Motivating Mismatchers

"People will mismatch just about anything," says Question Based Selling author, Thomas Freese.

I was on an airplane sitting next to a girl about six or seven and her mother. The girl started kicking the seat in front of her. The mother kept telling her to stop kicking the chair, but it only seemed to urge her onward. So I decided to mismatch her.

I said: Don't stop kicking that man's chair.

Her little leg swung to a stop.

She knew she'd been had, but she didn't know how. She started kicking again. And I said: "Don't stop kicking that man's chair." She stopped.

Then she said: "What's your name?"

I said, "Jay." She said: "No it's not."

I said: "You're right it's not." She said: "Yes it is." I said: "No it's not." She said: "Yes it is! Your name's Jay. Say it!" I said: "Whatever you say." And she was quiet for the rest of the flight.

This girl was an extreme mismatcher, but most of us do it in more subtle ways.

Mismatching is an instinctive defense mechanism. Freese says it comes in four tart flavors:

  1. Contradictions. I said: "My name's Jay." She said: "No it's not." I had a salesperson call the other day. He said: "I'd like to talk to you about investments." I said: "I don't invest." He was floored. (It was a lie, but I didn't want to talk to a stranger on the phone about investing.) Similarly, it's been rainy and cool in Denver and I heard someone say: "It's kind of chilly." Then someone else said: "It's usually warmer."
    Mismatchers all!
  2. Unnecessary clarifications. If someone asks: What time is it? And one person answers: It's about five. And then the mismatcher replies: Actually, it's 4:57. This instinctive need to add value to the conversation only derails it.
  3. One-Upmanship. You tell a story of good or bad customer service and the mismatcher has to tell a story that's the same only better or worse than yours.
  4. "I know." Kids are masters of the "I know" response. "You need to do your homework." "I know." "People need to invest for retirement." "I know."

Freese suggests that people have a reflexive need to protect themselves against feelings of inadequacy. Mismatching is a way to deflect criticism and seek a safe refuge.

Catch Yourself
Mismatching breaks rapport and disables relationships. If you mismatch people too often, you move yourself to the top of the list of people everyone else would like to see "let go." Take some time and figure out why you need to defend your position. It's easier to swim with the flow than against it.

Mismatching the Mismatchers
To get a mismatcher on the right track, simply mismatch them first. Freese gives one example for telephone selling. Ask: "Did I catch you at a bad time?" Most people will say: "No, now's good." Or you can ask: "What would be a better time to call back?" Notice how different this is from: "Is this a good time?"

When our daughter Kelly was a teenager, I would say: "Don't think about how nice your room will look after it's clean." A few hours later it would be clean.

You can use the same strategy at work:

  • "Don't think about how easy it can be to start this project now."
  • "Don't think about how soon you can finish this report."
  • "We wouldn't want our customers to be too happy."

Get the idea? 
Learn how to use mismatching to motivate everyone to get the results you want.

How do you master the language of Motivate Everyone? You'll want to follow the guidelines above but you'll get better results if you....

  • Study the five motivation styles and irresistible language to influence and motivate each style. More information can be found in Motivate Everyone 
  • Script your next conversation with that difficult person. You may think you know what you are going to say, but actually writing it out will help you refine your language.
  • Practice - After writing it out, say it out loud. Remember you are learning another language. There is no substitute for practice.

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