Bryan’s Blog: Stop Pushing and Start Pulling – It’s more satisfying

I remember my days running chemical plants for what was then ICI. I was a shift supervisor on the PA Plant at Rhodes. It is now a major shopping and residential apartment area. The world progresses and so have I. I hope you have too and you have become more a puller than a pusher.

When you run a continuous process chemical plant, the money is in keeping it online 24/7 and running as close to maximum production as you can. However, just like we need a holiday, the plant needs downtime. The annual shutdown is the plant’s holiday. The particular shutdown I am thinking about was 72 hours.

When the pressure was on in those days my style was much more push than pull. “Move on this quickly — please!” with a loud voice. Of course, contractors did not take kindly to such an attitude, however, I had a level of authority and so it mostly worked. After all they were getting paid a bonus to finish the job on time. What it did not do for me was win their support at other times of the year or in dealing with problems that were not theirs specifically.

Having learned a few things since, I am now much more a puller than a pusher when I am advising others as it is way more effective in the long term. I’ll explain using my version of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion:

The diagram shows how the principles of persuasion move from more of a push strategy to more of pull strategy. Here is a bit more to think about when considering your next influencing challenge:

Authority: Having authority is definitely an advantage. However, everyone is accountable to someone else and it can’t be relied on for all situations. Plenty of people resent others using their authority.

Scarcity: Creating scarcity will drive people to grab the chance at hearing your advice but can leave them with a less than positive attitude towards you as you have forced their hand.

Credibility: Other than what comes with authority, ensuring you have an air of credibility about you means people are more likely to listen, but they are not necessarily compelled.

Reciprocity: As Cialdini points out, this is a psychological phenomenon that sales people use all the time. Doing something good or nice for someone makes them feel somewhat compelled to return the favour.

Likeability: Another psychological fact. It is way easier for someone to follow your advice if they like you. The problem with internal advisors is that you have often had to use your authority to get the job done.

Desirability: A no-brainer really. If they like you and they like the picture of the future you are painting if they follow your advice, and you have the credibility that says your advice is highly likely to take them to that place in the future, then you are as desirable as… enter your own picture of the future here!