The world is full of Invisible Persuaders — but my favorite place to spot them is in show business.
Here are a few amazing examples…
1. Dr. Oz gets Jimmy Kimmel to lose weight.
What do you notice here? Persuasion gurus will tell you it was Dr. Oz’s “authority” that sealed the deal…but is that really true?
Hint: If credentials and expertise were enough to convince people to lose weight, everyone would immediately get in shape after their yearly physical. Yet as we all know, persuading someone to lose weight can be damn near impossible, even when the advice comes from a trusted physician.
A closer look at the article gives you a deeper insight:
‘…he (Dr. Oz) called me and said, “I’m worried about you. You’re a young man. You have to take care of yourself.” I was like, “You know what? Dr. Oz shouldn’t care more about my health more than I do.”‘
Can you pick out the key words there? They have nothing to do with health, fitness, or medical degrees:
“I’m worried about you.”
Zig Ziglar once said, “People don’t care how much you know…until they know how much you care.” In my experience, this is truer than most people will ever realize. Well played, Dr. Oz.
2. M*A*S*H* actors ask the right questions
The classic TV show M*A*S*H* ran an astounding 11 seasons and was known for its realistic portrayal of doctors performing surgery in the most dire of circumstances.
How did the actors, who had no medical training, pull it off?
According to one real doctor who consulted with the actors behind the scenes, they did it by asking the right questions.
While most actors would ask about the technical aspects of a procedure — for example, “How would a surgeon stand while clamping this valve?” — the legendary M*A*S*H* crew focused more on emotional questions (e.g. “How would a doctor feel during this part of the surgery?”).
Figuring out the best questions to ask is one of the hallmarks of true persuasive masters.
3. Garry Marshall smuggles dirty jokes past network censors
Garry Marshall was a Hollywood legend. Back in the 1970’s, he created ahead-of-their-time sitcoms like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.
One of his best-kept secrets was the art and science of getting dirty jokes past television network censors, who back then were VERY strict about the type of humor they’d allow into an episode of primetime TV.
This snippet of an old TV Guide interview explains Marshall’s timeless strategy:
But Marshall…not only admits his tricks…he seems to revel in them. On one episode of his (then) top-rated Laverne and Shirley series, for example, he says, “We had a situation where Squiggy’s in a rush to get out of his apartment and meet some girls upstairs. He says: ‘Will you hurry up before I lose my lust?’ But in the script we put something even stronger, knowing the censors would cut it. They did; so we asked innocently, well, how about ‘lose my lust’? ‘That’s good,’ they said. Sometimes you gotta go at ‘em backward.”
On the Happy Days series, the biggest censorship fight was over the word “virgin.” That time, says Marshall, “I knew we’d have trouble, so we put the word in seven times, hoping they’d cut six and keep one. It worked. We used the same pattern again with the word ‘pregnant.’”
I love stories like these because they offer rare glimpses into how true persuasive masters operate.
Think about it: By definition, the best persuasion happens below most people’s radar — that’s why it works so well.
Naturally, Invisible Persuaders work very hard to keep it that way. Yet examples like these are the chinks in their armor, letting us glean valuable insights into the game behind the game.
You don’t need to be in show business, politics, PR, or any “persuasive industry” to use these ideas to your advantage. Everyone can benefit from being more persuasive!
You can even learn to persuade yourself more effectively. Not only will it help you quickly develop great habits — it’s also the first step in learning to persuade others (the better you understand what motivates you, the more insights you’ll have into how to motivate them).
So today let’s try something different: Instead of asking you to leave a comment below, I want to challenge you to spend a day or two thinking about ONE way you can be more persuasive in your everyday life.
Maybe you’ll stop trying to beat people over the head with your arguments, and “go at ‘em backward” like Garry Marshall did.
Or you might decide to show someone you care about them (like Dr. Oz), instead of trying to persuade so logically all the time.
Or maybe you’ll do what the M*A*S*H* actors did: Ask great questions first and use the information you get to supercharge your persuasive ability.
Don’t think too hard about it — the most important thing is to pick one and put it into action. Which one will you choose?