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You have one sentence to get what you want. Here's what to say (the "BARS approach")

Hi everyone,

If you've been reading my posts for a while, you know how much I like persuasion and psychology.

I noticed that sometimes I look back and realize I could've done better to persuade. So, I wanted to come up with a framework to make sure I'm taking an effective eagle approach to my persuasion efforts as often as possible.

Enter, the BARS approach.

The BARS approach is all about taking a power-through approach instead of a power-over. And, it underlines the most effective, eagle-like ways to go about that power-through approach.

It stands for:

  1. B: Buy-In
  2. A: Addressing Their WIIFMs
  3. R: Rapport
  4. S: Social Capital

And, it can be used to determine what the best approach is to a persuasion situation.

#1. (B) Buy-In

One way is to get their buy-in. Get them to agree to a frame that gets their compliance.

The steps to use this method are:

  1. Determine the best frame to get them to agree to.
  2. Use frame control techniques to get them to agree to the frame.
  3. (Optional) Lock down the frame and their compliance.

So, take Nick Kolenda's family vacation example.

Him: (rejects your request for a vacation) "I'm on the fence, I'll need time to think about it."

You: (agrees and redirects to frame surfacing) "OK, what is it you need time to think about?"

Him: "The whole thing. It's just not in our budget."

You: (validates his feelings and redirects) "I know and I understand what you mean. (controls the scope of the conversation) This isn't really about the money though, it's about the family. I love it when we can all spend time as a family and make memories that we can hold onto and smile about for years to come. Don't you?"

Him: (agrees to the frame and changes his mind about the vacation)

You: (locks down the frame and his compliance) "I'm glad we agree."

#2. (A) Addressing Their WIIFMs

In the example above, the relationship is a marriage. So, getting buy-in can be a better strategy than addressing their WIIFMs because, as Lucio put it:

Lucio: "So for example, if someone has built great relationships and has lots of social capital—a big 'if' BTW, not everyone does [have] that...they'd have the social capital to be on the closer, more emotional side of the relationship—something that would get lost if they gave a WIIFT, which turns the exchange into a 'colder', more rational one."

But, if it's a brand new relationship (such as you're approaching as a stranger), you can look at the BARS framework and remember/know that the "A" might be the best choice here.

So, to use this method:

  1. Expect to have an answer if they ask, "Is there a particular reason why I should do XYZ [what you want]?"
  2. Give those reasons when you're fielding your request.
  3. (Optional) Emphasize their freedom to choose.

So, you can use the framework:

You: "If you [field your request here], then you'll [insert their incentives here]. (emphasizes their freedom to choose) But, it's completely up to you."

Or, as another example:

You: "If we [field your request here], then we can [insert their incentives here] because [insert how their incentives help them]. (emphasizes their freedom to choose) But, you are free to accept or refuse."

#3. (R) Rapport & (S) Social Capital

This is where a more direct request is more acceptable because, as stated above, you're fielding your request on the more emotional side of the relationship.

However, Nick Kolenda encourages against using the words "you should" because he says it activates "psychological reactance".

In other words, they feel like their power and freedom to do what they want to do is being taken away because they're being told what they should do. So, they feel an instinctive reaction to do the opposite of whatever it is you tell them they should do.

And, perhaps he's right that "you should" alone isn't very persuasive. But, I think that when it's mixed with other persuasion techniques, it can work very well:

You: "If you want to [insert their incentive here], then we should [field your request here] because [insert how it can help them]. Can we do that?"

On the surface, this might look similar to the more transactional one above. But, let's say, for example, we take the family vacation one again:

You: "If you want to feel better, then we should take that family vacation next weekend because I think it'll cheer you up. Is that OK with you?"

And, to avoid manipulation (as part of the example), you can underline that, yes, you've wanted a vacation for a while now. But, you also think it'd be a great time now since he's been feeling very down lately.

This is a rough outline to systemize power-through persuasion.

If you have any thoughts or feedback, feel free to share them below.

Lucio Buffalmano and Valentin have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoValentin

Nice model, Ali.

I like the mix of aligning interests / WIIFT and the social / emotional part.

At the more technical level, in the example, I feel that the objection to the husband's stance comes too early or abruptly:

Him: "The whole thing. It's just not in our budget."
You(validates his feelings and redirects) "I know and I understand what you mean. (controls the scope of the conversation) This isn't really about the money though, it's about the family. I love it when we can all spend time as a family and make memories that we can hold onto and smile about for years to come. Don't you?"

A common reaction for someone who cares and thinks about the budget would be "what do you mean it's not about the money, of course it is!"

That's why I'd personally weave my persuasive net a bit wider.

For example:

You: yeah, it's not cheap, I agree with you.
Imagine money wasn't an issue though. Would you like to do it?

Get the person to think about the positives.
Thread-expand on their own positives, and add your own.

Then pause and maybe smile.
It's also OK if they know what you're doing: people love being convinced to know what they enjoy doing.
With this frame, it can easily become a win-win persuasion (while the first one goes in the direction of frame battle).

Then you can slowly position the decision, for example, as a "fuck the money, let's have a blast instead".
If you had social capital, status/respect and if you inject passion and happiness, then the chances are good that you can get there.

Valentin and Ali Scarlett have reacted to this post.
ValentinAli Scarlett
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Thanks for the feedback, Lucio!

Yes, I also felt like something was off about it, the "controlling the scope" felt too soon.

But, I figured the easy fix (if one wanted to go technical) would be to simply do more agreeing. I hadn't thought of getting the person to think about the positives, thread-expanding on their positives, and then adding your own.

And, to be honest, perhaps that's still a bit advanced for me, but I'm getting there thanks to your feedback.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
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