Who We Listen To, Who We Don't, and Why
Why are some people in society listened to, and others ignored—regardless of the truth or wisdom of their message? In his groundbreaking book Messengers, behavioral science expert steve Martin shows us why seemingly irrelevant details about a person—such as their financial status, or physical appearance—influence whether or not we listen to them. In today’s uncertain world, understanding who we trust and why is imperative for business, politics, and society at large.
“Whenever we listen to a presentation, scroll through social media, or glance at the television, the question—Whom should we believe?—confronts us. Martin and Marks marshal an array of evidence to deliver a clear, compelling, and sometimes disturbing answer.”— Daniel H. Pink, Author of A Whole New Mind
Steve Martin is a master of persuasion. As the CEO of the behavioral science consultancy Influence at Work (UK), Martin applies award-winning persuasion insights that help companies capture attention, inspire teams, and change the behavior of their business partners, stakeholders, and consumers. In his latest book Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why (co-authored with Joseph Marks), he uses behavioral psychology to explain why we trust some people over others—even when their credentials don’t line up. How is it possible to believe “fake news” when we have ready access to proven facts? Why is it getting harder and harder to separate the idea being communicated from the person who is conveying it? What is the impact of rabid misinformation spreading through our communities—and how can we stop it? In 1964, Marshall McLuhan argued that medium was the message. Today, Martin and Marks make a compelling case that—thanks to our uncertain world—it is the messenger who has become the message.
Martin is a visiting professor of behavioral science at Columbia University Business School, as well as a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School, the London School of Economics, and the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. He co-authored The Small Big, a book using persuasion science to explain how small changes have a big impact in today’s overly stimulated world. His previous book Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion (co-authored with Robert Cialdini and Noah Goldstein), was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller that was featured on Harvard Business Review’s ‘Breakthrough Ideas for Business’ list. To date, it has been translated into 27 languages and has sold over a million copies internationally. Martin also writes a regular business column, "Persuasion," for the British Airways inflight magazine—seen by over 2 million people each month—and frequently contributes to Harvard Business Review. His work has been featured in broadcast and print media across the world, including BBC TV and Radio, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and The Guardian.
Why do irrelevant details, such as wealth, appearance, or perceived confidence influence who we listen to—often more so than the actual facts? According to New York Times Bestselling author and world-renowned researcher Steve Martin, it’s because when a messenger delivers a message, they become connected to the content of that message in our minds. This association can have a dramatic affect on how we think, rationalize, and come to make decisions. In other words, in today’s modern age, the messenger has become the message.
In this talk, Martin explores the worlds of business, politics, and punditry to convincingly demonstrate the powerful traits of the modern-day messenger. What are the qualities or attributes that best predict who people will follow? Engaging, informative, and entertaining, Martin shares the crucial factors—both the “hard” and “soft”elements— that fundamentally influence whether or not an audience will accept what is being said: regardless of its wisdom or foolishness.