Speed Reading: Got Positive Persuasion?

Executives in particular, and the rest of us most of the time, are in the business of persuading, influencing, and convincing folks, agreed? Salespeople of course, but lawyers and doctors have a vested interest in getting others to follow their strategies.

Recent medical research indicates fewer than 50% of patients take their prescriptions in the recommended dosage, and over the time suggested by their physicians. Is it a weak memory or self-destructive impulses?

Americans just plain hate to be ordered around, even for their own health.
Lawyers spend days preparing their plaintiffs for trial, only to be surprised by their answers made off the cuff, and detrimental to their own best interests.

University of Leiden

We all know that kids react differently than adults, but new studies show that there is a tipping point in the brains of kids when positive feedback like, Great job, Kid,
stops working.

Up to age eleven (11), children use what psychologists call a Positive Feedback strategy. Promise a trip to the zoo, offer a wide smile, or a gold star for the refrigerator, and younger students perform well for their teacher and parents.

The Magic 12-year-old Brain

Negative Feedback like, Sorry you got it wrong this time, or You got a test score of 50, fits the learning strategies of 12-year-olds and adults, but not those age 6 through 11 years-old.

Dr. Eveline Crone and her team at the oldest university in the Netherlands, University of Leiden, reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, September 17, 2008,
if you want to influence, convince, and persuade children and adults, you must know their correct learning strategy.


Ike and Mike, they look alike, but they learn differently based on their age. The
learning threshold changes at age 12, from Positive, to Negative Feedback. It’s the
difference between Reward and Punishment or the anticipation of reward or
the threat of punishment.

Older kids and adults respond (learn) better to negative feedback from trial-and-
error, fear of loss, or outright failure, than a Tootsie Roll filled lollypop.

Adults react to threats of reduced opportunity for promotion, better than a potential raise of $5,000 annually. Sure, positive feedback is nice, but it does not deliver the bacon.

The Power of Appreciation

Homo sapiens are hardwired (instinct) to seek appreciation first from their parents,
later teachers and friends, and finally significant others and career superiors.
Appreciation is from Latin meaning, valued, appraised. We need to be recognized by the favorable opinion of others. It may be part of our ancient herding instinct.


Is competition hardwired like an instinct? Animals compete to be the leader of the pack. There is an Alpha Male in all herds who leads because he is more aggressive, and won the right to lead through pitched battles. Herds require a pecking order (hierarchy) to keep the peace for hereditary progress.

Many scientists believe competition is a result of survival and self-preservation, territoriality, and hierarchy. It’s good to be King in the animal kingdom, as well as
in one’s career. The winning competitor get the attention, prestige, and financial
rewards, and the leader of the pack gets to leave his genes for evolution.

Appreciation or Competition

Consider appreciation to be Positive Feedback (reinforcement), and competition to
require Negative Feedback. Which of the two produces the greater results?
Appreciation is exogenous (external) rewarding, while competition is endogenous (internal) rewarding through our own efforts.


Learning from failure, rejection, and mistakes (trial-and-error), produces greater
results because you are forced to discover what went wrong and how to prevent the
same errors in the future. What’s the learning experience in positive feedback?

Basal Ganglia

Inquiring Minds Have to Know: the part of our brain that responds to Positive Feedback is the Basal Ganglia (a/k/a Basal Nuclei). It stimulates our motor controls, cognition (knowledge) and emotions, and is involved in non-conscious decision-making.

Our desire for Appreciation based on Positive Feedback, is a powerful method of persuasion, influence and conviction. For adults, and kids over 12 years old, Positive
Feedback can complement the more powerful Negative Feedback.

Negative Feedback

The most powerful structure of our brain is the Amygdala (Almond-like shape) and works in conjunction with our Sympathetic Nervous System (adrenaline/epinephrine), and the fight-or-flight syndrome.

The Amygdala is our evolutionary tool for self-preservation, and responds best to fear, anxiety and stress, through Negative feedback. Can we use both Positive and Negative Feedback? Yes, but based on age, guess which has the greater influence?

So What

You can use this new scientific research to motivate the learning of children, and
adults. For kids from age 12, they switch gears and have a different learning strategy. Adults are just big kids, and learn more efficiently using trial-and-error and self-discovery.

Autodidactic Learning

Adults learn auto-didactically (self-taught). Every important skill you have, from riding a bike, driving your car, surfing the Internet, and typing, you taught yourself.
Teachers can help motivate you in particular areas, but whether you learn the skill
and retain new knowledge, is always a personal choice. No one can make you pay attention but yourself.


Would your career soar if you had a greater core knowledge base? Executives who
read and remember three (3) books, articles, and reports in the time their competitors can hardly finish one, win the promotions. Ask us how to double your long-term memory and triple your reading speed.

See ya,

Speed Read copyright © 2008 H. Bernard Wechsler
www.speedread.tv hbw@speedread.tv 1-877-567-2500 toll-free.

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by
Barron's, business partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of
Speed Reading, graduating 2 million, including the
White House staffs of four U.S. Presidents.