Here’s a trick that could earn you more money, enhance your relationships and make your life more enjoyable.
It’s one of the most valuable (and potentially lifesaving) skills I learned while chasing bad guys. It has nothing to do with physical self-defense, yet it has the power to disarm even the nastiest and angriest crook.
Like so many skills of this sort, this one comes to us from a former Israeli soldier.
To understand the concept, you have to understand the human brain.
A Mind Trick
A simple experiment by the man responsible for uncovering the trick highlights the human brain’s weakness.
He and his team asked folks to stick their hands in cold water. The group first held their left hands in cold water for exactly 60 seconds.
Then they put their right hands in the water. They did the exact same thing as they did with their other hands, but then, without a break, they kept their right hands in the water for an additional 30 seconds as its temperature was raised by two degrees.
After the folks were done, researchers asked the participants which experience they’d do again. In other words, which hand received the more enjoyable experience?
Without fail, the majority of folks chose the right hand – the hand that had the exact same painful immersion in cold water, but experienced less discomfort at the end of the trial.
Researchers immediately drew conclusions.
It’s not the duration of our pain that we recall… it’s simply how the incident felt at its peak and its conclusion that drives our memory.
But the folks in lab coats didn’t stop there…
They went all out (or is it all in?) for their next experiment.
This time they studied colonoscopy patients.
One group of patients received the traditional procedure. It was painful, but lasted just a few minutes.
The other group got the same test, but when it was time to remove the scope, doctors simply left it in place without moving it for a few minutes.
It was uncomfortable for the patients, but not painful.
Once the scope was removed, the group that received the latter treatment (with the less painful ending) overwhelmingly gave the overall procedure much better reviews.
Again, researchers proved that our brains don’t keep good track of time.
Even though the first group of patients were uncomfortable for less time overall, their procedure ended with pain… so that’s how they remembered it.
The idea revealed by these experiments has become known as the “peak-end” theory.
It has immense value in our everyday lives.
End on a High Note
Good retailers, for instance, use the theory to ensure customers leave their stores happy.
In fact, one major retailer recently revamped its sales procedures based on the idea. It now greets every customer who walks in the door (considered the peak of his experience) and then ensures a salesman shakes his customer’s hand as he walks out (the end of the experience).
And one cellphone company understood that customers who called to report their stolen or missing phones were having a very bad day.
Most calls were unpleasant and cold.
But then the company learned of the peak-end theory and started ending every call with a nice surprise. Knowing that few folks memorize phone numbers these days, the agents offered to email the customer a list of his most commonly called contacts.
Folks who had just lost their phones and therefore all of their contacts loved the idea.
In both instances, satisfaction scores soared.
Anybody can improve their lives using this idea.
For instance, one trick to use when you’re involved in something quite negative – like getting a surgical procedure – is to focus tightly on the final outcome. A root canal is a lot more pleasant when we don’t focus on the drilling and instead focus on what it will be like to eat without pain.
Another trick is to do your very best to end every experience on a high note.
A classic example is something we’ve all experienced. A sporting event or concert may be fantastic, but getting out of the parking lot when it’s over is miserable.
So instead of ending the night on a low note, leave a few minutes early and beat the crowd.
You’ll miss a few minutes of the show, but your memory of the event will be greatly improved.
And finally, when dealing with other people in bad situations (like arrests), smart folks will ensure the end of the interaction is positive.
One trick that any police officer will tell you works quite well in a high-stress situation is to simply summarize all the things the suspect could get cited for but won’t.
If you’ve gotten a speeding ticket, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of the trick.
You get a hefty fine… but as the officer hands the ticket to you, he rattles off a long list of “breaks” you could have been cited for. Done right, the interaction almost always ends with a smile and a handshake.
As for the Israeli soldier who gave us the idea, his name is Daniel Kahneman – a man with theories about the mind that were so revolutionary, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics in 2002.
He proved that our minds affect our money, our relationships… and even how we chase bad guys.
Try this one. It works.