Brain Science Reveals: How to Get Yes

December 1, 2012 by


The most successful people in the world are those who can get things done with and through others. By applying new scientific breakthroughs, it’s easier than ever to get “Yes!” decisions and actions.


Before persuading others to say “Yes!” let’s take a quick look at our own decision process. Only when we understand how the brain makes decisions can we successfully influence others’ decisions

Life’s Challenges

Let’s face it, life is a challenge. From the minute our eyes pop open in the morning until they close exhausted at night we deal with an avalanche of decisions. Get out of bed now or snooze? What to wear? What for breakfast – stick to the diet or enjoy? Which route to work? Stop for gas now or on the way home? Listen to the news or some new music? Which music?

At work it’s the same. Get that report out first or answer the emails and voice mail? Take a call or let voice mail pick up? What are the boss’s priorities? What are yours? Whose do you execute first?

All day long, requests and decisions drive activities. The need to decide is incessant; the issues never stop, never let up.

Dealing with this many decisions sounds difficult. It could be. If we had to use logic reason and cognitive thinking, if we had to rationally evaluate and think through each decision, we’d be trapped, locked in place, unable to move in any direction as we analyze, evaluate, contemplate, measure, and critique options. We’d wind up dazed and immobile. We’d go nuts!

Nature’s Triggers to the Rescue

Fortunately, nature, our emotion based limbic system, has provided us with a highly effective, simple solution to enable us to easily get through each decision-making opportunity. That solution is our “internal navigation system” referred to in the book and PBS series “The Secret Life of the Brain.” This system resides in our brain’s emotional center and is activated by our personal databank of emotion based internal triggers. The take away summary from the breakthrough live brain research is this:

“We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.”

What is a trigger? What is this powerful internal navigation tool that initiates automatic, quick, easy decisions? A trigger is an emotion based gut-feeling shortcut that helps us avoid the pain of rational thinking, of laborious cognitive mental evaluation. We are pre-programmed to comply with other’s requests when the request activates the appropriate triggers.

The secret for persuasion success is to determine which triggers can be activated for each situation. The weird irony of this need for quick, easy emotion based triggers is that the more sophisticated and complex our lives get, the more information we have, the more we need and rely on simple ways to help us make decisions. The smart manager, leader, sales rep understands this need and prepares her requests accordingly.

The exciting new science of live brain imaging documents that one emotion based brain element, the amygdala, receives most outside stimulus, requests for decisions. The amygdala has two choices. It can make an immediate emotion based decision tapping into the life long database we build. Or, if no prior emotion is triggered it can send the request to the pre-frontal cortex for lengthy, rational, time consuming cognitive evaluation. Here’s a newly discovered scientific fact: Reason and logic do not persuade. They might back up an emotional decision, but they do not heavily influence the decision.

To get what you want through others you must activate their emotion based triggers.

How Do You Activate an Emotional Trigger?

One of the 7 primary emotional triggers is the Authority Trigger. When we perceive someone is an authority, we usually act on their requests. What do you do when your doctor, the “authority,” gives you a prescription? Do you search the Internet and research the chemical compounds? Do you check the FDA website to evaluate the documentation for safety and efficacy? No, you get the prescription filled. The doctor’s authority triggered you to make a quick automatic decision.

How about your accountant, the financial “authority”? When he says, “file this way,” do you examine the 16,000 page tax code for logic and reason, or do you follow his advice? Again the authority trigger motivates a quick, non-thinking automatic decision.

How do you persuade with the authority emotional trigger? Be the authority! Know your stuff. Do your homework. We give unthinking automatic compliance to those who have done the hard digging for us. Show the other person you are fully informed about your subject and that you can be trusted to give expert information. Create the right impression and the other person’s amygdala will perceive less risk, feel more assurance, and trust. You’ll get the decision you want.

Each of the triggers can be activated to produce easy, automatic decisions and actions. In the most simplistic form these triggers are:

The Friendship Trigger

Activates trust and agreement through bonding

The Authority Trigger

Activates acceptance through expertise

The Consistency Trigger

Motivates consistency with past actions

The Reciprocity Trigger

When you give, you get

The Contrast Trigger

Structures contrasts to make one approach better than another

The Reason Why Trigger

Emotional reasons to make decisions and actions

The Hope Trigger

Instills positive expectations that persuade agreement

2,500 years ago Aristotle wrote, “The best route to persuasion is with reason and logic.” It took science 2,500 years to learn he was wrong. The brain just doesn’t work that way. We finally know how the brain really works in the decision process. Your simple approach: Work with the brain rather than against it. Activate the brain’s emotional triggers and achieve the results you seek.

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  • Smartinez411

    This article clearly spells out how successful people communicate with others on an emotional level and how these emotions translate into positive results. This site is filled with life lessons that should be part everyone’s core curriculum.

  • http://twitter.com/SpkrQueen Wendy Gallo

    Hey, Russell, I listened to the blog radio spot. Great to hear your voice after all these years. Funny how things come in waves – I’m right in the middle of reading “The Yes Factor”, by Tonya Reiman. Human behavior has always been fascinating to me. I think there is a lot for people to take away from your material and use it to improve their life…Wendy Carp Gallo

  • Joe

    The difficult part is determining which triggers work with which people. That requires some research but with the web you can find out all sorts of things about people to base your selection on. Amazing how well this works if you take the time to really do it.

  • Js161w61

    As a television director, you wouldn’t believe how important the Authority trigger is. If you don’t have it your job becomes a nightmare.

  • Rhm

    A wake-up call for those who believe that logic is the source of decision making. The 7 Triggers not only debunks that idea, but offers scientific reasoning to demonstrate that “emotions” are the trigger for a “yes” decision and offers a series of definitive ways to ignite them.
    RM NYC

  • Nick F

    Good article. I like the fact that the whole thing is based on a person “knowing their stuff”, because you could have all the charisma in the world, but if you don;t know your stuff yu will lose out to a more well-informed competitor.