Tag Archive for: pragmatic

Keys to Persuading Pragmatic Personalities

Here it is, your big break – you have a meeting with the Donald! That’s right, Donald Trump has agreed to give you 15 minutes to pitch your idea. How will you go about persuading him to get a yes answer?

This week we’ll take a look at how best to persuade someone who is a pragmatic or driver personality. In my mind, Donald Trump is an off-the-charts pragmatic because he’s someone who is more task-oriented as opposed to relationship-focused and he likes to control situations and others. The following describes this personality type:

Pragmatics generally want quick results; are more focused on getting things done than chatting with people; prefer taking control of situations; sometimes act before thoroughly thinking things through; are assertive; not afraid to take risks; appreciate getting to the point quickly.

Because pragmatics are not relationship-oriented it will come as no surprise to learn in my online survey they chose answers that engaged reciprocity and liking far less than did the expressive and amiable personality types, two personalities that are people-focused much more than task-oriented. Some persuasion advice when dealing with a pragmatic.

Don’t be rude but don’t spin your wheels using the liking principle because they don’t care much about being your friend. Do you think Donald cares more about being your friend or possibly closing the deal? I bet he wants to close the deal.

Don’t try to pull the reciprocity lever by doing favors with an expectation that it will be a difference maker because it probably won’t help too much. Donald will gladly accept what you offer but it’s doubtful it will be top of mind for him to think about how to repay the favor.

Uncertainty can be bothersome for pragmatics so when they’re not sure what to do they tend to respond to a couple of principles more than others.

Pragmatics generally don’t care what everyone else is doing but it can be persuasive to tell them what others just like themare doing. While they don’t respond to the principle of consensus as much as other personalities it was nonetheless one of their top choices. Donald Trump doesn’t care what the run of the mill businessperson is doing but he cares what respected peers are doing so do some research and incorporate your findings into your presentation.

Sharing hard data or using the advice of perceived experts is the most effective route with this group.  In fact, in more than half the cases where authority was a choice, pragmatics went with it! Show Donald what the numbers are or share what respected experts have to say and he’ll give that more weight than anything else.

Motivating pragmatics to action can be easy if you know which principles to look for. Generally, you want to use consistency or scarcity.

When it came to using consistency – what someone has said or done in the past – pragmatics were more motivated by this principle than any other personality style. In fact, it was their second most often chosen reason when it came to being persuaded. When Donald Trump says something do you think he believes he’s right? Of course he does, so tie your request to his previous words, actions or beliefs and your odds of success go up dramatically. I can back up that claim because I saw this to be the case on an episode of The Apprentice.

While scarcity wasn’t one of the top three choices for pragmatics, using this principle was more effective with pragmatics than any other personality type. Think about Donald Trump – he hates to lose! Talk about what pragmatics might lose by not going along with what you’re proposing and you’ll get more compliance than you would by talking about what they might gain or save.

When it comes to the pragmatics you know, they may not be as extreme as Donald Trump, but nonetheless there are certain principles that will be more effective than others. In order of effectiveness they are:

  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Consensus
  • Scarcity
  • Reciprocity
  • Liking

Next week we’ll take a look at the expressive personality, sometimes known as the influencer.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Saddest Kodak Moment

Many of you reading this might remember the Kodak commercials in the 1970s that introduced the world to the “Kodak moment.” This phrase referred to those times – happy, heartwarming, fun – you wanted to preserve forever on film. That ad campaign helped Eastman Kodak, founded in 1889, reign supreme in the photographic film industry with a 90% share by 1976! That dominance began to slide in late ‘90s with the advent of digital photos and culminated in the company declaring bankruptcy in January 2012.

When I read an article recently, Barriers to Change: The Real Reason Behind the Kodak Downfall, it brought me back to a conversation I had with Dennis Gilbert, owner of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. During our talk Dennis told me he found the fall of Kodak fascinating and wanted my take on it from an influence and persuasion perspective.
According to John Kotter, author of the article noted above, “The Kodak problem, on the surface, is that it did not move into the digital world well enough and fast enough. Recent articles dig a bit more and find that there were people who saw the problem coming — people buried in the organization — but the firm did not act when it should have, which is decades ago.”
What really caught my eye was, “there were people who saw the problem coming — people buried in the organization — but the firm did not act when it should have.” Some people in Kodak knew what to do but couldn’t persuade the ultimate decision makers to make the necessary changes.


In hindsight, do you think Kodak would have made the necessary changes two or three decades ago if they had a mulligan? Of course they would have. I won’t claim to have any clue on what Kodak should have done, when they should have done it, or how they should have implemented those changes. What I do know is the lack of persuasion skills by those who had a pulse on the market has cost this once great company dearly. And let’s not forget, Kodak’s fall isn’t just about shareholder value, it’s about the people who’ve poured their heart and soul into the company who might be facing major life changes as the company restructures. Jobs may be lost, benefits will probably be restricted and pensions could be impacted to name just a few things that could create hardship for tens of thousands of current and former employees.

Is persuasion an important skill? You bet it is! There’s no substitute for expertise in your chosen field but expertise isn’t enough. Knowing the most about stocks does you little good of you can’t persuade people when to buy and sell. Likewise, a manager knowing her company and the industry inside and out isn’t enough if she can’t persuade her team to take the necessary actions that will lead to success.

I’m sure the mid-level managers at Kodak knew the business, competition and could clearly see the trends. However, despite their skills they were unable to convince people up the corporate ladder to start making the necessary changes. I don’t know what they did or did not do but knowing they were probably dealing with a lot of pragmatic and analytical personality types I’d have suggested some variation of the following: Tapping into scarcity – here’s what we stand to lose if we don’t act now – might have helped. Maybe tying the needed changes back to Kodak’s mission statementconsistency – might have done the trick. Perhaps sharing more stats – authority – with attention grabbing methods would have arrested senior management’s attention.
Convincing someone to change is never easy but we cannot put the blame on others anymore than a teacher can blame students for not learning. I’m a sales trainer and when someone asks me for sales advice the number one thing I tell them is this: no matter what the outcome, take full responsibility for it. If you made the sale, figure out what you did right then keep doing it and refining it. Likewise, if you didn’t make the sale ask yourself why then set out to learn from your mistakes and figure out ways to overcome them in the future.
The further removed management is from the customer the more difficult it is to make good decisions unless they have excellent communication with the field people. Sun Tzu said as much in his classic, The Art of War, when he warned readers to beware of high-level dumb saying, “Those who are not at the scene of action and do not know what is going on should not give orders.”
Sun Tzu also told the world, “Those who know where and when the battle will be fought can marshal all of their resources to the right place.” Some Kodak employees knew when and where the battle was to be fought but senior managers acted too late. Now it remains to be seen how many Kodak moments are left.
Here’s my advice for you – continue to become an expert in your field because that gives you the credibility you need to have a platform that people will listen too. But don’t stop there! Make sure you learn the science of influence so your great ideas turn into projects or your great presentations turn into sales. That will ensure your professional success.If you’re viewing this by email and want to leave a comment click here.


Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

A Persuasion Trump Card

Are you a fan of Donald Trump’s show “The Apprentice?” When it first aired I watched it religiously because I learned some business tips but I don’t watch it so much anymore because there’s usually too much drama and too few tips. That said, I was watching an episode recently where Donald Trump’s new cologne, “Success by Trump,” was introduced. Each celebrity team’s challenge was to design an in-store display and come up with a slogan for the new fragrance which will be carried by Macy’s. The teams were judged by Trump and Macy’s executives on the creativity of their slogan, their brand messaging and the in-store display presentation they developed.

Aubrey O’Day, project manager for one team, suggested the tagline, “Trust your instinct.” Almost immediately Arsenio Hall found a Donald Trump quote online where The Donald asked, “Do you trust your instinct?”

At that very moment I knew Aubrey’s team would win the task. How did I know? I knew because I understand the principle of consistencyand it is very apparent Donald Trump is a pragmatic when it comes to personality type. Allow me to explain how these two facts led to my immediate conclusion.

Let’s start with one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence, the principle of consistency, sometimes known as “commitment and consistency.” This principle tells us people feel internal psychological pressure to remain consistent in word and deed. Most people feel bad when they say they’ll do something but then back out, even if their reason for backing out is completely legitimate. That’s why people go to great lengths to keep their word.

In addition to that aspect of consistency we need to remember people are more easily persuaded to do something when it aligns with what they’ve already said or done. In other words, tying your product or idea to what someone has already publicly stated will make the persuasion process much easier. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Several years ago I did a survey with my blog readers on personality types and influence approaches. Using a basic four quadrant DISC model (pragmatic, expressive, amiable, analytic) I had people self-identify then take a short survey so I could find out if there were influence approaches that worked best with certain personalities. My data clearly showed there were, and when it came down to it, for the pragmatic consistency was one of the three principles that worked best.

Pragmatics are described using these terms: action-orientated, decisive, problem solver, direct, assertive, demanding, risk taker, forceful, competitive, independent, determined, thrive on challenges, strong intrinsic motivation to succeed, practical, focused, results oriented, direct and straight to the point. Doesn’t that sound like Donald Trump to you?

Let me ask you a couple of questions about persuading someone like Donald Trump.

  1. Do you think he will be more persuaded by someone trying to buddy up to him using the liking principleor will he respond more to potential lost opportunities using scarcity? I vote scarcity every time.
  2. Do you think he will be more swayed by what everyone else is doing using consensusor more by the presentation of hard data using the authority principle? I’ll go with authority in this case.

As soon as Aubrey O’Day came up with the tagline and Arsenio Hall tied it to Trump’s own words it was a sure bet The Donald would love it. It was also a sure bet if he loved it the Macy’s executives would not try to change his mind. When both teams went to the board room I was proven correct.

What does this mean for you? In your attempt to persuade others you’ll certainly be more successful when you understand the psychology of persuasion and how to ethically leverage it. However, using a shotgun approach with the principles is akin to mass marketing which will never be as effective as target marketing that considers the specifics of the audience. In the same way, knowing the type of person you’re trying to persuade allows you to look for legitimate opportunities to use principles that will be most effective for that personality type.

Sure, Donald Trump likes to be liked and is somewhat interested in what others are doing, but if you rely on those to persuade him you’ll never be as effective as you could be by tapping into principles as I outlined in the questions above.

Here’s my advice: next time you go into an influence situation give thought to the personality type you’ll be dealing with then consider the best principles of influence to use. If you do so you’ll have a persuasion Trump card. To find out more about how to do this click on each of the personality types below.


Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.