Why do we find someone or something fascinating? Why are we attracted to some products and brands and not to others? Why do some messages captivate us while others barely register? Why do some leaders march at the front and influence our thinking and behaviors while others leave us cold and uninspired?
These are the questions Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, has set out to answer in her research on fascination.
Hogshead defines fascination as "a state of intense emotional focus." So when you fascinate someone, they're not distracted—they're thinking about you in the moment and are totally captivated by your message. Fascination is a powerful drive that triggers a myriad of behaviors, including influencing purchasing decisions.
So how can you increase your chances to fascinate so you can be more successful?
Understand What Makes People Fascinating
All of us have an innate ability to fascinate. According to Hogshead's research, there are seven triggers or behavioral motivators that we all use. Each trigger creates a different type of response in others:
- Power. Taking command of your space. Think Google.
- Passion. Attracting with emotion. Think iPad.
- Mystique. Arousing curiosity. Think Coca-Cola's secret recipe.
- Prestige. Inspiring respect. Think the Tiffany blue box.
- Alarm. Creating urgency. Think FedEx or infomercials.
- Rebellion. Changing the game, and triggering creativity. Think Groupon (reinventing how coupons work).
- Trust. Building loyalty through consistency and reliability. Think Brooks Brothers.
The key thing to understand is that each one of us has a dominant and auxiliary trigger that gives us our unique ability to fascinate others. Steve Jobs' triggers, for example, were power and rebellion. Power gives people the strength to get things done and to have a big vision; rebellion brings the element of surprise and reinvention, which changes the status quo. Contrast Jobs with Oprah, whose triggers are passion and trust: Passion is expressive, emotive, likeable, connecting. Trust, in Oprah's brand, is being consistently nurturing.
Determine Your Fascination Quotient
You can take Hogshead's "Fascination Advantage Assessment" here. This assessment will help you identify your natural fascination triggers and show you how you can use your primary and secondary triggers to be more successful. Knowing your triggers will reveal your unique strengths so you can use these intentionally and express them more often.
The mother of all fascination triggers is trust, and the quickest way to establish trust is to be authentic. Use authenticity as the foundation of your approach to others, no matter what triggers you use to influence them. Fascination is not a "point and click" process, and it's not about manipulating people. It's about using your natural talents to captivate others so you can gain and maintain their attention in a crowded space.
Fascination also does not involve imitating anyone. "Imitation," Emerson once said long ago, "is suicide." Imitation means losing your unique personality, your identity and originality. Imitation is a fascination killer.
We can all agree that the late Robin Williams was a fascinating individual with a strong personal brand. There are many elements that made him likeable and captivating. The first things that probably come to mind for most of us are his humor, creativity, spontaneity, intelligence, energy, wit and sheer exuberance.
But there's one thing that stands out above all else, and that is how he treated anyone who was in his presence. In a recent blog post, "Robin Williams in First Class," Kenneth M. Chanko retells the experiences of a flight attendant who was serving Williams in first class many years ago. "Whether he was dealing with the press or anyone else," Chanko writes, "Robin Williams treated people with the utmost respect while also treating them to surreal glimpses of his genius via his manic riffs on everyone and everything."
Being respectful of others makes us irresistibly attractive. It's a universal attraction principle. It pays huge dividends in all walks of life.
Don't Be Needy
Just as it's important to know what the fascination magnets are, it's also critical to understand the barriers to fascination. Chief among them is being needy. So do your best to get noticed, craft the most compelling message, hone your skills and offer utmost value, but don't continue banging on the wrong doors.
Fascination is about offering your talents to those who appreciate them and want to get more of what you have to offer—it's not about wasting your time on dead ends. So don't be needy, and don't try to impress. Both are fascination repellents.
Being generous is one of the most attractive qualities to have. It means you go the extra mile to give way, way more than what's expected. Because most people prefer to take the short cut, you'll stand out when you give more than what you've contracted for. The saying is true: It's never crowded along the extra mile. Over-respond to every opportunity that comes your way.
Someone once said, "There's no shred of evidence that life is serious." Showing up tightfisted, tense and on edge is the antithesis of fascination. Adopting a more lighthearted approach to your dealings with all stakeholders is likely to make you more cooperative and trusting. It's about being good-natured in the face of the many things that can make us lose our grace. There's something very attractive about a person who is affable and genial in a brusque world. Bonhomie stands out every time.
Strive to Enchant
- Push Technology (which brings your story to people). This includes presentations, email and Twitter. Make your efforts "sensorial" by using one part text to two parts images, sound and video. Make it brief, and tell a story. Make sure it's useful even if they're not buying.
- Pull Technology (which brings people to your story). This includes websites, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Make it convenient, fast and free (no sign-ups and other annoyances). Be sure it has no spin and no flash. Offer content that's inspirational, entertaining, enlightening and educational.
How can you put some of these seven ideas to work for your business? What changes do you need to make in your approach to make others want to gravitate toward you and buy your product or service, or to want to listen to your message? Think hard about your answers, and create your action plan today.
Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., and the author of two books: Presenting with Credibility: Practical Tools and Techniques for Effective Presentations and The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow.
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