Fixated on Fascination

Discovering how you fascinate others can lead to more effective and persuasive communication.

May 11, 2012
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Fascination isn’t something you obtain, it’s something you tap into, says science-based marketer and brand guru Sally Hogshead.

Hogshead—who will deliver a keynote speech at CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference, June 17-20 in San Diego—is an international speaker and the author of “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation.”

During her presentation, Hogshead will help reveal people’s innate fascination triggers through her Fascination Advantage test.

The test, normally $17, will be provided free to conference attendees. Attendees are encouraged to fill out the test before Hogshead’s speech.

Hogshead recently told Credit Union Magazine what’s so fascinating about fascination, discussed the seven triggers of fascination—power, passion, mystique, prestige, alarm, rebellion, and trust—and what credit unions can learn from Jägermeister liqueur.

CU Mag: Tell me about fascination. What’s fascinating about fascination?

Hogshead: Fascination is an intense emotional focus. When you are fascinated by something you are completely immersed in it. You’re mesmerized by it.

We know this feeling when we’re reading a book and we are so captivated by the story and the characters that we stop thinking about everything else around us.

But more importantly, we know this feeling in life when we are captivated by a speaker, a co-worker, or by somebody that is giving a presentation.

We can create these moments of fascination voluntarily, and we can control the way the brain is hardwired to respond and use that to communicate, not only more effectively but more persuasively.

CU Mag: How can CUs—institutions that project stability and have long-term relationships with members—maintain fascination over time?

Hogshead: In order to fascinate people over time you have to be fascinating more than once.

It is about using the trust trigger. The trust trigger is founded on consistency, reliability, and patterns. The more we can build patterns, the more people can deepen their relationship to us—and continue to be fascinated, not just once, but build that thing called loyalty.

It’s about making sure people know exactly what you are going to deliver, and delivering that in a way that they don't even need to think about it. Because we live in a world that is chaotic and overwhelming, and there is something that feels really good about knowing exactly what we are going to get.

The downside to the trust trigger and sturdiness is that they can become boring. We have to constantly inject other triggers like passion, rebellion, prestige, or mystique to sustain attraction.

NEXT: How can fascination work for a business?

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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