The ability to influence each other, says Professor Zoë Chance, is ingrained in us from the moment of birth. We are born without teeth or claws, unable to defend ourselves or even to chew our own food. So how did each of us survive? “You were so good at persuading people to give you what you wanted,” she says in a talk at Yale SOM, “that you had adults taking care of you, feeding you, holding you, night and day for years.” The ability to persuade is something inherently human, honed over millions of years of evolution.
In this excerpt from a talk titled “Keys to Influence and Persuasion,” Chance explains the “key forces” that allow us to evade others’ natural resistance to persuasion—for example, finding the “moment of truth” when someone is most open to being persuaded. Using these techniques comes naturally to us. But being aware of them means that when we ask for something, we’re more likely to get a yes in response.