t work very well for heuristic tasks. They don’t work very well for conceptual tasks. They don’t work very well for creative tasks. So I wrote that book.
About three days after I wrote the book, much to my delight and dismay depending on the day of the week, I put my email address on the jacket of every book I’ve written, so I get a lot of email from readers. And I started getting some email from people saying, ‘If this is right, and you’re probably more right than wrong, what about sales people? Isn’t sales built entirely on ‘if then’ rewards?’
And my response to that was ‘Ah crap.’ I said ‘Ahh’. So I started – and we have this belief that sales people are not like you and me. That sales people are, to use the adjective that we often hear, sales people are coin operated. You put a quarter in their back, they do a little dance. When the time runs out you’ve got to put another quarter in for them to continue dancing.
Then I got an email from a guy named Neil Davidson. As it happened I was heading to the other Cambridge, the real Cambridge to do some work and Neil said, ‘I’ve got this company, I did something really weird. I had a sales force. I have a sales force. I’m a software company and I have a sales force. And I noticed something peculiar. I had a sales team and I noticed that this sales team was…’ this will shock you. ‘…gaming the compensation system.’
‘So I made the compensation system, the commission system more complex. And you know, you’re not going to believe what they did. They upped their game.’
‘And finally,’ Neil told me, ‘I said “No more. I’m the CEO I’m going to lay down the gauntlet. I’m going to do something different and I’m going to eliminate commissions for my sales force.”’ Whoa. All right. This is now – Now we’re at the level of heresy, sacrilege. The level of sacrilege. We’re at the level of doing things that violate the natural laws of human kind. And Neil said, ‘It worked. Why?’
A number of different things. Number one, taking away those individual commissions and actually replacing it with a very healthy, you know, compensation system made people more collaborative. ‘Why should I help Fred if I don’t get a piece of the action, if I help Fred sell?’ Customers liked it better. It freed up Neil’s time to do things besides litigate and adjudicate the compensation system.
Then I started hearing from other people who had eliminated commissions for their sales force. Weird companies. Big companies like Microchip Technology in Phoenix. A multi-billion dollar a year, multi-billion dollar market ca- public company. I said, ‘This is really weird.’ and so what I started doing is I said ‘God, I am totally interested in this sales stuff. I know nothing about it. Let’s write a book about it.’
Because that’s my – I mean, you guys’ response, I mean, we have a lot in common. You guys’ response is ‘Let’s write some code about it.’ Mine is like, ‘Let’s write some sentences about it.’ It’s basically the same kind of thing, we choose a different language right?
We sit alone in rooms, unshaven, swearing at computers, right?
So, and then magically, in a way that mystifies both our friends and our spouses and our partners and our colleagues, somehow, something results out of it, and it never seems like it’s going to happen. But it often does.
So, I want to tell you about what I found out in this two year investigation of sales. Let’s start here. I’m going to start with a word. I’m going to start with a word. A word. It’s a word. It’s a word. This is a word. Hold on. Yes, it’s a word. That makes folks like you roll their eyes, but it’s the kind of work that makes business gurus and analysts, helps them feed their family. And it’s this word right here. Yep. Thank you. You can all hiss and boo. ‘Disintermediation’. Remember this? We all know this word right? And this is what we said is going to – this is obviously what is happening to sales people across the planet. Right?
When you can find, especially in the B to C market. That sales people have become obsolete. That in a world of Amazon and Expedia when we can do our own research, compare our own prices, when we can text our friends and our social network to find out what’s going on. That sales people are going the way of meter maids and milkmen, and telephone operators.
It’s not clear to me everybody knows what a meter maid or a milkman is.
So, if you don’t I – if you’re sort of, under 30, just look it up on Wikipedia or something.
Well, I beg to differ. Let’s take a look. Right now in the Uni- Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the United States of America, the planet’s largest economy, we have 15 million people who work in sales. 15 million people who earn their living trying to get someone else to make a purchase. They’re insurance sales men and women. They are real estate agents. They might be some of the sales force in your company. 15 million people. That’s a lot.
But let’s look at it relatively. Let’s look at it relatively. Take a look at this chart. All right. Everybody loves – does this have a laser pointer on it? Ah. Everybody loves complaining about the size of government. We got way more sales people than we have. If you got every single person working for the U.S. federal government, you got way more sales people than working for all the entire U.S. federal government. You add up everybody working for the State governments in all 50 States, you’ve got more sales people than that. You add up the Federal government and State government, you’ve still got more sales people.
We have a two trillion dollar a year manufacturing economy. We got more sales people than we have manufacturing workers in this country. So, let’s talk about the trend line. In 2000 before the rise of disintermediation, before the internet became fully ensconced in, fully ensconced in our lives. Before tablets and smart phones and social networking and so forth, one out of nine Americans worked in sales. Today? One out of nine Americans works in sales. So, this whole disintermediation and I’ll say it, ‘Death of a Salesman’ meme, isn’t quite right. The facts don’t back that up.
But to my mind, that’s not even the big story. The big story is something else altogether. The big story is this. You see those other eight of nine on that pie chart? Anybody grow – I grew up in Columbus – this is a side note. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. Anybody? All right. These are people obviously never been to Columbus.
Oh wait, hold on.
Sp3 Oh Ay.
Dan Pink: I Oh. All right. So I just noticed that I actually have, are you at Ohio State Grad?
Dan Pink: No, but you just like to yell out letters in crowds. Yeah. No, I just happened to notice those are the Ohio State colors. That’s it. It’s football season. I didn’t even go to Ohio State. But I grew up in the shadow of Ohio State. But enough about me.
Let’s look at the scarlet, that sales worker’s one out of nine. But I think what’s interesting is what’s happened to those other eight out of nine. That other eight out of nine. That other eight out of nine, I’ve got to find out what’s happening to them. The other – oh yes, the other eight out of nine. They’re in sales too. They’re in sales too. They end up being in what I call ‘non-sales selling’.
They’re not pushing Buicks on a car lot, or La-Z-Boy lounge chairs in a furniture show room. But they are spending huge portions of their day selling in a broader sense. They are convincing, persuading, influencing other people to give up resources and make an exchange. Not only money. Not goods and services. But things like time and attention and other kinds of resources.
Teachers sell students on the value of paying attention in class. Entrepreneurs sweet talk funders. Physicians sell patients on a remedy. Whatever we do. I mean we deliver – think about our days. We deliver presentations to employees. We try to convince the HR department to loosen up some money from the budget to give us some extra vacation days.
So I had this sense. ‘Wait a second. Those other eight out of nine are in this thing called “non-sales selling”. The cash register doesn’t ring. Money doesn’t immediately change hands, but that’s what we do.’ And I said, ‘Okay this is interesting hypothesis that you have there Daniel, let’s take a look at it.’
So what I did is, for the first time, I actually did some pretty significant survey research. I teamed with a data analytics firm and we went out into the field and we surveyed, 7000 adult full time U.S. workers. We went with a very big, very big, very big sample. Very representative sample. And I was trying to get a handle, in this sample – in this survey of what people actually do at work. What do we actually do day to day? What goes on? How do we actually spend our time. I’m not going to torture you with the full results of that survey. But I want to tell you one question that we asked that I think is illustrative and interesting and it is this.
We asked this question. ‘What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value, attention, effort, money, time etc. for something you can offer? Everything’s on this screen too. What percentage of your work
involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value, attention, effort, money, time, for something you can offer? Okay? And we also have, this is my favorite kind of survey question because you get to use a slider. See that slider there? And what we had people do is slide that over to the percentage of time in a day that you spend doing this.
So we asked again, 7,000 full time U.S. workers what percentage of their time they spend doing this. And here’s what they told us. The average, the mean, was 41 percent. People were reporting that they’re spending 41 percent of their time doing these kinds of things. Convincing, persuading, cajoling, influencing. Think about that for a second. 40 percent of their time. That’s 24 minutes of every hour at work. That’s what people are doing. Very interesting. And I think what this tells us this, is that, and there’s some other data to back this up, is this.
Like it or not, we’re all in sales now. This idea of what I call ‘moving other people’, persuading, convincing, influencing, is at the heart of what white collar workers do. It doesn’t matter what their formal job title is. It doesn’t matter whether they’re an accountant or whether they’re a programmer, or whether they’re in marketing, a significant portion of what they do involves moving other people.
Today, like it or not, we got one out of nine in traditional sales. We got eight out of nine in non-sales selling. Most of you are in non-sales selling. Like it or not we’re all in sales now.
And you know what? We don’t like it very much. Why? Well, let me tell you some other stuff that I found out. I asked this question too. We asked 7000 adult full time workers ‘When you think of sales or selling, what is the first word that comes to mind?’ So let me ask you this question. When you think of this, this concept of sales or selling, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
Shout out from the audience: Slimy.
Dan Pink: Slimy, good.
Shout out from Frank Slickman: Hero.
Dan Pink: One sales guy says hero. What else? Seriously. This is an interesting way to get people’s attitudes, because if you confine them to one word, you get kind of visceral, quick responses. So what’s one….
Shout out: Shyster.
Dan Pink: Shyster. Dishonest. Shark. Cheap. All right. Here we go. So we asked 7000 adult full time workers this question and I tabulated the responses which were quite extraordinary and what I did is, I took out the top 25 adjectives. I took the top 25 adjectives. The top 25 adjectives. Some people would do things that were kind of – a few people would use nouns or essentially synonyms for sales or selling. But I took the – adjectives are more emotionally useful. So I took the top 25 adjectives in the survey and I put it in a word cloud so I got a word cloud. And here is the word cloud of the top 25 adjectives that people think of when they think of the word sales, or selling.
Take a look at that. The biggest one by far ‘pushy’. All right? Of those, I think it’s 21 have a negative valence, four have a positive valence. Look at these words up there. First of all, they were interjections. All right? People offered interjections. ‘Yuck’ ‘ugh’ ‘ick’. Look at these adjectives. We already have one of them here. Thing about this. ‘Sleazy, cheesy, slimy.’ These are like the seven dwarves nobody talks about, right?
This is what we think of sales. This is what we think of sales and I want to make the argument to you, well, it makes us think. It’s like ‘Oh God, so Pink is saying we’re all in sales now. Does that mean this is how I have to be? I have to sleazy and manipulative and..’ Well there’s some things there. ‘Fun. Essential. Boring. Sleazy.’ ‘That’s how I have to be?’ And I want to argue to you right now, the answer to that question is ‘No.’
This view of sales is a very widely held view of sales. Sales is basically deceit, deception, sleaze-baggery. To me, it has very little to do with the nature of sales itself, and everything to do with the conditions in which sales have long taken place and essentially, everything in a modern economy, we know about the conditions in which the modern economy has taught us about sales.
Let me tell you what I mean by this. Most of what we know about sales, again, whether it’s traditional sales or non-sales selling, comes from a world of information asymmetry, right? The seller always had more information than the buyer. This is the conditions in the economy until, like, not that long ago. Right? The last decade or so. The seller always had more information than the buyer. When the seller has more information than the buyer, the seller can hoodwink the buyer. That can lead to shenanigans and that’s how every kind of sales encounter has been. Ten years ago you would go into a car dealership, the seller knew more about – car dealer knew more about the Chevy than you did. You tried to go on a vacation, the travel agent knows more about the travel package than you did. You want to buy an appliance at an appliance store, the seller’s going to know more about the appliance than you have, because that seller has more access to information.
A massive imbalance. An asymmetry of information, between seller and buyer. Well, that’s what we know about sales. And that led to a certain approach, a certain view of sales that we took and a certain posture we took when we’re in the other side of the sales situation.
What is the one, two words of Latin that most people in America, the only two words of Latin most Americans know?
Caveat emptor. There you go. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. We had to beware because the seller always knew more. It was a world of caveat emptor. But here’s the thing. Caveat emptor is a world of, caveat emptor is a world of information asymmetry. And that world is ending. Just think about this at the most mundane level. You could – this is still good advice, but this information asymmetry is ending at a level that is kind of mind boggling.
Give you an example. I interviewed a number of car dealers, not that long ago. Yeah – a lot of fun.
Actually, it’s really interesting. Well, maybe if we have time for questions we can talk more about it. I actually went to work at a this old fashioned used car lot. Not a dealer-owned car lot, but basically the car lot of last resort for people, in this like, dusty road in Lana [sounds like], Maryland. To see how these old fashioned car lots worked. And it’s actually it’s some very interesting findings from that when you compare it to a place like Carmax [sounds like]. Anybody ever bought a car at Carmax. I mean, Carmax is, it’s actually a really interesting example. So lets take cars here for a second.
Get on the BoS Conference Mailing List
Be first to see new videos, join free speaker hangouts, stay up to date on BoS Conference programmes and a regular dose of thought provoking ideas from around the web that will make you look smarter at home & at work.
Unsubscribe anytime. We will never sell your email address.
You go into a car dealer, even 15 years ago, the sales person didn’t know the invoice price of the car. In many dealerships, the invoice price of a car was locked in a safe. The sellers didn’t even know it. Now, my 78 year old mother can waltz into the Nissan dealer and say ‘Hey, I know what you paid for this.’ That’s a massive change. We’ve gone from information asymmetry to something close to information parity.
And then it’s harder for me to get hoodwinked and even if I do get hoodwinked, I can tell everybody. I can tell all my Facebook friends. I can make that a kind of video that that dude who got his luggage lost by United Airlines made. Which all of you know about by even that oblique reference to it.
I can tweet about it. I can blog about it. And so, in this world of information symmetry. I mean, think about it. I got some other examples here okay?
If a travel agent tries to sell me a package I can verify what she’s talking about on Trip Advisor. If somebody offers me a job and says ‘Oh, we’re a great culture here.’ I can go to Glass Door and say ‘Ooh, is this person really telling me the truth?’ I couldn’t do that ten years ago. No matter what kind of sales it was, it was about information asymmetry. That led to hoodwinkery. But you can’t rip people off in a world of close to information parity. That’s why that awesome word cloud isn’t wrong, it’s just out of date.
It’s just out of date. It describes another era. Because we’re now in an era not of caveat emptor but caveat venditor. Seller beware. Seller beware. If you’re the buyer, if you’re a buyer and you’ve got just as much information as the seller along with the means to talk back, you’re no longer the one who has to be on notice. A world of information parity is a world of caveat venditor. This is not a world that is different in degree. It is a world that is different in kind. It is a world of sales and non-sales selling that is different in kind. What it does is, it forces people to the high road, whether they want to go there or not.
You can still take the low road, there’s no question about that. But the low road is less and less of an option. If you take it, you’re not going to get very far for very long. And what that does is, it forces people to the high road and calls for a fundamentally different approach to how we sell. Again, whether we’re pushing Buicks on a car lot or peddling ideas in a meeting.
And so, based on this kind of conceptual springboard, what I’ve said is that, if this analysis is right, or if it’s more right than wrong, that we’re all in sales in some fashion. But sales isn’t what it used to be. How do we do this? And how do we do it well?
So I went to social science and said – looked at it very intensely and said, ‘What do we have to do?’ and I think I’ve identified three key qualities that are necessary in moving other people in a world of caveat venditor. And also, three key abilities. But let’s talk about these three qualities. Three qualities. These describe how to be. These qualities describe how to be.
I want to talk about some of these and then go deeper on one that I think really connects to what you’re talking about with regard to users. Let’s start here. Anybody know who that guy is? That is a very young, a young and startlingly handsome Alec Baldwin. All right. Anybody see the movie Glengarry, Glen Ross? The movie’s being revived on Broadway. This scene, which is one of the classic scenes in the cinema sales. Is actually not in the play Glengarry Glen Ross. It was added to the movie. It’s an unbelievable scene. Have you people seen this scene?
One of the things that, yeah, it’s awesome. So what he says is, he says, you know, ‘First prize is a Cadillac el Dorado. Second prize, set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired. Any questions?’ And then he starts giving them a kind of sales tutorial and he flips this green chalkboard down and he says, A B C. A – always B – be C – closing. Always be closing, always be closing, always be closing, always be closing. And that is sort of the steamroller approach to sales. I think those ABCs have been replaced by a different and more subtle set of ABCs. The three qualities that are most necessay in moving people today. Attunement, buoyancy and clarity. Attunement, buoyancy and clarity. We’ve gone from always be closing to attunement, buoyancy and clarity. Let me describe briefly what each of these are, because I think they are really cool and interesting and then, tell you a little bit about the first one.
Attunement. This is the ability to take another’s perspective. To take another’s perspective. To sort of get inside their head, to see the world through their eyes, to bring your actions and your outlook into harmony with other people and with the context that you’re in.
It’s a technique of understanding where people are coming from. It’s a technique of something that I call ‘social cartography’ that some of the very skilled sales people can walk into a setting and almost in their heads they have a Google map. Who’s related to who? Who’s where on the hierarchy? How do these people relate to each other? It’s an incredible capacity. It’s a very human capacity. You can’t outsource it, you can’t automate it, to understand where people are coming from.
We’re going to talk more about that in a moment.
Buoyancy. Our second one. How many of you are in sales sales? Okay. You’ll appreciate this. I interviewed a fellow, anybody ever heard of Fuller Brush? Okay. So basically I’ve identified the people in the audience over 40.
If you’re not an American you haven’t heard of this and if you’re under 40 you haven’t heard about this. But there was a time in America when there were these guys called Fuller Brush Men. Does this ring a bell to anybody? Okay, yeah. And what they would do is they would go door to door in America and sell brushes. And sell brushes. The volume of their sales calls was really extraordinary. In the 1950s, oh yeah, I’m going to have the number wrong in a little bit. In the 1950s they made, one year in the 1950s they made something like 53 million sales calls – when the number of households in the United States was 55 million.
I mean they were just ubiquitous. People spanning all over selling brushes. Now, I actually got a chance and I write a little bit about this fellow named Norman Hall who was the last Fuller Brush man in San Francisco. There is one remaining Fuller Brush sales man in San Francisco. Is an awesome dude named Norman Hall and I interviewed him for a while and he came up with this incredible phrase. He said, that being in sales, when you’re in sales, the hard part about being in sales and it’s true, every sales person knows this, the people in traditional sales know this. Those of you in non-sale selling know this as well. He says ‘What you have to deal with, is you confront’ this is his lovely phrase ‘an ocean of rejection.’
See, the sales people are nodding here right. An ocean of rejection. That’s really hard. We don’t like to be rejected. We don’t like little squirts of rejection. We don’t like a pond of rejection. He’s saying you deal with an ocean of rejection every single day. And buoyancy is the capacity to deal with that. And there’s some fascinating stuff in the social science that tells us what do we do before we go into this kind of encounter, to make sure we’re steady. What do we do during an encounter to make sure we don’t get sunk. How do we explain an encounter afterwards, to make sure that we remain buoyed. This is a totally interesting subject.
And then, finally, the third one is clarity. Clarity. There is arguably we’ve gone from information asymmetry to basically information surplus, information excess. And so, the bigger skill right now is being able to cut through the muck and provide clarity to complex situations and this is another thing that’s totally interesting. I think it’s true for software writing, is true for good software writers, it’s true for good artists as well.
We tend to think we’ve always said, well sales people, you know, the more enlightened folks will say sales people are not shysters, they’re problem solvers. And there’s some truth to that, but here’s the thing.
If I know exactly what my problem is, I know precisely what my problem is, I can probably find the solution myself. There is a premium now in a whole range of things. Not, less on problem solving and more on problem finding. Less on solving existing problems, more on identifying problems that people don’t know that they have. And problem finding is a fundamentally artistic act that’s at the heart of clarity.
So that’s ABC. Attunement, buoyancy and clarity.
I want to talk a little more detail about one of these things here and to do it I think I’m going to roll the dice here and do a little audience participation. So, here’s what I’d like to do. Can I get three volunteers please to come up here. Three volunteers. Okay, one, the eager dude in the back, that’s always dangerous, two. How about somebody from this side. Yes, the gentleman in right there. You, yeah. Okay, come on up here.
Dan Pink: Hey, I’m Dan, how are you?
And this is?
Audience member: Matthew
Dan Pink: Matthew, all right Matthew. And you are?
Audience member: Bill.
Dan Pink: Bill. All right. Hey Bill. Okay, so, here’s what. I only need you guys to participate in an experiment with me. What I am going to do is I’m going to give each of you a skin safe marker. Okay. And what I’d like you to do. Actually if you can sort of… go like this. Sort of line up like that just a little bit. Because I want you to be able to look at me. Here’s what I’d like you to do. I need to actually make sure I have my instructions right. Okay.
With your dominant hand, okay, dominant hand. With your dominant hand snap your fingers five times as quickly as you can. Good.
Now with your dominant hand draw a capital E on your forehead. I’m serious. Just draw a capital E on your forehead. All right.
Very good. Okay, very – okay, here we go. There you go.
All right. Now, this will wash off. Don’t worry. Now, face the audience please Matthew and Muness and Bill. Okay, what do we notice about these Es?
One is backwards. What do you mean? Why is that backwards? That’s facing Bill. That one, right? What do we not… Tell me what you mean by that.
Oh, it’s like, I just discovered someone I went to Hebrew school with, this is so exciting.
All righty. Justin, Matthew, when I said ‘draw the E’ he took my perspective. Muness, when I said ‘draw the E’ he also took my perspective. Bill took his own perspective. There’s nothing wrong with that. Doesn’t mean that Bill is a bad guy or anything like that. I mean, and actually Bill has more room to write than anybody – no.
No It doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy. It’s just that this is a test that social scientists have been using for about 25 years to measure this capacity of perspective taking. It’s, what’s our instant response when we’re asked to do something? Do we take our own perspective or do we take another’s perspective? This is like the white laboratory rat of perspective taking. The way that social scientists measure this. And I want to, first of all, this will wipe off. Okay? So give these guys a big hand. All right. Thanks for coming up here. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.
So, attunement is largely about perspective taking. But attunement is, plays by a peculiar set of laws. All right. So go back to that E test here for a moment. That E test is how social scientists measure attunement. These should wash off. I should have given you guys some like wet something or others. But just – where are you guys? Oh there. You might as well keep it up there.
Here we go, let me tell you about some experiments on perspective taking. One of which I think is extraordinarily – all of them are important for you. The first one I think is extraordinarily important for what you guys do.
There was a cool experiment a few years ago. Researchers divided people into two groups. They divided people into two groups. The participants into two groups. In one they induced feelings of power. Okay. There’s certain things you can do in an experimental setting to give people a feeling of power, control, that sort of thing. In another one, they induced the opposite feeling. The feeling of lack of power. Okay? Power and lack of power. Then, they had them do the E test. Did that have any effect on how people drew the E? The feeling of how much power they had? Did that have any effect on their perspective taking capacities?
In the words of a famous American, ‘You betcha.’ You can explain that to everybody else, thanks.
Clarity, ya di da di da, Attunement again. Yeah. Here we go. High power participants were three times as likely as low power participants to draw a self-oriented E.
That is, there was an inverse relationship and this has been found in many other settings. And inverse relationship between power and perspective taking. The more power somebody felt that he or she had, the less able they were to take another’s perspective. Now, this yields, I think, a really important lesson in any form of persuasion and any form of sales.
I think that this is a reason why some bosses have so much trouble. What happens is, again just go back to the literature for a second. Power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspective. And so, the really peculiar first law of attunement is this. You can increase your power by reducing it.
When you go into an encounter, you should try to think of yourself as like, ‘I am not the powerful one here.’ And I think it’s true for user experiences. When you’re dealing with users, when you’re dealing with customers. You are not the person with the power. They are the person with the power. And reducing your feelings of power can actually increase your capacity of perspective taking, which paradoxically can in the long run enhance your ability to – enhance your capacities.
There’s a saleswoman who I talked to has a lovely way to put this. She says, ‘I put myself in the small chair so they can sit in the big chair’, meaning the customers, prospects. ‘I put myself in the small chair so they can sit in the big chair’. We have this notion, and it’s actually somewhat testosterone fueled, that sales is about dominance in some way. But the evidence shows something a little bit different. It shows, actually reduce your power a little bit. Reduce how strong you think you are. That actually sharpens your perspective taking abilities.
Let’s go to the next one. Now, what this doesn’t – Let’s go to the next one. It doesn’t mean that you should be the pushover or a saint. Let me tell you about another experiment. Researchers simulated a tough negotiation. Two people on each side of a tough negotiation and the instructions they gave to people were this. ‘One third of you’, they said, ‘you have to try to imagine what the other side is feeling.’ One third, they said, ‘You have to imagine what the other side is thinking’ and one third was the control group. Got that? So we got the feelers, the thinkers and the control group. Who does the better job of perspective taking?
It turned out to be, not the feelers. It turned out to be the thinkers. The thinkers did a better job of perspective taking. So, what’s interesting about this is that perspective taking… we have this notion of empathy. And empathy is a very powerful human concept, but perspective taking isn’t like empathy. Isn’t exactly like empathy. Basically, what it is, perspective taking and empathy are not identical twins. They are like fraternal twins.
All right. They are siblings who are born on the same day. They have a lot in common. But when it comes to perspective taking, the thinking fraternal twin is a little bit stronger, a little bit brighter, a little bit taller. And so you have to use your head as much as your heart. Okay, so you lower your power and that’s like ‘Oh I’m going to be Mother Theresa, like ‘I’m going to be saintly, I’m going to be a supplicant.’ That’s not it. All right. It’s more strategic than that. Use your head as much as your heart.
Finally, the third law. Let’s find out what that is. The third law. Ooh this is a cool one. Okay, I forgot about this one, Yeah, this is awesome. All right, here we go.
I’m massively sleep deprived so I barely know what’s going to come out of my mouth next. Go to the final lesson. Now attunement is something that human beings do naturally. We do this naturally, but it’s not purely cognitive. There’s also a physical component to it, that’s totally interesting and it is this. That we are natural mimickers. We are natural mimickers. If you look at two people having a conversation, you look at it from afar. They naturally, naturally mimic each other people’s gestures, their expressions, their word choices and so on. We do it unconsciously, all right? It’s a form of affinity that human beings have. It’s sort of like, I don’t know, maybe the ten percent of people who’re as old as I am. Remember that show ‘Wild Kingdom’? Marlon Perkins’ Wild Kingdom? We’re going to have a little like AARP meeting soon too.
It would be these, sort of this incredible TV series about, they would go into the jungles and ‘watch the hippo move out of the muck and look at how she takes care of her young’ and it’s a distant view of this strange animal behavior. But human beings are animals too. And we do this kind of attunement through mimicry and you can actually be a little bit more effective if you are a little bit more conscious of it. Let me give you one more study here. It’s another simulated negotiation, but one group – two groups doing simulated, well it’s basically four groups. It’s like two sides of a negotiation, two sides of a negotiation. One group gets regular instructions. The other group gets these instructions right here.
Okay. Forgive this. I’m going to read it to you but I wanted to type this whole thing out because I think it’s pretty cool. Here’s what they said, here’s the instructions one group got when they went into the negotiation.
‘Successful negotiators recommend that you should mimic the mannerisms of your negotiation partner to get a better deal. For example when the other person rubs his/her face, you should too.’
Actually that’s poorly drafted there because that suggests that you should rub the other person’s face, but that’s not what they mean.
For example, you know what it means here. I mean, somebody picked up on that right away. I never noticed that. For example, when the other person rubs his/her face, you should too.
If he/she leans back, or leans forward in the chair, you should too.
However, they say it is very important that you mimic subtly enough that the other person does not notice what you are doing, otherwise this technique completely backfires.
Also, do not direct too much of your attention to the mimicking so you don’t lose focus on the outcome of the negotiation, thus you should find a happy medium of consistent but subtle mimicking that does not disrupt your focus.
Okay? So they are basically charged to, you should mimic the other side. But do it subtly, but just mimic. Consciously like, if they go like this, you go like this, okay?
That dude’s doing it right there. All right, so, now this seems kind of silly. Could this have any effect? You betcha. The negotiators who mimicked their opponents’ mannerisms were more likely to create a deal that benefitted both parties. And actually it wasn’t even that close, that the people who got in there and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to consciously do a little bit of mimicking.’ They got better deals for themselves and better deals for the other side, because the physical act of mimicking actually enhanced the cognitive capacity for attunement.
So, my third lesson of attunement is this. To mimic strategically. I mean, this can really go awry. Okay. This can really go awry. But we’re better at this and we do this more often than we think. And it’s like one of those things that if become a little bit more conscious of it, it sort of takes on it’s own natural capacity.
I’ll give you a strange example of this. My wife and I have three kids, but we have an almost ten year old son. And he deals, he plays sports and he deals with a lot of adults and so we were trying to teach him, since he was eight, it’s like ‘When you talk to somebody you have to look them in the eye’. Okay? Now at first he found that ‘Oh, that’s so weird, that’s so unnatural.’ And now he doesn’t even think about it. It’s what you do. So it’s sort of like that. It’s sort of what, it’s something that human beings do to connect with each other. When you’re conscious of it at first, it seems a little bit weird, but you get past that very quickly and you become much more natural at doing it. Okay?
So those are the three laws of attunement. Attunement is profoundly important in your capacity to move others.
Let me say one other thing about personal qualities. Before moving on very briefly to some tactical skills.
All right. Let’s talk about who makes the best sales people. Talk about who makes the best sales people.
This is pretty widely known, that extraverts make the best sales people. They’re sociable, they’re comfortable in social settings. So you have to, if you want to sell somebody something you’ve got to interact with them. They’re assertive, so they don’t shrink from making requests. They are willing to close. They are more likely to strike up conversations with people. Extraverts, believe me, extraverts do not flourish in every field, but in sales there is a lot of evidence that says that they have an – there’s a belief that they have an advantage. There’s a whole trove of research that says that extraverts are more likely to pursue careers in sales. And that sales managers actually select for this trait when they hire.
Okay? So this idea that extraverts make the best sales people is so obvious that it’s overlooked one teensy flaw. There’s no evidence it’s actually true. There’s an enormous amount of research on this, looking at the trait of extroversion and how it correlates with sales performance. Now, extraverts get hired as sales people, extraverts get promoted as sales people, but if you look at that one personality trait, extroversion, and compare it to sales performance. You know what the correlation… I don’t have to explain you guys correlations right? On a zero to one scale. You know what the correlation is between extroversion and sales? 0.07. It’s basically zero. Right? This is folklore that extraverts make the best sales people.
So, does this mean, and this is good news perhaps for some of us? That introverts, those quiet, soft-spoken types are better at sales? No. It’s actually much more intriguing.
Let me tell you about a study that was just completed by a really great researcher named Adam Grant at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. What he did is he had a call center that was a sales – outbound sales call center and he gathered some data on personality assessments including one on introversion and extroversion. And this is the kind of instrument that many of you have probably participated in before, where you sort of give yourself a self-assessment.
On a scale of one to seven. I’m the life of the party, you know – one. I prefer being by myself – seven. You know. Those kinds of things and basically what it does is it gives you a measure on the introversion extroversion scale. One meaning extremely introverted, seven meaning extremely extraverted.
Then he looked at the actual sales performance. He looked at the actual sales performance over a three month period and here’s one of the things that he found out. So, perhaps not surprisingly this is the average revenue per hour in the sales force. That introverts did worse than extraverts. But not by a huge amount, but extraverts out performed introverts. But they didn’t do nearly as well, they didn’t do nearly as well as another group. Ambiverts. Ambiverts? These are people who are neither extremely introverted nor extremely extraverted. These are people who aren’t ones or sevens or twos or sixes. But people who are three and a half. Four, four and a half, five. People in the middle. And there’s something quite remarkable, when you actually plot this.
Take a look at this chart here. This is a chart that plots sales revenue by levels of extroversion. Okay? One meaning extremely introverted, okay, seven meaning extremely extraverted. All right. Look at those wings. Those extreme extraverts, they’re not very good. Even though we think they’re very good, extreme extraverts are not very good at selling. Why? They never shut up. That’s one thing.
I mean it, they’re terrible listeners.
Two, they want to be liked. And a lot of times you need to tell people ‘No’. All right. Extreme introverts are not very good at it either. They’re timid, they’re shy, they can’t close. And what’s so remarkable about this research is that if you look at this, it’s a perfect kind of parabola, a perfect bell curve that peaks right at about four. That is the very best sales people are dead in the middle. They are not heavy introverts, they’re not heavy extraverts. They are ambiverts. And you look at that center piece. Those are your sales people right there. That’s the personality profile of people who are effective. Now, you know what’s cool about this? You look at that distribution. That’s the distribution of introversion and extraversion in the population. It matches it almost perfectly.
Most of us are not sevens or ones. Most of us are three, four, five. Some of us are, you know, on the edges, but most of us are in the middle. And what it suggests is that this capacity of selling is actually, at least partly, human. It’s what humans do. The best sales people aren’t introverts or extraverts, they’re ambiverts and the good news is that most of us are ambiverts. Now there are a bunch of exercises you can use to improve your ability of attunement. Let me tell you one that I think is pretty cool. You guys, a lot of you probably know about this and my view on exercises and interventions for smart, busy people is I like things that are cheap and actionable. Cheap and actionable. Don’t say, ‘And therefore go take a nine week course on attuned leadership.’ I’m not going to do that and it’s going to be crap anyway. So, here’s a better way to do it. Here’s an interesting idea from Jeff Bezos. It’s an exercise you can call ‘pull up a chair’.
Here’s what he does. When Bezos has meetings and he has a lot of meetings Amazon does, but on the important ones, alongside the chairs for the executives, marketing people, software gurus. Bezos adds another chair. At these important meetings. But this chair stays empty. This chair stays empty during the entire meeting. And that chair is there to remind everyone of the most important person in the room. Which is the customer.
That empty chair encourages everyone to say when they’re having a conversation, ‘What would the customer think of this? We’re planning – What would the customer think of this. It brings the customer into the room. You could do it, you could have… forget the customer. You could have the bad-ass user chair, right? Or you could have one chair for your bad-ass user. And what it does is, it forces people to get out of their own head and attune themself to someone else.And it’s a pretty effective technique because it’s free.
Let’s go to this. So we’ve got two main points, in clarity. There are three abilities that are necessary now. I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking a – a very brief time talking about one. But I’ll just tell you what they are. This is what to do. These are the essential kind of tactical skills that are necessary in this new world.
They are to pitch, to improvise and to serve. To pitch, to improvise and to serve and understandably I do not identify these by the first letter of each word.
Pitch. We pitch all the time. I mean, you guys, come one, you guys, I’m preaching to the saved here. We pitch all the time. We have that so much of our interactions are essentially short messages that try to convey a point with some elegance and some speed and some directness. So we’re going to talk about pitch here in a second.
Improvise. Improvise is I think one of the most important skills that any entrepreneur any person in any sort of sales, has. Its what you do when your perfectly attuned, appropriately buoyant, ultra-clear pitch – doesn’t work. Which is pretty much what happens all the time. How do you respond to that? And it turns out that you can use some of the laws of improvisational theater to navigate that.
And this is a step forward from, just as the pitchers are a step, sort of, the 20th century we had the elevator pitch. There are some new pitches that have emerged in the 21st century. Improvise. Any kind of sales training is they have a section on ‘Overcoming objections.’ Right? This is the next iteration of overcoming objections. And if I don’t want to serve. Basically you want to do something good for the world, good for your customer, good for humanity on some level.
So let’s talk about pitch very briefly here. Elevator pitch, little 20th century. Let me give you three different varieties of pitches that actually have some pretty significant, that I think could be useful in your own work.
Useful as a way to mix things up. Easy for you to do and actually have some backing in the science on their effectiveness. So let’s talk about, this one. Improvise, serve, all right. Pitch. All right. Question pitch. Question pitch. We think of pitches as affirmative, declarative statements, but there’s a lot of evidence that shows that phrasing it as a question is really powerful. Let me give you one very well known example of this.
So a generation ago, there’s an outsider named Ronald Reagan running for President of the United States in a grim economy. He was trying to make his case that we needed to replace President Carter because he was bungling the economy and so he could have made a declarative case to voters. He could have said, ‘Your economic situation has deteriorated over the last 48 months. And that would have been true. But it wouldn’t have been very persuasive. Instead, he said, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago? That is much more effective and the science explains why.
When you ask a question rather than make a statement, the people listening have to summon their own answer. This is really important. When you ask a question, even if they don’t say it directly, in their heads, they’re summoning their own answer.
And by making them work just a little bit harder, they are more likely to come up with reasons for agreeing, and even more important, they come up with their own reasons for agreeing. That make sense? Right? Asking a question makes people work harder. They do more work. It’s not passive in the way that receiving a declaration is. And when they do more, they summon reasons for doing it and they become their own reasons. We love our own reasons, right? We really do.
You know, you didn’t per- I have my own reasons for doing this. I believe it even more deeply. So this, it’s a little bit perilous because you can’t use it… If you have a very strong case, I really recommend going with the question pitch. If you have a weak case, question pitches don’t work as much.
Ask a question and what the research shows, and theres a lot of evidence of this. The interrogative form can inspire our thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to pursue a goal. So you’re getting people to summon their own reasons for agreeing with you.
So try a question pitch, next time you’re pitching. Or actually, I should probably eat my own dog food here. Do you think it’s worth trying a question pitch sometime soon?
Let’s go to this one here. This is a fun one, but it’s cool. The rhyming pitch. Okay, good, that’s the response that I wanted. I wanted a ‘ughh’ Okay. This is awesome here. Let’s talk about the rhyming pitch. Now, how many of you are Americans? Okay, this is sort of an American reference. So there was a famous trial, you know where I’m going. I don’t even have to do it. This is like one of those game shows where it’s like vrrrrrrrrrr.
All right. OJ Simpson was on trial for murdering his wife and her friend. And one of the pieces of evidence was a glove that he had to try on and when the glove that was found at the murder scene. OJ Simpson tried it on, it seemed to be too small and so in the closing statement the late Johnny Cochrane said, ‘If it doesn’t fit…’
Audience: You must acquit.
Dan Pink: Think about that for a second. Think about that for a second. All of you people who groaned, ‘A rhyming pitch’.
This took place what, 18 years ago? 18 years ago, and you all remember it. That’s pretty freaking good. I don’t think there’s anything that I said 18 years ago that anybody remembers, right?
Dan Pink: If it doesn’t fit you must acquit. And here’s the thing about rhymes. Here’s the thing about rhymes. I love this stuff. This is totally cool. There’s a huge body of research that says that when messages rhyme, not only are they more memorable, but they’re actually perceived to be more true. More credible. Right, it’s kind of weird but what it does is that rhyme… I don’t know if I have the slide here. Do I have it? Yeah. What happens is that rhymes enhance people’s processing fluency. Rhymes enhance peoples processing fluency. It makes it easier to understand something and when it’s easier to understand it seems more credible.
So I mean obviously you need to do all this stuff ethically and appropriately, but if you increase people’s processing fluency, your message is more likely, your pitch is more likely to be understood. This is why I’m a firm believer in repetition. All right, as a rhetorical device. I’m a firm believer in repetition as a rhetorical device.
Because repetition also enhances processing fluency. And so, you can look for ways to pitch using rhymes and even though you might get that occasional groan, you’re also going to get 200 people who remember it 18 freaking years later. All right.
So let me give you an interesting example of this. This is from, you guys all know this company right? The makers of gummies, those gummy candies, those gummy bears. Haribo. What they have done, and this is kind of cool. What they have done is, they have, their selling proposition is that their candy appeals not just to kids but to grown ups as well. And so they have that proposition but they have the pitch. They have it rhyme in every language in which they operate. It’s cool. So, take a look at this so in English it’s ‘Kids and grown ups love it so. The happy world of Haribo.’ All right? In French, ‘Haribo c’est beau la vie — pour les grands et les petits’ Okay. In Spanish, ‘Haribo, dulces sabores — para pequeños y mayores.’ Bulgarian – no.
So, I’m serious about this. At your next meeting or presentation, give it a try. Give this a try. Because remember pitches that rhyme….
One last kind of pitch and then I’ll wrap up. One last pitch. This is a new fangled pitch. All of you, I mean, even to conferences like this and all of you are seasoned entrepreneurs and you know that seasoned entrepreneurs have to have good stories. There was a particular, I think really brilliant form here that I think you can use and it’s something that we can call the Pixar pitch. The Pixar Pitch. It comes from Emma Coats who was a former story artists at Pixar and what she says is that every Pixar movie has the same narrative structure. And you’re nodding your head about this. It’s really remarkable. It has the same narrative structure that you can reduce to a set of sentences. Basically reduce to a paragraph.
So, once upon a time there was … Okay, a fish named Nemo and his father who was overprotective. You know. Every day and in Nemo’s case, I mean I don’t want to torture you here but you know, every day in Nemo’s case the dad – I’m trying to remember the plot of the movie. Every day the dad warned him not to swim out to the sea. All right. So once upon a time there was blank. Every day, blank. One day, we know what happened to Nemo. Because of that. Because of that. Until finally. That’s the narrative structure of every Pixar movie. I think you can build pitches in this. I think, and it’s actually remarkably easy. You can pitch just about anything in this. You can pitch any kind of product, any kind of service in this. I mean because you’re software, no matter what you’re working on is basically finding a problem to solve.
So, once upon a time there was this problem. Every day people were frustrated by this problem. One day you came along. Because of that. Because of that. Until finally….
This is a very effective form of pitching. And I want to end basically by summarizing my point here in this form. Once upon a time only some people were in sales. One day everything changed. All of us ended up in sales and sales itself changed from caveat emptor to caveat venditor. Because of that we had to demonstrate three new qualities, attunement, buoyancy and clarity. Because of that, we had to learn some new skills, to pitch, to improvise and to serve. Until finally we began to realise, selling isn’t some grim accommodation to the merciless world of commerce. It’s part of who we are and therefore something we can do by being more human.
Do you want to take, I mean, do we have time for… I mean, we’re basically out. One or two question? Okay. Mark says we can do one or two questions. What are your questions and coming to book stores near you in January.
Audience member: Alliteration. Like rhyming. Does that work….
Dan Pink: Absolutely. Alliteration – it’s a good example. Alliteration increases processing fluency, in the same way that ABC increases processing fluency. Now again, I mean, you have to, the underlying claim has to be true and valuable. That is, it can’t perfume a kind of stinky thing, but it actually… but alliteration increases processing fluency. All of you know about the rule of three, right? That you should present things in, you know, bomp, bomp, bomp. Three is better than four and better than two. Because three, for reasons I don’t understand, increases processing fluency. And alliteration is a great example of increasing processing fluency.
I mean, I wrote a book once, where I said the three forces changing the world were automation, I could have said, globalization, technology – globalization, technology and affluence. Okay? Because that’s really what I was talking about. But instead I spend six months saying ‘No, it’s not globalization, technology and affluence. It’s Asia, automation and abundance. You’re less impressed by that than I was hoping. But that’s all right.
Yes sir, over there in the backward baseball cap.
Audience member: When you showed the graph that had the revenue charted along the …
Dan Pink: Yeah.
Audience member: Extraversion level. So, because that’s the same distribution as the population and might also suggest that people can sell to other people like them. Did they –
Dan Pink: Huh. Interesting question.
Audience member: Are you familiar with anything that looks at that?
Dan Pink: You know what? I don’t know if anybody’s looked at that. That’s actually a very, very interesting question. I think that.. So my real answer is I don’t know. But my guess is that, and there’s some evidence of this. Is that people who are ambiverts are actually better attuners. That is, we have some capacity to ride up and down the scale of introversion and extraversion. Those of you who are, like, I test as a fairly significant, not massive, I’m more of an ambivert, but I test someone where on the border between introvert and ambivert. But over the years I’ve learned some of the skills. So I might be sort of inherently a two and a half, but through learning I’ve become a three and a half. So people in the middle are actually better attuners. And so it might be that they have a kind of wider repertoire that they can draw on. But it’s an interesting question.
Audience member: Yeah. Just to come full circle and clarify.
Dan Pink: Yeah.
Audience member: You talked about sales people being traditionally coin operated. Dan Pink: Yeah. Is what you have researched here, is it saying that’s the right incentive or is it saying ‘No, in fact that incentive is also out of date?’
Dan Pink: I am saying
Audience member: Commission specifically.
Dan Pink: What I’m saying is sort of what Neil has done and actually, and I’m not joking around. Neil really got me. Neil really got me onto this. I mean it really, Neil was really the impetus of me starting to think about this world of sales that I now find so fascinating. But I think that what Neil did is the right thing, which is, I’m not saying you should either eliminate them or not eliminate them. What I’m saying is that we have an orthodoxy out there. The way you compensate sales people is with commissions.
What I am saying is, ‘Challenge that orthodoxy’. In some cases it might be true. In other cases it might not be true. Here’s the thing. As I mentioned at the top, what the research tells us very clearly from the social science and motivation is this. That these contingent rewards, ‘if then’ rewards are good for algorithmic transactional things. Not so good for conceptual creative things and my view is that more of sales has moved to that second category than to that first category.
That, you know you go back to the old days of this great company out of Dayton, Ohio, called, it’s still around, called ‘NCR’ The National Cash Register company that came out with the first sales manuals. There were all these kinds of, very intense, scripts that even had stage directions of when the sales person was going to point to what particular thing. That when it was that kind of transactional sell, then ‘if then’ rewards are actually pretty effective. When it becomes more, when it becomes more, the work becomes more conceptual, I mean we have talked about consultative sales but I don’t really love that word, you know. It becomes more conceptual, more higher order, then those kinds of incentives can often work to the detriment.
You know, my ideal view, if there is an ideal view, but again, just challenge your orthodoxy. It’s a one size fits all situation. My design principle is basically you should pay people very healthy base salaries to take the issue of money off the table and then have some form of variable compensation based on, I think, company performance and other kinds of meaningful metrics that are hard to gain.
And have the balance between the variable and the fixed not too out of whack. And that’s what a lot of companies are… that’s what a lot of companies are moving to.
The other thing that’s happening is, is what’s really interesting in a xxxx software field I want to mention to you guys is I’ve covered a couple of companies. Okay, you guys all know the company Atlassian right? Atlassian does $100 million, $125 million I think, $125 million a year in sales. Call it $100 million a year in sales. That’s pretty good right? They have no sales people. What? Palantir Palantir is a $300 million a year company. $300 million a year in sales. They have no sales people. What? What’s going on?
Well, basically, what Mike Cannon-Brookes told me is well, no one’s a sales person because everyone’s a sales person. That is. We don’t have a separate function because everybody is trying to serve the customer, get information for the customer, try to serve the customer well, do good things. Iterate new products.
Palantir has no sales force. They have these people called forward deployed engineers who are out in the field reporting back to the engineers who are back in the home base. And so I think that what’s going on is that sort of sales as a discrete function is coming away. And you have to start treating the sales force not as this kind of outlier on how you compensate everybody else. But as really skilled, capable professionals, the way that engineers are.
How about one or two more and then we’ll wrap up.
One or two more. Oh, there we go. I was blinded by the light.
Audience member: Hi. I’m just curious. The question asking and the rhyming,
Dan Pink: Yeah.
Audience member: Is there any research that talks about whether or not that works better in written form or works as well in written form than in an actual conversation?
Dan Pink: It’s another really good question and again, my answer is, I don’t know. A lot of these things, if you increase processing fluency, it can work in both the written form and in the spoken form. Each of them has different advantages. The spoken form has the advantages of directness, intimacy, physical presence. The written form has the advantage that people can look at it again, they can look at it asynchronously….so I think it’s largely a wash.
There is some interesting research out there about say what makes an effective email subject line. Not a lot of research on this, but a little bit of that. And it’s basically, what it shows is I mean, you can rhyme or not. But basically the two principles are you either have to have utility or curiosity. When people, if you’re trying to reach people via email who you think are swamped, utility. That subject line has to say what is this about and why does it matter.
If you think people are less swamped, actually curiosity ends up being another value to take. So, I’m guessing and it’s a guess I’ll admit, that written or spoken to rhyme is divine.
One more. Because If I don’t get one more I have to go back and write more.
Audience member: I got one.
Dan Pink: Yes sir.
Audience member: What is a good test of extroversion?
Dan Pink: You know what? Yeah I’m sorry, what’s a good introvert extravert test? The best ones, I’m trying to think about what the name of it would be. There are two different ways to measure introversion and extraversion. One of them is the Myers-Briggs way which is where you draw your energy from. But the other way is basically, has a different theory of it which I think is more persuasive and I’m spacing out on the name of the instrument. Forgive me. If you want to email me I can send it – I can think of it. But basically this instrument measures, basically, extraverts, they live trying to avoid being bored. Introverts live trying to avoid being over stimulated. All right. And so it measures basically stimulation need and stimulation responses and I think that one offers more. And it’s – I just can’t think of the name of it.
So, on that, thanks.
Get on the BoS Conference Mailing List
Be first to see new videos, join free speaker hangouts, stay up to date on BoS Conference programmes and a regular dose of thought provoking ideas from around the web that will make you look smarter at home & at work.
Unsubscribe anytime. We will never sell your email address.