Contributing to Others’ Decisions

Source: Fast Company, Oct 2016


Who is the brain more likely to trust: someone who has a proven track record but doesn’t communicate confidently or someone with a weak history but who confidently shares their ideas? The answer may not surprise you. Carnegie Mellon researchers recently found that people are far more likely to trust someone who projects confidence, even if they don’t have much of a track record to show for themselves.

In order to make decisions efficiently, our brains look for signs of certainty and tend to assign our trust to those who project confidence. In effect, confidence becomes a shorthand for trustworthiness.

So the more confident you are (or even just seem) when you’re presenting an idea, the more likely others are to assume it’s a reliable course of action; deciding to following it will feel less risky.


Someone’s tone of voice shapes our perception of what they’re saying in other ways, too. In fact, my research analyzing the science behind the process of selling has found that one of the key predictors in how compelling potential customers find a sales presentation is the salesperson’s voice inflections.

One of the reasons why tone of voice matters so much is because it influences how we feel, not just what we think—something researchers call “mood contagion.” For instance, behavioral scientists Roland Neumann and Fritz Strack found that when listening to a speech, subjects felt more optimistic if the presenter spoke in an upbeat tone compared to a somber one.


There’s now a wealth of scientific data suggesting that people make decisions contextually, …  influencing others’ decisions means framing their choices properly. And one of the best ways to do that is simply to prepare them to actually make a choice.

The way something is presented shapes how it will be perceived and whether or not it will be acted on.


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