Sunday, 18 October 2015

To Sell is Human

To Sell is Human - The Surprising Truth about Persuading, Influencing and Convincing Others, by Daniel H.Pink, 2012

In this book Pink sets out how sales and the act of selling has changed in the last ten years, how it is central to everybody’s career and how we should best go about it according to research.

What do teachers need to sell?

"To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end. That is also what, say, a good algebra teacher does. At the beginning of a term, students don’t know much about the subject. But the teacher works to convince his class to part with resources—time, attention, effort—and if they do, they will be better off when the term ends than they were when it began."

What is the best way to influence people into doing something which is in their own interests? 

Pink cites a high school teacher, Ferlazzo, who says we should make a distinction between “irritation” and “agitation.” Irritation, he says, is “challenging people to do something that we want them to do.” By contrast, “agitation is challenging them to do something that they want to do.” He goes on to say that irritation might be effective in the short term but to move people fully and deeply requires something mor

Ferlazzo says. “It means trying to elicit from people what their goals are for themselves and having the flexibility to frame what we do in that context.”

Positive, negative or interrogative self-talk? Which is best? 

It turns out that Bob the Builder, with his "Can we fix it?" mentality was right! Three researchers—Ibrahim Senay and Dolores AlbarracĂ­n of the University of Illinois, along with Kenji Noguchi of the University of Southern Mississippi— in 2010 gave participants ten anagrams to solve. "They separated the participants into two groups, each of which was treated identically except for the one minute before they tackled their assignments. The researchers instructed the first group to ask themselves whether they would solve the puzzles—and the second group to tell themselves that they would solve the puzzles. On average, the self-questioning group solved nearly 50 percent more puzzles than the self-affirming group."

How can reframing a group in a positive way, influence their behaviour? 

Researchers have found that simply changing the name of a game influences people into being more or less cooperative. 
"Something similar happened back in 1975 in three fifth-grade classrooms in the Chicago Public Schools. There a trio of Northwestern University researchers randomly assigned classrooms to three groups. Over a week, students in one group were told by teachers, janitors, and others that they were extremely neat—in fact, they had one of the neatest classrooms in their school. Children in the second group were simply used to be neat—told to pick up their trash, tidy their desks, and keep the classroom clean. The third group was the control. When investigators later measured the litter in the classrooms, and compared it with litter levels before the experiment began, the results were unmistakable. The neatest group by far was the first—the one that had been labeled “neat.” Merely assigning that positive label—helping the students frame themselves in comparison with others—elevated their behavior."

Clarify others’ motives with two “irrational” questions. 

Michael Pantalon, a research scientist at the Yale School of Medicine, is a leading authority on “motivational interviewing”, which is about changing people’s behaviour by not coercing them, promising them rewards, or threatening them, but by tapping their inner drives. And the most effective tools for doing this are questions. 

So suppose a pupil is not working studying hard for a test. Using Pantalon’s approach you’d ask her two questions:

Question 1. “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning ‘not the least bit ready’ and 10 meaning ‘totally ready,’ how ready are you to study?”

After she offers her answer, move to: Question 2. “Why didn’t you pick a lower number?” 

According to Pantalon this is the question that catches everybody off guard. As your pupil explains her reasons for being a 4 rather than a 3, she begins to announce her own reasons for studying. “She moves from defending her current behaviour to articulating why, at some level, she wants to behave differently. And that, says Pantalon, allows her to clarify her personal, positive, and intrinsic motives for studying, which increases the chances she actually will.”

So what are the takeaways from this for primary school teachers?
  1. Sell the “Big Picture” of why learners are going to benefit from a unit of work right at the start.
  2. Talk to the learners about their dreams and ambitions and link these with the learning.
  3. Switch “I can” learning statements from the positive to questions, e.g. “I can use persuasive devices in my writing to persuade people.” would change to “Can I use persuasive devices in my writing to persuade people?”
  4. Label your class with the positive values that you hope to see in them, e.g. “You are such a respectful class, look how Bill respected Joe’s right to learn there.”
  5. Use Michael Pantalon’s motivational interviewing two questions when having a dialogue about an aspect that you need to support a pupil to make changes in.