Arouse in Others an Eager Want
What do you want to accomplish? In the short term, it may be to get a date, to get into an elite school, to get a job. Longer term it might be some form of success or happiness. The next question is, how do you get there from here?
Tony Robbins says "the first step to creating any change is deciding what you do want so that you have something to move toward." Understanding what you want creates a point on which to focus. And our brains are wired to assign importance to the things we focus on. Whether we focus on the great or the trivial, we will consider the focus to be important and act accordingly.
If deciding what we want is the first step in achieving our goals, it only makes sense that the next step is to create that same desire in the people who can help us get there. Dale Carnegie's third point in How to Win Friends and Influence People is the basis for the title of this post: arouse in the other person an eager want.
Easier said than done, right? The other person has their own wants and desires, so why should they adopt yours? The key, of course, is to figure out what the other person's wants are, and to direct their focus on the ways helping you will help them achieve their own goals.
To do this we need to create anticipation. Anticipation of a reward releases dopamine in the same way that actually getting the reward does. As Dr. Carmen Simon says in Impossible to Ignore, "we don't need dopamine to like chocolate. We need dopamine to go get it." Something is always about to happen next, and if you can get others excited about it, to anticipate the reward it will bring them, it will spur them to action.
In Pre-suasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini describes the "unfinished" as magnifier of attention. It explains why soap operas are so popular - they always leave one or more story lines unresolved. Cialdini cites one study where female students were shown pictures and biographies of male students, and knew that the male students would be seeing their pictures and rating them. The women were asked, in turn, to rate which men they would prefer at a later time. Rather than choosing the men who had rated them highly, they were most attracted to those who had not yet rated them. The researchers concluded that when an important outcome is unknown, we "can hardly think of anything else."
So ask not whether the person would like to go out on a date, ask what their idea of an ideal date would be. Begin your cover letter with a mystery, and promise to resolve it in the interview. Create a sense of anticipation, to arouse in others an eager want.
There is more to say, of course, but I should probably save it for another post. In the meantime, I anticipate hearing your thoughts in the comment section.