To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink

Part Two: How to Be

  • Studies show that understanding another’s perspective is the best way to move people. This is the opposite of the old system where positions of power (having more information) were used to close a sale. People with lower status are likely to be better attuned to people around them, and see their perspective more accurately. This skill is closely related to empathy but perspective is more effective. Dan also shows how subtle mimicking and light touches can help, and gives specific instructions for subtle mimicry. He shows evidence that ambiverts, people who are neither strongly extroverted or introverted, tend to have the best sales performance. Dan offers an online assessment so you can find out where you are, and gives advice on how to find this middle ground.


  • Self-talk can be positive, negative, or interrogative. Studies show that the interrogative self-talk leads to answers that can provide effective strategies and intrinsic motivation. It seems that “can I do this?” is more effective than “I can do this.”
  • Your tone of voice also appears to impact your chances of moving people. Dan sites research that shows that positive-infected pitches are more likely to be successful. If someone approaches you in a positive way, you are likely to be more receptive and more creative. Being positive will also help you believe in the products or ideas you are pushing. People who flourish generally experience three times or more positive emotions than negative ones.
  • The final piece to the buoyancy puzzle is how you self-talk after an experience. Research shows that an optimistic explanatory style where you see rejections as temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than general, or external rather than personal will improve your overall results.


  • In the past, we relied on sellers for information. Today that is less likely to be the case. As a result, today’s sellers need to engage in problem finding as opposed to problem solving. If you know your problem, you can probably solve it. If you don’t know your problem, you need someone to help find it. If you ask employers what they want, they tend to ask for problem identification over problem-solving. Look for someone who can curate information rather than just find it, and someone skilled at asking good questions. Dan offers advice for improving the questions you use.


  • How you frame your pitch is key. Dan discusses six frames. The first points out that you may have more success if you limit options so as not to overwhelm. Next, frame your sale in terns of the experience it will produce rather than focussing on material ownership. The third is the positive label frame where you can get better results by assigning a positive label to something, someone, or some group. Adding a mild negative attribute after a list of positives seems to improve sales. People also seem to find potential more interesting than accomplishments, so pitch what you will be able to do over what you have done. Finally, if you want to encourage behavior, give people specific details with reminders, and use a personal approach.
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