This is book 11 for me for year 2020. I let a few weeks lapse between the last book and this one. I am getting back on the saddle and recommitting to my “book a week” pledge. It took me those few weeks to complete this book. I still can’t totally determine if it was my schedule or the book itself that slowed me down. It’s a book about persuasion but also a book about Donald Trump. The political landscape can be depressing at times. So subconsciously, I may have been slowed down by the concept of the book being centered around the President. Anyhow, I finished the book and here is my review.
The concept: Scott Adams, author of this book, is a writer, trained hypnotist, and a student of persuasion. He made a prediction that Donald Trump would win the Presidential Election in 2016 based on his knowledge of persuasion. He states that he saw Trump display persuasion skills at a weaponsgrade level. In the book he details the skills, tools, and art of persuasion. Often, he refers to Trump’s persuasion tactics on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016.
Main theme of the book: Humans are not rational; We bounce from one illusion to another believing we are seeing reality. Adams as a trained hypnotist states that hypnotists believe people are irrational 90% of the time when life really matters; our decisions are often made without appeal to the rational part of our brains. We make decisions first then elaborate rationalizations after the fact. The past you’ve experienced might be based more on confirmation bias than facts. Adams talks about a “Fake Because”. It’s a concept where the persuader gives people permission to agree with you when they already wanted to anyway.
Persuasion: Tools and techniques of changing people’s minds with or without facts and reason. People don’t use facts to make decisions. Your statements can be directionally accurate but an exaggerated claim or factual error. People will notice it and spend time talking on it. Then they remember it. Then you can alter people’s priority to focus on it. Adams states: “Master persuaders move your energy to the topics that help them, independent of facts and reason.”
Vision and visuals: Visual persuasion is more powerful than non visual persuasion. Make people imagine the scene (you don’t always need a physical picture). Adams states: “People automatically gravitate toward the future they are imagining most vividly, even if they don’t want the future they are seeing.”. When persuading, frame the alternatives as bad. Small problems presented by others as big problems needed to be reframed to remind those people of what a big problem actually is.
Techniques: Adams refers to a few techniques used by master persuaders
- High Ground Maneuver – Frame yourself as the adult in the room
- Pre-suading – Set the table and the environment
- Pacing and leading – match the audience’s emotional condition to gain trust, and later you are in position to lead them
My conclusion is that there are concepts in the book that can be used for those looking to influence others. However, the book gives a little too much credit to Trump and his perceived persuasive skills. I do believe he is great and persuading others. Some of it could be bullying tactics as well as flat-out lying. Adams was one of the more prominent people to “predict” a Trump victory in 2016. But I believe it was more support and a hope for a win than a prediction. He seemed very vested in a Trump victory for an “I told ya so” moment that he could celebrate. Adams references cognitive dissonance in the book. After reading, I’m wondering if Trump would’ve lost if he would’ve been exposed for suffering from that as well. The personal support for Trump baked into the book shouldn’t keep anyone from checking the book out. There were some simple persuasive tips that I took away from reading it that I will use….for good.