Tag Archive for: attorneys

Win or Lose, You Can Do Better!

A few months ago I had the pleasure of
addressing nearly three dozen lawyers. I know some of you are thinking “pleasure”
and “lawyers” don’t always go hand in hand. However, in this case it really was
a pleasure because the topic was a one-hour overview of influence for legal
professionals. It was my first time talking with attorneys and it was much
different, and a bit more challenging, than working with supervisors, managers
and salespeople.
A bit of irony is one description used to
define the principles of influence. They’re often referred to as proven rules
or laws governing human behavior. Personally I shy away from calling them laws (even
though I was talking to lawyers) because when I think about laws, such as the
law of gravity, they describe phenomenon that will happen each and every time
unless an outside force intercedes in some way.
The principles of influence will not get a yes
response each and every time, even in the sterile environment of a campus
laboratory. It becomes more problematic in the real world because of the myriad
of outside forces. With that in mind, when I talk with audiences I generally
tell them the principles are proven rules for human behavior. I emphasize if
they’re used ethically and correctly they will lead to yes responses more
often. I’m confident of that because more than six decades of research from
social psychologists and behavioral economists proves this. We could call the
principles “brain rules” because they describe how people typically think and behave
in different situations.
As noted above, the attorney crowd was challenging.
They asked very pointed questions about using liking with juries, admitting
weakness in a case, looking for common ground with opposing attorneys and even how
the principles work when raising kids.
At one point during my talk I described the principle of scarcity – we value things
more when they’re rare or diminishing. Then I segued into a concept known as “loss
aversion.” Loss aversion labels the truth that people hate to lose and when we
think we’re going to lose we take steps to avoid that. If you’re a football fan
think about the “prevent defense.” When a team gets up on the opposing team and
time is winding down quite often the team in the lead changes what they’re
doing because the thought isn’t about winning as much as it is about not
losing. All too often the team playing from behind throws caution to the wind,
gambles and ends up winning. It’s quite frustrating for the fans of the team
that used the prevent defense and that’s why so many joke about how it prevents
your team from winning!
Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky studied loss
aversion and came to the conclusion that most people feel the pain of loss
anywhere from 2.0-2.5 times more than the joy of gaining the very same thing.
This is probably why the sting of a loss in a big game stays with us so much
longer than the joy we feel when our team wins the big game.
After my presentation a few attorneys came up
to talk with me and one of them shared something profound. He said he rarely
thinks back on cases he won but he dwells on the ones he loses. Could it be
that’s why we learn so much in defeat as opposed to victory?
I often tell salespeople whether you win the
sale or lose it you should learn from the experience. If you win, what did you
do that you can replicate into future success? When you lose, analyze what you
could have done better then look for ways to change going forward.
Victory is usually celebrated with little
reflection and losses are replayed over and over in our minds. It’s just how
we’re wired. But, the best athletes work on doing things right and commit as
much of their game to “muscle memory” as possible. They become so conditioned through
practice that they barely have to think in order to execute properly during
their chosen sport.
We can learn from the elite athletes. Next
time you win – whether in business, sports, or life in general – discipline
yourself to take time to figure out why and look for ways to build on that. The
more you repeat winning behaviors the more like you are to repeat as a winner.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.