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Book Review: Empathy In Business

Persuasive influence will be successful only to the extent to which the associations it triggers are favourable to change

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Imagine you are discussing deadlines with a client or a vendor, when you throw a very large number into the air before you deliver the smaller number, which you want the listener to agree with. For example, “I won’t ask you to wait three years for the new software update,” before you tell them that you need three weeks to complete the project. The chances of the listener agreeing to accept the three-week time increases significantly. That is because the listener subconsciously concedes to the negative larger number and is aligned with you and hence, is more likely to agree to the smaller number you suggest.

Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini is an instant classic. Pre-suasion refers to the process of getting the recipient of a message to be ready to receive and agree with the message, even before they have encountered the message. A good communicator “pre-suades” by focusing recipients initially to the concepts that are aligned, associatively, with the information yet to be delivered.

To achieve this, listeners’ attention should be channeled on any principles of influence – reciprocity, liking, authority, social proof, scarcity, consistency and unity.

“Unity” can be highlighted through “being together” or “acting together”. Being together is when we present genetic commonality of being from the same religion, race, place, country, etc. Acting together is when we cue, how behaviourally we are common in terms of operating in the same market, addressing the same customer segment, facing the same challenges, etc.

The key to any relationship building exercise is to not consciously try and sell a service. Instead, build a relationship of empathy and understanding with the client while subtly touching upon the service you want to offer. That will perhaps, clinch the deal.

Alternatively if you proceed with a sales pitch and if cost (and not benefit) is the key discussion area, then it is likely that you will lose the deal.

So why do you need “Pre-Suasion”? “Pre-Suasion” is a tool which you can use in all sales situations. No matter what interactions you are having, consciously or subconsciously you are always selling. And the better sales person you are, the better and more successful you will be in your business and personal life.

If you are a mother you are selling your morning breakfast to kids by making it more presentable, more likeable. If you are an HR hiring for your company, you are selling how cool your organisation is and how good the role is to hire the prospective talent.

While Pre-Suasion can unknowingly move mountains for us, we must understand that Pre-suasive influence will be successful only to the extent to which the associations it triggers are favourable to change.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Ajit Panigrahi

The author is co-founder & CEO, JustLikeNew.In

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