CHARM SCHOOL TIPS FROM A COM­PUTER

Inc. (USA) - - TECH -

Joshua Feast be­lieves ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence ap­pli­ca­tions like Cog­ito will soon be avail­able to aid in all the im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tions in your life–job in­ter­views, first-date flirt­ing, buy­ing a house. Un­til then, though, take the ad­vice of Cog­ito’s al­go­rithms for some in­sights you can use right now.

LEAD WITH CON­SIS­TENCY

One of the “hon­est sig­nals” that shapes al­most any in­ter­ac­tion is em­pha­sis—the amount of en­ergy with which a speaker de­liv­ers his or her mes­sage. In ex­per­i­ments, Sandy Pent­land has shown that speak­ers who main­tain a con­sis­tent level of em­pha­sis are seen as stead­fast in their mo­ti­va­tion and sin­gle-minded in their fo­cus. Such speak­ers are viewed by oth­ers as strong lead­ers. Vari­able em­pha­sis is a sign of in­de­ci­sion or wishy­washi­ness.

PER­SUADE WITH MIMICRY

When two peo­ple are in con­ver­sa­tional har­mony, they un­con­sciously mimic each other’s words, in­to­na­tions, and ges­tures, a re­sult of so-called mir­ror neu­rons that fire in re­sponse to oth­ers’ be­hav­iors. Pent­land’s re­search has shown that the ef­fect works in the other di­rec­tion, too: A speaker who sub­tly mim­ics his or her con­ver­sa­tion part­ner is rated as more in­ter­est­ing, hon­est, and per­sua­sive.

SOOTHE WITH RECOG­NI­TION

Cog­ito uses read­ings of vo­cal-cord ten­sion to de­tect when a caller is be­com­ing ex­ces­sively ag­i­tated. When this hap­pens, the agent sees an em­pa­thy cue and is trained to re­spond by sim­ply ac­knowl­edg­ing the caller’s feel­ings. Just say­ing “You sound a lit­tle frus­trated” can be enough to ratchet down the ten­sion, says Feast. “Even if you say, ‘No, I’m feel­ing fine,’ you’ll im­me­di­ately give me a ton of so­cial credit for rec­og­niz­ing and car­ing.”

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