Wednesday, December 15, 2010

harvard jumps the linguistic shark

Harvard Business Review editor Julia Kirby adds to the mountain of pseudo-scientific bullshit filling the innerwebz by taking the modest results of a small study (about the fact that mimicking accents helps sentence comprehension) and jumping to the wild and unfounded conclusion that salespeople should start faking accents. It would make a great Monty Python skit, but it's a sad blog post from an editor of a prestigious business magazine. Money quote:

But this study suggests another possibility. Perhaps part of why mirroring and matching works is not because of how it operates on the prospect in a sales conversation, but how it operates on the salesperson. When we switch into another person's mode, however superficially, perhaps our brains are triggered to do so on a deeper level, and we become more able to receive the information that person is trying to convey.

We all know the key to empathy is to walk a mile in another's shoes. That can never literally be done, especially in brief sales encounters. But at least we can put on their brogues.


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