As many of you do, I love watching people, and this week I want to share 3 fascinating insights on the psychology of influence when it comes to social interaction that I saw in a town square in Greece a few days ago.

I was in Thessaloniki and, in one of the town’s magnificent squares, there were a few lads trying to sell cheap leather wrist straps, you know the souvenirs you get, cheap but not high quality.

These young men were going up to people, and I have to say they were extremely skilled when it comes to the psychology of influence. They would spot their victim and then walk up to them with the most brilliant, beautiful smile – the first tactic they were using to sell their wristbands. It’s very hard when someone smiles at you not to smile back and this is exactly what happened. These guys had instantly made a connection.

Physical Contact
The second thing they did was put their hand out and extend a greeting as if they were old friends with the person they were approaching. Again, if someone puts their hand out to shake yours it’s very difficult to refuse. Then you have made physical contact which can be very powerful when it comes to making a connection. These lad were using this insight to great effect.

The third and final thing that they did was to actually place a wristband on the ‘victim’. Imagine someone trying to steal your watch, a pickpocket. They might wrap their hand around your wrist and take your watch away, well these guys were doing the opposite; they were actually putting these wristbands on people without even really asking the person or referring to the wristbands themselves.

What I witnessed was an extraordinarily high success rate Almost 100% of people gave money. They found it almost impossible not to. This person had smiled, made physical contact and then given them a wristband meaning there was a certain obligation to give some money in return.

I highlight this not because I’m suggesting you do this but, instead, as an interesting insight into how people can influence and persuade without us realising. To be honest these guys weren’t really being moral – they seemed to be targeting younger kids, people perhaps in a more vulnerable position and hadn’t got the social skills, the people skills, to say “No, I don’t want this, take it back.”

So, be aware when you’re out and about of who use psychology to make sure that we give them money and end up with a piece of old tat that we don’t want at all!

I’ll be back in seven days with another Meetology Minute – exploring the fascinating science powering world-class people skills.

Until then, take care,


Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab



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