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The Persuasion Law of Involvement: It Works!

The Persuasion Law of Involvement: It Works!

Case One: A small town conducts an annual fundraiser celebration to “Save the Lake.” This was raising some money to clean the lake shores. An expert Persuader/Influencer reviewed this celebration and recommended changes. One, is how they verbally packaged* the celebration. They recommended a change: “Celebrate the Lake.” Secondly, five counties abut the lake. INVOLVE all of them. Third, instead of having one guest speaker, have all five counties speak. The city effectuated all of these changes and increased their fundraising by 220%. The key? INVOLVEMENT!

Case Two: A U.S. Navy unit was charged with contracting with a Danish firm for certain supplies. The unit had previously relied on professional negotiators but these had been reassigned. The unit hired a professional negotiator to train, coach and assess. The unit had already drafted the agenda, meeting groundrules and a potential agreement. The professional negotiator advised against these drafts. Instead, a better and more persuasive approach is to INVOLVE the Danish firm representatives to create an agenda and meeting groundrules. This involvement created the buy-in to a successful negotiated agreement.*

The Law of Involvement is listed by Celebrated Author Kurt Mortensen in his book Maximum Influence as one of the psychological Laws of Persuasion. He catalogs this Law under “involvement.” This law as well as the other eleven other Persuasion Laws are neutral. They are neither good nor bad. They work psychologically both consciously and subconsciously. They are triggers. Whether one likes them or not, they work.

Validating the Law of Involvement is the Persuasion and Trust Scale.

Persuasion and Trust Scale (anonymous).

The persuasion scale below indicates the importance of trust in the persuasion process. On the vertical is how the Persuadee feels about the Persuader: don’t like, neutral, like, trust. On the horizontal is how one presents the information:

-Do you tell?

-Do you show?

-Do you tell and show?

-Do you involve the Persuadee?

The Persuader wants to be in the top right: being trusted and involving the Persuader. The worse place for the Persuader to be is in the bottom left; that is, the Persuadee does not like the Persuader and the Persuader merely tells or lectures. So, it is clear from this scale that if one wants to be effective in persuading, one wants to be at least, liked, if not trusted and involve the Persuadee.

What is the Persuasion Law of Involvement

According to Author Mortensen it is one of the most effective ways to Persuade. The Persuader involves the Persuadee from the very beginning. It must be meaningful involvement.

Many office and commercial involvement and feedback programs do not work. The reason? Many participants do not feel they are serious. These businesses are merely going through the motions. Another reason they fail, is the folks believe their input is not valued, or not listened or further, not incorporated.

So, the involvement must be meaningful.

RegNeg Dispute Resolution Process

This is a great example of meaningful involvement of all affected stakeholders. Before this dispute resolution process of RegNeg (regulatory negotiation) was created in the 1980’s, an agency would draft a new regulation. They would then ask for input on the draft for stakeholders.

This new RegNeg process involves the stakeholders from the very beginning, before the drafting. They contact the stakeholders, present the problem-the issue to be regulated and seek ideas and options or maybe even alternatives to a new regulation. Based on all of this input, a draft regulation is created and sent out for comment.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) uses RegNeg: The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1990 and the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 authorized FMCS to use its dispute resolution expertise to bring together the regulators and those impacted by their regulations in a collaborative process prior to the issuance of a new rule. FMCS mediators use their professional skills and expertise as neutrals to convene and facilitate complex, multi-party rulemakings and to help parties produce consensus rules.”**

So, a great example of meaningful involvement!

Of course, any process can be bastardized (devalued/corrupted) by how it is managed or mismanaged.

More Examples of the Law of Involvement:

So what about these ubiquitous post shopping surveys? On the surface these seem to be created according to the Law of Involvement. So, in preparation for this blog entry, scores of shoppers were interviewed about these surveys. Here are themes:

-15 minutes is too long for a shopper’s survey.

-The incentives or rewards seem chancy and unrealistic.

-They are more irritating than helpful.

-Most consider them pro-forma aka form over substance (See blog entry)

-Most are not convinced that their input really matters or will exact changes.

So these post shopping surveys seem to flow with the Law of Involvement but may not be classified generally as “meaningful.”

What about employment performance plans(PP) and reviews (PR)?

These seems to be an ideal place for the Law of Involvement. Most would agree that some type of planning and reviewing for each employee is vital. Most would also agree that generally the present procedures are not working.

-Both employees and employers generally dread both the PP and PR for a variety of reasons; the major one, is that they are so bureaucratic.

-Linked to the above, often they are not done in a timely fashion so they become not too useful.

-Also, linked to the above, there are often surprises.

There are several ways to effectuate these documents that involve varying levels of involvement.

-Supervisor drafts both and then the meetings.

-Supervisee drafts both and then the meetings.

-Another way is that both draft the documents and then compare during a meeting.

The ideal might be the second, for the supervisee to draft documents and then for both to meet using a plus/delta approach. The plus/delta approach is first thinking about what went well during the past session resulting in a productive discussion and then the delta-what went well.

This plus/delta approach maximizes involvement and replaces such exercises as listing strengths and weaknesses.

Storytelling Exudes the Law of Involvement

Experienced litigators especially when they are presenting to a jury is a storytelling. They call upon the listeners’ senses so they can imagine that they are either there on the scene or overlooking the scene.

Storytelling is like talking to a friend. The storyteller is sending the message directly into the listener’s mindset persuading them to picture the event or hear the event. They must connect emotionally with the listeners.

Storytellers often use a hero with clear motivations and with flaws so they are relatable. They include strong details, vivid characters and an engaging plot. The storyteller wants to sway the listener or reader.

Larry Ray comment on Involvement and HOA’s (Home Ownership Associations)

It is estimated that more than 53% of Americans live in some sort of HOA. There are 351,000 HOA’s in the United States.

“Homeowners’ associations – also known as HOAs or community associations – are governing organizations over neighborhoods and communities. These can include single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and other groups of homes in planned “covenant” communities. There are very few newly constructed neighborhoods without them, as local development planning processes typically mandate an HOA when approving a new community.”***

For a period of about 10 years, I was President of several HOA’s (beach and home). One of my themes for each term was to involve as many residents and owners as possible. We expanded the number of committees and created a moral and financial responsibility spirit to devote at least a little time to the investment. With a lot of diligence, we usually wound up with 75% of the owners and residents involved.

Benefits of this Involvement: There were many. So as ideas for the HOA percolated, we were able to get “the sense of the owners” early. Thus, no surprises and a minimum of controversy. This involvement created the “spiritual buy-in” because they already had the financial buy-in. There were also less complaints since folks got to know each other and could talk out the problems.

Larry Ray comment on Involvement and Neighborhood Commissions

Also, for a period of ten years, I was either the elected Neighborhood Commissioner of the President of the Neighborhood Civic Association. I also, used the theme of involvement. I also created committees. I created “block liaisons.” Neighbors would initially ask what is the role of the liaison. I would inform them just to keep an eye on the block and let me know of any issues. Soon, instead of calling me about trash or rats, they would call the city agency themselves. In the end we wound up having more than 70 block liaisons.

Magicians Use the Law of Involvement

Magicians are masters at the Law of Involvement. How do they involve the audience?

-They smile showing confidence.

-They get the audience to like them and the audience wants to like them.

-They have an emotional connection.

-They ask questions.

-They talk to the people not props.

-They have eye contact.

-They involve the surroundings.

-They leave the audience wanting more.

“Magicians call on stage audience members. Magicians have so much fun that every will join them in this fun.” Hallmark Christmas Home, 2020, movie.

Negotiators, problem solvers, conflict managers and meeting facilitators could learn much from magicians.

Clowns also use the Law of Involvement

Clowns connect with the audience through colorful outfits, creativity, improvisation, timing and sense of humor.

Commercials Involve the Listener

A persuasive tend in commercials is to involve the listener in the decision or the choice.

-“My doctor and I chose Verenzio.”

-“My doctor and I chose Axiron.”

-Cancer CareCenter: We give all of the information and she makes the decision.

-Ameriprise: Retire on your own terms; where you want; and when you want.

-Meinke: What do you think? My options. My money. My choice. My car. I tell them what I can spend and I do my best to make it work.

-Habitat for Humanity: This program goes beyond words and the folks receiving the house contribute sweat equity.

-Kaiser Permanente Insurance: I am an active partner in my health care.


Author Kurt Mortensen in his book Maximum Influence: 12 Laws of Persuasion lists the Law of Involvement under the caption Involving to Persuade. In this law, the Persuader is helping the Persuadee to move to take action, to make this problem, their problem; and giving the Persuadee the option of participating in coming up with a solution. The Persuader wants to create ownership and willing to help from the Persuadee. One way is to ask advice:

-What is your opinion?

-How would you do this?

Remember the persuasive example of cat and dog places where the potential guardian takes the animal home for a trial period and then, of course, hooked. The pet stays.

The Law of Involvement works!

*This was based on the experience of Larry Ray.


Resources: All of these books can be ordered via the Blog Books Page.

Maximum Influence, The 12 Universal Laws of Power Persuasion, Kurt W. Mortensen.

Say What You Mean. Get What You Want, A Businessperson’s Guide to Direct Communication, Judith C. Tingley, Ph.D.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. “The first-and still the best book of its kind-to lead you to success.”

How to Negotiate Like a Child-Unleash the Little Monster Within to Get Everything You Want, Bill Adler, Jr., ISBN 0-8144-7294-X

Making Your Case-The Art of Persuading Judges, Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner,, ISBN 978-0-314-18471-9


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