Tag Archives: thought-leadership

The Persuasive Power of … Uncertainty?

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I recently listened to a fascinating, but somewhat counterintuitive, interview on the powers of persuasion via the Harvard Business Review podcast. In it, Stanford marketing researcher Zakary Tormala details findings of his recent study on influence and persuasion from experts and non-experts. What was of particular note was this eye- (and ear-) catching finding: experts who offer a degree of well-timed uncertainty when trying to persuade or influence others are often more successful in their impact than those who bloviate or come across as all-knowing.

Interesting . . .

As Tormala explains it, when someone who is considered an expert, whether that be a newspaper movie critic, a restaurant reviewer or even a CEO, displays a degree of uncertainty or humility in their speech or writings, people often listen to them more. It’s part of the surprise factor, Tormala notes, and it works, despite being counterintuitive to almost everything we think about persuasion. Continue reading

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