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Emotional Anchoring

As I started talking and writing about Emotional Relevance, more and more people started asking me what it was, how to do it, how to establish Emotional Relevance in their own relationships, how to maintain it, how to recreate it. The answer, of course, is much more complicated than a short post, so let me just start today with one piece of the puzzle. How do you initiate an Emotional Relevance process?


Well, I call it – Emotional Anchoring. It’s the experience you take another person through to get their mind (yes, here’s that reference to the Old Brain again) to instinctively attach to that experience. In this way, each time they think of you, your company/organization, service, product, their brain will take them back in an unconscious way to that experience and will signal their brain to respond accordingly.

As you can imagine, an enjoyable, positive experience will attract a positive attitude and hence, improved chances of getting what you want out of the interaction and the relationship overall. On the other hand, an uneasy, negative, or even indifferent experience will conversely result in a resentful or lukewarm reaction and could reduce or straight up block your chances of moving this relationship forward.

Let’s translate this into an example…

Say you work as a fundraiser. It takes many calls, meetings, lunches, and drinks for you to close a gift from a new donor (yes, these concepts apply to many types of businesses). You were just handed a business card by this mega-rich guy who expressed interest in supporting your cause (for other lines of business, this is your prospect client).

You get on the phone with him. You are a pretty good sales person, so you know the goal of this first call is not to close the deal immediately, but rather set up a face to face meeting. You went through his LinkedIn profile, Googled him, and you’re all set. You get on the call, you chat for about 4 minutes total, you are cordial, polite, respectful, you ask him for his availability to meet, and you schedule something for the following Wednesday. You check the box. Mission accomplished. Done.

“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels” — Daniel Goleman

Now, take the same scenario but this time, you make sure that during those 4 minutes you take him through an emotional experience and set that emotional anchor. You remember reading on his profile that he does volunteer work in Africa, and on his Facebook account, you saw pictures of a recent mission trip to Uganda. After the initial hellos of the call, you say something like, “I saw online you volunteer in Africa. I would love to hear more about that when we meet next. That must have been quite a rewarding experience.” Boom.

You just created a moment where you got his brain to recall his emotional experiences from Africa. Assuming these were mostly pleasant and rewarding, his Old Brain told the rest of his body to feel and experience the memories of that special time volunteering. How do you think that same next interaction, the face to face next Wednesday, is likely to go down after the first type of a conversation compared to the second one? Obvious, right? If you’re smart, you will be ready on Wednesday with some insights about Uganda. Your first phone call with this prospect, where you brought up Africa, is your Emotional Anchor. During your future interactions, at the right time, you could always bring back that moment….”Remember when we spoke first on the phone, you mentioned that you brought back from one of your trips an ancient tribal spear? Man, I would love to see it one day.” That will trigger again his experience and your bond created through that anchor and set him up to be in a ready position to be solicited for a nice donation.

You will keep creating these experiences and use them as anchors. The big challenge is learning how to keep triggering these different emotional points. How to constantly connect on an emotional level with whomever you are communicating with and how to constantly go back to those connections. This ladies and gentlemen, this is what I mean when I write and talk about Emotional Relevance. You’re welcome!

In future posts I will discuss ways to create different types of emotional experiences based on what kind of an experience you want them to go through – an exciting one, a thrilling one, a surprising one. a touching one. Each one has a different impact and you need to decide which one will serve you better. For now, did you know that Kampala is the capital of Uganda? Anchor that.

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