Entrepreneurs

Council Post: How To Use Psychology For Effective Leadership

By Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their websites.

Learning about human psychology is something that many leaders inadvertently do. When you have experience managing employees and marketing to customers, you gain insights into how people think and respond to communication cues. Also, many marketing techniques rest on psychological phenomena like the fear of missing out, social proof, reciprocity and more. 

If you want to quickly improve your effectiveness as a leader and marketer, it’s a good idea to learn about psychology through books, podcasts and online courses. Even as a layperson, you can gain substantial knowledge about psychology from reading/listening to books to improve how you work. The benefits are many, and we’ll go through them as we also look at practical ways you can apply psychological principles to different areas of business. 

Hopefully, this spurs you on to notice the impact of psychology in everyday business activities and to do your own research to learn how to boost your leadership abilities.

Improve your negotiation skills.

Negotiating with a partner, an investor or a supplier is inevitable for any business leader. It’s an experience where conflict is common and you’re faced with severe discomfort while trying to get what you need without giving up too much. One insightful book on this subject is Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury. It’s a psychology-based book with examples and great tips to help you improve your negotiation skills.

Let’s look at a few practical tips where you can apply psychology to negotiate better: 

• When engaging in negotiations think about shared interests rather than opposing positions. For example, if your client is asking for a discount and you can’t offer it, it may appear as if you have opposing interests. However, if your customer is under pressure to stay under budget, you could offer them free training to use your product more effectively, thereby reducing their costs and helping them make more money.

• If you want the other party to concede an important issue in your favor, give in to a smaller point earlier. This creates a favorable feeling and they are more likely to concede to what you want later 

• When you’ve reached a point of contention and silence has taken over the meeting, don’t be the first to break it. This gives each party the chance to think or compels the other party to break the silence with a more favorable concession

Negotiation is an area of study all on its own. And by understanding how people think and function, you stand to negotiate better for your business. 

Boost employee morale.

Money often isn’t enough to motivate employees. Fortunately, with a better understanding of what motivates people, you can help your employees perform better and feel happier at work. One area to work on is active listening — where you listen with complete presence of mind and stop your personal judgment from affecting how you perceive what your employees say. 

Another way to support your employees is by giving them meaningful praise. However, you want to avoid saying things like “You’re a great team member.” Commendation that praises a person’s character creates pressure on them and can make people feel like they have to live up to unrealistic expectations. Instead, be very specific and talk about the actions an employee took. This recognizes their effort in a meaningful way. 

Consider discovering more useful advice like these with the help of online articles and podcasts. There are always well-researched reports and expert content you can use to make small changes at work. 

Create effective marketing campaigns.

Psychology and marketing are old friends. We usually apply psychology to marketing by trying to understand our audiences, what they need and what their pain points are. And then we create communication that conveys how our businesses or products can help them. 

There are several more ways we use psychology in marketing:

• By running giveaways to create hope, excitement and other emotions.

• By optimizing our pricing offers with discounts and comparisons that compel users to buy.

• By using content and words that trigger emotions.

• By leveraging the fear of missing out through time-bound sales.

I recommend reading the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. There are practical tips you can use to communicate better with people and sell to them effectively. 

Manage your willpower.

Did you know that willpower is a finite resource? If you’ve spent some time planning a vacation or even creating a shopping list, you’ve used up a good portion of your store of willpower. And this is why when you have to make important decisions, you put them off or make them poorly. 

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney will give you insights that help you understand your natural limitations. You’ll learn that you should sleep better, eat a healthy snack if you’re drained in the middle of the day and limit the number of things you give your attention to.

When you understand your brain and how willpower is limited, you’ll plan your day better. And more importantly, you’ll be patient with yourself and others. 

Conclusion

These are just a few ways that psychology can help you as a leader. You already use it in marketing, whether you realize it or not. But with regular learning, by listening to audiobooks or following experts in the area of behavioral psychology, you’ll make better decisions. 

You’ll be able to leverage the best of your own and other people’s abilities. And as a result, help your business grow and give your customers the best you can.

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