Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Reversed Psychology of Presenting

So now you know you have an ego, but ego-istic as you are, did you stop at the notion that everybody else has an ego too?

Thought so.

You see, keeping your own ego in check is a great step towards self-development, self-fulfilment, and overall goodness. But that doesn't mean you should refrain from using the ego of others for your goals (in moderation of course...). While you are now well on your way to circumvent your own egoistic pitfalls, others will more than readily still fall in them. Reverse the process and imagine the needy ego of your audience: "I need to know more, I need to be better, I need to succeed, I need to get the advantage."

What do you have that you can feed to their egos?

The ego is a very primal construct and basically cares about three things: attaining security (am I safe?), avoiding loss (what if I can't live without?) and constructing a stable identity (am I still me?). These three deep emotions provide ample opportunity to be exploited by you. What can you tell your audience to make them feel safe? Can you point out the things they are currently lacking and you can provide? Are you able to appeal to a sense of identity they associate themselves with? Need some examples of using these techniques of appealing to the ego? Look no further than your Inbox.

Do yourself a favour and only this once, open a few of those spam mails you receive by the bucket every day. They are all about insecurity, loss and identity. "Don't feel man enough? Try [drug]!", is the perfect example of a blow below the belt for any man's security and identity. "You will miss out on this amazing offer if you don't react today!" and "Get the most for your money here!" appeal to our fear of loss.

Of course spammers cross the line and often have a malicious intent, but that doesn't mean appealing to someone else's ego is altogether evil. Think of examples like these:

"Are you scared by the financial crisis? Come to us and we will tell you what you need to know to come out unscathed!"
"Feeling like your employees are taking advantage of you? Follow this training and you'll be the manager who's in control again."
"Ever wondered how you can get more out of your online marketing?"
"Why they are winning and you are falling behind."

If they concern you, it's hard to resist appeals like this. It makes people sit up and pay attention. The ego which is so concerned with keeping itself safe and secure can't ignore these threats to itself. It needs to know what it can do to feel at ease again - and you will be the one who is going to do just that. Coax the ego out of its comfort zone and when it is exposed and vulnerable, you will give it what it so desperately wants: security, gain and identity. If you play this out well, you will have anybody eating out of your hand.

Just don't let your own ego take the upper hand, because then the dividing line between harmless and harmful manipulation will start to blur.