The 4 Word “Hack” Confident People Use to Get Others to Agree with Them – It Makes You “Influential,” Says an Expert –

Portrait of a businesswoman gesturing during a presentation at a press conference

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Would you like to gain further arguments? Use this simple four-word “hack,” says an influence expert: Keep your explanation short.

The more bullet points you add to your argument, the less convincing it becomes, says Niro Sivanathan, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School.

“Most people make the forecasting mistake that you have to give them a lot of data to win people over,” Sivanthan tells CNBC Make It. “Often times things fail, not because of the content, but because of the execution.”

This is called the dilution effect: your strongest claims are diluted by the weaker ones. People listening will remember the average persuasiveness of each argument you make, rather than your most persuasive argument, explains Sivanthan.

For example, if you want to convince your friend that New York is the best city in the world, you might mention pizza, Broadway shows, public transportation, and Times Square. Depending on your target audience, some of these points will be more compelling than the others, and it’s better if you only use the ones that are most likely to win over your friend.

“Less is more,” says Sivanthan. “If you only have one key argument, be confident and put it on the table rather than feeling the need to list many others.”

According to Sivanthan’s research, reversing this strategy also works. His 2017 study found that after watching drug advertisements, consumers were more likely to rate a drug favorably if the companies listed a moderate side effect immediately after a serious side effect.

Using the dilution effect to make your arguments more convincing can be a “very easy solution,” says Sivanthan. It can help you get a job, shorten your presentations, and make your table debates more cordial.

It requires self-control. Once you’ve made your core argument, you need to relax and leave it alone until the other person is ready to respond. Otherwise you will unintentionally jump back into the game with further weak points.

“People have problems with silence. When there is an empty space, you feel the need to fill it with words,” says Sivanthan.

That’s a common mistake, even among people who work for a living, he adds: “You’ll see it in political campaigns and debates…” [They] should have stopped after that [point] No. 2, but they’ll go to three or four.

Research shows that silence is a powerful negotiation tool and often leads to a better outcome for both parties. Mark Cuban, a billionaire investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” often uses this strategy: After a candidate makes a pitch, he tends to initially remain silent while the other panelists discuss and discuss details.

If he decides to make an investment offer, it will only be after he has had time to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a potential deal, he said during a fireside call in June.

“The more you pay attention and the more aware you are, the better chance you have of getting what you want,” he said. “Silence is…money in the bank.”

That’s smart, says Sivanthan.

“A lot of influence requires time to think [arguments]”, he says. “Those who are really good at meetings and [connecting] Guys…they’ve thought about this a lot. This is not a coincidence.”

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