Quixote Consulting

Quix Tip
Influencing Using the Feeling Function

The big news: More people prefer feeling than thinking when making decisions; therefore, purely ‘rational’ arguments are going to be effective less than half the time.

Focus more on influencing decisions by appealing to people’s feeling function. Answer these questions to include the feeling function:

  • How will this benefit people and their needs?
  • How will this lead to more harmony, cooperation and collaboration?
  • Does this take into account people’s values?
  • What are the positives of this for the people involved?
  • Will this make the work environment more supportive and nurturing?
  • Will anyone be hurt?

Also important: Do your homework and have the facts to back up your appeal. But remember, the facts are your backup, not your first option. The exception to this is when you know that your audience primarily prefers the thinking function. Then you can just go with the facts.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned By Watching Commercials
If you’ve ever watched a car or a beer commercial and wondered, “what the heck do these dancers/guys in bear suits/soccer moms/young gorgeous people having a great time at the beach have to do with the actual product?” the advertisers are probably aiming at your feeling function. They’re addressing the emotional side of buying a product and try to attach positive ‘feeling’ experiences to their product.

>If you see a commercial with technical advantages listed or an actor playing a medical doctor telling you that in medical tests two out of three people preferred pink medicated tissues over blue non-medicated ones, the advertisers are appealing to your thinking function.

This is reflected in politics, especially on the national level. While the actual debates and political commentary news shows appeal to the thinking function, the overall image of a candidate is tailored to appeal to the feeling function of the average voter. Statistically, more people will be swayed by appeals to the feeling function.

You need to address both functions – thinking and feeling – but spend more time on the feeling. The most persuasive arguments are ones that appeal to both the heart and the head – they appeal to the feeling side first but also have the data to back it up.

Authority not needed!
If you’d like to influence decisions but don’t have the authority, appeal to the feeling function. Be aware that you should try to influence with integrity. Otherwise it’s manipulation. And people can sense this – false appeals to the feeling side come across as cloying, as false emotion. This is the difference between a great children’s movie and one that makes you gag.

On Target?
One easy way to tell if you’re on the mark: feeling and formula are two words that are opposed to each other – a scripted reply read off a card isn’t going to influence anyone.

Your Boss: Thinker or Feeler?
The other side is that, in management, thinking and judging are over-represented (in the statistical sense), so know that even though more people in the general population prefer feeling over thinking when making decisions, your manager is statistically more likely to prefer thinking than feeling – you may be able to make a guess already, knowing your manager.

Leading a Feeling Team
Quite simply, leaders who take some time to look at the ‘people consequences’ of their decisions and address those concerns when communicating with their team or organization are much more successful than those who don’t. Perhaps one of the biggest misses in getting employee buy-in with new organizational initiatives is this ignoring of the feeling function.

Know yourself – Know Your Audience
Whatever your preference is, that’s probably your default mode of trying to influence. However, this only works if the other party has the same function preference as you. Take the other party’s preference into account when making appeals. This will help you to figure out how to seal the deal.