How to make your boss do what you want
The more energetic and decisive your boss, the easier he or she is to manipulate. All you need to do is show how much you have in common.
Are you looking for a job or about to ask for a raise? Do you need to sell something? If your boss or your customer tends to make snap decisions they can also be easier to manipulate, according to a Norwegian study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
This is because such persons are more strongly influenced by things which could be completely irrelevant to the decision they need to make.
“This can be exploited in a number of contexts,” claims researcher Sinem Acar-Burkay at BI Norwegian Business School.
Hasty decision-makers think in black or white
Some have a greater need than others to make prompt decisions. Others are more hesitant and want to glean as much information as possible before arriving at a decision – achieving closure.
The PhD study at BI shows that people who decide fast are less neutral than their more sluggish counterparts with regard to the persons they are negotiating with, one way or another. They tend to be either very trusting of the other person or very sceptical. Along these lines, a study by the Norwegian research Fafo showed that job-seekers have a strong advantage if they share similarities to a boss.
The BI study consisted of six experiments. Participants first filled out a form which indicated if they were fast or slow decision-makers.
Confidence in others is essential in social situations. It promotes cooperation and concord and it’s on a macroeconomic scale it’s also vital to economic growth.
“At the same time, the risk of being exploited increases if you put too much trust in others,” points out the researcher.
Unbounded faith in others can get you bamboozled.
The six different experiments confirm this tendency. Quick decision-makers were inclined to be biased positively or negatively by their emotional distance to the opposite party.
The amount of confidence shown by the quick decision makers was linked to how close they felt to the other party.
They put a lot of trust in the other person if they felt they had much in common with them. They had little confidence in ones who were more alien, people with whom they shared few characteristics.
“The more traits you share with the fast decision makers, the more their faith in you mounts,” says Acar-Burkay.
Although it helps, you don’t have to be a spitting image of the boss or customer
“Coming from the same city, having the same first name, shared interests, having attended the same school or liking the same football team. These are all things that can create closeness to the other person,” explains Sinem Acar-Burkay.
A seller who Googles a potential buyer can easily come across information that can be used to create a sense of connection and affinity in the mind of the customer.
The researcher inititated six experiments involving 1,245 participants. In one they were asked to play a high-risk investment game and told that the broker was a person they didn’t know, who would remain anonymous.
The participants who liked to make quick decisions had little confidence in this “broker”.
The other experiments involved different sorts of negotiations between buyer and seller. One of them was a meeting between a customer advisor, who was selling an investment product, and a potential customer.
“If you are going to invest you need to feel strong confidence in the advisor,” points out the researcher
The customers who had a strong need to make fast decisions either trusted the advisor very much or not at all.
Unmoved by new information
“There was nothing in between. They had strongly polarised opinions about the other party,” she comments.
They were also less receptive to new information about the other person which was given to them as the experiment progressed. Even though there was reason to change their minds they retained their high or low confidence in the other person.
The researcher has also shown that negotiations are most successful when one party is cooperative and the other is focused on making a profit.
Moderate confidence among the even-minded
The negotiators who were less inclined to make quick decisions were less likely to be blinded by the apparent shared characteristics
They retained a more moderate confidence in the other party.
“They take the time they need to analyse the situation and are more thorough in their consideration of how much trust to put in the other person,” explains Sinem Acar-Burkay.
Such negotiators were also more receptive toward new information about the other party. They were more inclined to consider new information about this person and re-evaluate their position on the basis of that information.
Pressed for time, rasher decisions
A person’s inclination to make quick decisions links primarily to their personality type. But a short deadline will also press more people into this mode of behaviour. This effect is also enhanced if a person is tired.
“It’s easy to manipulate time pressure. This is something we see in sales of homes and other negotiations where offers are made contingent on short deadlines,” says the researcher.
When people are less crunched for time they exhibit a more moderate approach to confidence in the other party
“This also makes us more receptive toward changing our opinions if new information is given,” points out the researcher.
Can lead to poorer decisions
Therefore, Sinem Acar-Burkay of BI Norwegian Business School, warns that if you have a strong need to make quick decisions you should keep in mind that you are gambling to an extent with insubstantial evaluations.
“You can easily be manipulated by the other person,” says the researcher.
“Decision-makers should be on their guard when such confidence has been instilled by a sense of closeness that isn’t necessarily earned,” she says.
Her study was part of her doctoral thesis which she presented in 2014.
She thinks the results of the study can be applied to many situations involving two opposing parties, such as buyers and sellers, employees and bosses as well as job-seekers and employers.
Translated by: Glenn Ostling
- Trusting others: The polarization effect of need for closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 107(4), Oktober 2014, 719-735.