It must be dreadful being a celebrity every Thursday. You wake up, you rush down to the newsagents and you buy your weekly copy of “Hello” or “OK” and dash back home to flick rapidly through the pages. You search for any mention of yourself or a picture of you emerging from a “top nightclub” or an “exclusive restaurant”. Then your heart sinks as you discover you are not in this week’s issue. Depression sets in and before you know it you could be heading off to that “expensive clinic” to get yourself sorted out. Oh the trials and tribulations of celebrity – or should we call it narcissism?
Narcissistic behaviour is where you focus so much on yourself and believe you are just fantastic that you cannot even consider the alternative view that other people may be better than you. Of course, not all celebrities are like this. Indeed, having worked in the music business myself, the real stars were anything but narcissists; but the “wannabe stars”, the “C-list celebrities” were those with many qualities of narcissism. Indeed, the people I met who were not in the least narcissistic are still stars, whereas all the narcissists I met are – well, nowhere it seems. I can’t even find them on Facebook…!
But we shouldn’t knock narcissism too much. New research suggests that having narcissistic people in your team could be helpful. The study, from psychologists at Cornell University, shows that narcissists appear to have natural levels of enthusiasm and confidence which make their suggestions appear creative when they work in teams. Indeed, ideas from narcissists appear to be accepted by others as creative solutions, even when they are not. What the research actually confirms is earlier work, not related to narcissism, which shows that you are much more likely to get your message across if you are enthusiastic and confident. This study adds to the existing literature by showing that narcissists use enthusiasm and confidence naturally as part of their communication with others.
The Cornell researchers suggest that having a narcissist on your team can actually help, because they inject seemingly creative ideas which at least get discussions going. On the other hand, too many narcissists in your office and a negative impact can arise – too many seemingly creative ideas are produced, but none of them actually of any use…!
For people running an online business, this study helps because it adds to what we already know about how to persuade people of your point of view online. That’s particularly important if you want them to buy something. There is so much competition, within easy grasp online, your powers of persuasion need to be top notch. It means that if your web pages exude confidence and enthusiasm for your subject, your material is going to be much more persuasive. Just like a narcissist, if you use language which conveys confidence on your web pages and in your sales copy, it is more likely to persuade.
Things like “if you buy this” should be turned into “when you buy this”, for instance. Demonstrate your complete confidence that people will definitely want to buy whatever it is you sell. Not only does this confidence carry great weight it seems, but you are also using an “embedded command” – subliminally telling people what to do. A double whammy.
Particularly in the UK there is a reticence against the “hard sell”; we are much more “gentle” in our sales writing and in our web pages. The result? Less sales. By being confident and enthusiastic for your products and services you are more likely to sell them.
You may remember the Sermon on the Mount telling us not to “hide our light under a bushel“. For Biblical scholars that means not hiding your faith. Narcissists have taken this to heart, it seems, since they clearly do not hide their faith in their own abilities. No matter what you think of C-list celebrities, they are confident and enthusiastic – oh, and they usually have massive bank balances as well. Perhaps your Internet success will improve when you have total faith in your own abilities and you enthusiastically and confidently convey that to everyone you meet, online and offline.
Do that and you too may be rushing down to the newsagents next week to see if you are in Hello…!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+