While reading Four Minute Books summary of Start With Why, I came across a sentence that really stuck out to me: “...emotions trump reason every time.”
It was used to back up Simon Sinek’s, the author of Start With Why, key idea that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why do it.” The article continued to state that rationale is the weakest way of trying to get people to make decisions. It makes sense.
Just think about how often you know better yet you let your emotions get the best of you when making a decision. I chose to research this statement further and came across an article titled, “Decisions Are Emotional, Not Logical: The Neuroscience behind Decision Making” on Big Think’s website by, Jim Camp.
The article states: “So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. In fact, even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.”
Further study eventually led me to an article on Psychology Today by, Michael Levine titled, “Logic and Emotion” which delves into the logical and emotional sides of the human brain. Michael states that it his belief that our left-brain wrestles with our right each time we make a choice.
“The left (and more pragmatic side) tells us to act logically while our right puts up a dramatic fight for following the heart's content.” - Michael Levine
He also mentioned that it is said that “emotions drive 80% of the choices Americans make, while practicality and objectivity only represent about 20% of decision-making.” I don’t know how accurate this is or how that’s even measured but what was even more interesting is that when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired that emotion wins 100% of the time and will likely push you in the wrong direction he says.
Going back to Jim Camp’s article on Big Think, there was a section on negotiation professionals and how ones that believe “they can build a case for their side using reason are doomed to be poor negotiators, because they don’t understand the real factors that are driving the other party to come to a decision.” It continues by stating, “You don’t tell your opponent what to think or what’s best. You help them discover for themselves what feels right and best and most advantageous to them. Their ultimate decision is based on self-interest. That’s emotional. I want this. This is good for me and my side.”
This can be related back to businesses and why using rationale is the weakest way of trying to get people to make decisions. In business, when presenting your product or service, you’re in somewhat like a negotiation with the potential customer. If you lead with logic by describing features and benefits, your “what” as Simon Sinek describes it, you have a greater likelihood of losing the negotiation and your potential customer. However, if you lead with your why and play to a person’s emotions, then you have a greater likelihood of winning the negotiation and converting the person to a paying customer.
Niklas Goeke, the author of the Four Minute Books summaries, used this example in his Start With Why summary to illustrate a company leading with why:
“Apple is a great example. First, they tell us why they’re here to shake things up, then they tell us how (with easy-to-use, beautifully designed products) and finally we find out what they make: computers, phones, tablets, and mp3-players.
By the time they get to their what, we’re long sold on their cause and are ready to support them in every way we can.
If you want to inspire others, start by telling them why you do things, instead of what you do, and you’ll see a massive change in engagement.”
In life, just as in business, our emotions play a strong role in our decision-making process. What we assume to be logical decisions can be emotional ones in disguise. Think about this next time you’re trying to convince somebody, in life, as well as business.