People want to feel that they’re a part of something.
They want to feel a thing is theirs, that they contributed, and that they have some ownership of it.
These may seem like platitudes but research is showing just how important these feelings are to leadership, influence and motivation.
Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely discusses this in his book: The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home.
Years ago, Pillsbury noticed that their cake mixes had poor sales. They theorized the buyers didn’t feel the cakes were “theirs.” By removing a few of the ingredients and requiring users to do more, sales increased:
One theory was that the cake mixes simplified the process to such an extent that the women did not feel as though the cakes they made were “theirs.” At the time, a psychologist and marketing expert by the name of Ernest Dichter speculated that leaving out some of the ingredients and allowing women to add them to the mix might resolve the issue. This idea became known as the “egg theory.” Sure enough, once Pillsbury left out the dried eggs and required women to add fresh ones, along with milk and oil, to the mix, sales took off.
Basically, these two scholars, they started studying Hollywood pitching. They did a very exhaustive study. Basically what they found, which you know, I’m sure, from your screenwriting days, is that pitching isn’t about convincing somebody, pitching is essentially about inviting them in.
That’s essentially their view. That changed my view on it a little bit. I think pitching is like, “Are you with me?” and actually that’s not the way to do it. The way to do it is, “Here’s the pitch. What’s your contribution?” When the other side contributes, it actually builds something, and it’s usually a little bit better, but also the other side is more invested in it and so forth. The idea of pitching is to begin an engagement with somebody, not to necessarily convince them right there. Then I outlined the six successors to the elevator pitch which are all I think really interesting, backed by some of the social science.
What’s really interesting is, it doesn’t take much.
Just like adding eggs was enough to give a feeling of ownership over a cake, relatively minor adjustments like reordering words increased feelings of ownership and warmth toward ideas and solutions:
…we concluded that once we feel that we have created something, we feel an increased sense of ownership—and we begin to overvalue the usefulness and the importance of “our” ideas… Would the simple act of reordering the words to form the solution be enough to make people think the idea was theirs and consequently overvalue it? …even reordering the words was sufficient for our participants to feel ownership and like the ideas better than the ones given to them.
So how can you leverage this?
Lectures, rants, pitches and direct orders need to become conversations if you want the support of others.
Incorporating even their smallest contribution can help people feel a part of something and join your cause.
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