I read a fascinating article by Jeff Sexton – The Asymmetry of Trust. Jeff talks about the fact that people tend to trust negative reviews more than positive ones.
As he points out:
Basically, we grant others authority in the matter of their own personal experiences. If they say their favorite color is blue, we believe them. If they say they had a bad experience with such and such a product or service provider, we believe that too, because they are speaking from their own personal experience in that one situation.
You don’t have to be an expert on vacuum cleaners to know that the one you bought has failed you miserably. And your experience alone is often enough to sway someone from buying that brand.
What he's saying, In a nutshell, is you don't need to be an "authority" to know something doesn't work. But it's also pretty black and white if a product "failed you miserably." That strikes me not as opinion but as fact.
But do you then need to be an authority to know something does work? If you recommend a product, is that now a personal opinion without authority? Will you need to back up that personal opinion with information that displays your expertise and authority in order for people to believe you?
For men, yes. For women, not necessarily.
Men value credibility, women value connection
As Jeff Sexton points out, men can look at testimonials and personal anecdotes as opinions of individuals. In order for that individual to be taken seriously, he or she must establish credibility or authority. In an example of choosing a chair, Jeff has these suggestions:
To believe and act on your recommendation, I’d need to know:
- that your use of the chair is similar to mine,
- that you’ve already tried a bunch of chairs, and
- what your criteria were for selecting the chair you did.
With men, credibility building specifics must be addressed before your "opinion" will be taken seriously.
Women use personal anecdotes as proof
Listen to a woman making a case for something, and she'll likely tell a personal story of something that has happened to her or someone she knows.
Women cite personal experience (aka opinion) as proof. Other women understand this. Women respond to testimonials and reviews of "people like them."
The basis for this could be research that shows men focus on hierarchy and women focus on relationships.
Women believe people who they feel they have something in common with. It is that commonality that gives people credibility.
Men believe people who they feel know what they are talking about. It is that expertise and authority that gives people credibility.
When women use personal anecdotes as proof, they fail to convince men. I've seen this happen more times than I can count.
Women,, if you're trying to convince a man of "your opinion," you have to build credibility first. (See Jeff's suggestions above) Otherwise he's likely to think, "Well, that's just her. That's not how other people think/feel/act."
Men, if you're trying to convince a woman of "your opinion," show her ways in which you are like her. Demonstrate ways in which your lives/values/beliefs are similar.
Why word of mouth is so strong with women
Because women trust opinions of "someone like me," they put a lot of faith in what other women say about products and services. They will often turn to product reviews, Facebook, Twitter and other sources when making a buying decision.
If I'm buying a digital camera, an expert rating won't have the same influence of a woman like me who has a camera and loves it.
Temperpedic uses the power of word of mouth and social media
Temperpedic understands this and uses the power of word of mouth personal recommendations to sell their mattresses.
Some research points to the fact that people trust social media less than they used to. What can you do to increase her trust? Find out in my post Do Women Still Trust Social Media.