The psychology of film & TV, media, & work

If you want to influence someone, dance with them

in Work Psychology by


Have you ever seen the end goal so clearly that you thought you had no choice but to drag everyone along, kicking, screaming and wailing. How did that work for you?

If you are like most people, you probably discovered that trying to force an issue only resulting in pushing people away. According to reactance theory, when our freedom is compromised, our motivation plummets and we try to reassert our autonomy.

But here’s a clever way to influence. Get ready to slap your head with me in disbelief. Research suggests that people are more prone to conform when they syncronise their movement with others.

Think of the uniform marching of a squad, a group of dancers or the coordinated movement of athletes. Think of the years at school where you and your fellow students walked from class to class like robots and greeted the teacher in unison before each class.

When we coordinate with other individuals we adopt a ‘copying others’ mindset. When in this frame of mind, we are more inclusive and agreeable. This means we are also more susceptible to complying with the ideas or demands of others. Are you listening? Right?

What’s important is that people feel like they are choosing, not being forced to get involved. So, you can’t simply coerce or pressure another person and expect to get results.

You might, however, invite a colleague to discuss an idea on a walk around the block. Perhaps this coordinated journey may lead to them agreeing with your point of view?

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