Getting Through To Your Clients: Logic vs. Emotion

Human actions are based on emotions.  Logic is often present, but it’s usually there to justify our emotional response.  Even for people who seem to be very logical, their reasoning is tied to emotion.  Tapping into someone’s emotions is the key to success in almost every field.  If you can do that, you’ve done the hard part.

Emotions put the issue at hand on a whole new level.  I can tell someone over and over again why they need to be performing certain exercises.  From a logical standpoint, I can explain why squatting is important, why pulling exercises needed to be programmed and not just pressing exercises.  It can even be as simple as explaining the health benefits of becoming active a few times per week.  Easy-peasy for the person dishing out the advice, but it doesn’t always hit home for the recipient.

‘Michael’ has a desk job and leads a sedentary lifestyle.  I keep telling him he needs to become active.  He is hypertensive, type II diabetic, and struggles to get off the couch (literally).  Instead of repeatedly telling him he needs to lose weight, which will assist with high blood pressure and his diabetes, I need to take another approach; an emotional one.  Michael knows he’s overweight – he doesn’t need to hear about it from another personal trainer.

Michael mentioned he has a young boy who loves football.  His son is always outside practising – kicking the ball against the wall, dribbling through obstacles etc.  I asked Michael if he’d like to be out there with his son, helping him practise his game and develop his skills.  His facial expression changed immediately.   He was no longer being lectured about the benefits of exercise from a physiological standpoint.  I could see that I’d really gotten through to him.  He was probably imagining what it would be like running around; having fun with his son.  Then he was stripped of this vision and realized that in his current physical condition, that was impossible.

Most fathers want to be a part of their son’s athletic development right? So let’s use what we have with the given scenario to produce an emotional response in order to reach the goal.  You can try to hammer something into someone’s head, but if it isn’t working, why stay with the same approach?  It’s a real world trial and error.

Other examples

A good marketing campaign will affect the viewer on an emotional level.

A good retail salesperson will tie clothing to emotion.

A successful car salesperson is successful for a reason.  They not only tell you the mileage per gallon, tell you its four wheel drive, and then mention the seats are available in leather. They explain how the car is the only one in it’s class to pass the 5-star safety inspection and physical test.  They also go on to explain the new protective side-paneling that’s been installed in the passenger seat. NOW they have your attention.

The car salesperson hasn’t done a whole lot here, but what they’ve done is significant.  They haven’t put the scenario of getting into an accident into your head, let alone the kids in the backseat on the way home from school.  That thought has been left for the customer to develop.  Simply mentioning the safety features triggers a response in the buyer.  That response hits a level concerning themselves, their family, and others they care about who may be in the car. This emotional response is what will sell the product; not the fact that the car has a sun roof (unless you’re pretty damn good at getting an emotional response from a sun roof).

Personal training, cell phone providers, health promotion, business, marketing, attorneys – no matter what field, they all have something in common: being human.  Because of this, we all respond to stimuli that has an emotional impact.

In ‘Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive’, the authors (Chip and Dan Heath), explain their theory on why things stick.  They broke the book into 6 categories:

1.  Simplicity

2.  Unexpectedness

3.  Concreteness

4.  Credibility

5.  Emotional 

6. Stories

Example from the book:

made to stickHigh School teachers have a difficult job, especially when students don’t want to learn.  Take a bunch of Grade 9 students who have a tough time understanding the usefulness of Standard Form in an equation.  They ask the teacher, “When are we ever going to use this?!?!” (A reasonable question from a 14 year old).

If the teacher were being honest and completely blunt, and if the kids did not want to pursue anything Math oriented, they could probably reply “Never!”

However, the teacher goes on to explain how people don’t lift weights so that they will be prepared if one day, someone knocks them down on the street and lays a barbell on their chest.  You lift weights so you can battle for position on the basketball court, push a lineman, pick up your grandchild, or carry groceries.  You do math exercises so that you can improve your ability to think logically and problem solve, ultimately creating a better you.  Whether that you is a police officer, lawyer, sportscaster, or retail salesperson, you will be a more successful person and better at your job, and in life.

The above analogy should have great success in the classroom.  Why? Because, it’s Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, and yes, Emotional.  It wasn’t emotional in that the students were tearing up, but it struck them on a personal level.  There mental state was altered and their understanding of something had shifted.

Wrap up

Whether you’re training clients or selling products, understand the importance of communicating with someone on an emotional level.  This is what works.  This is how you get through to someone, especially if they’re numb to a logical approach.


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