Scott Adams taught me a neat trick a while back, when he thought he was teaching a persuasive technique.

He did teach it to me (it may have been the fake “because”), but he also taught me something much more valuable.

Good persuasion is effective even when you know it’s persuasion.

Some of us human beings are just self-aware enough to be able to step back and observe ourselves being persuaded, when we recognize the opportunity.

Some of his posts still finish with fake-because taglines for his book. This technique is that powerful, even when the reasons are totally nonsensical. Sometimes, I almost fall for them (despite having already read his book).

Even though my rational brain knows that it’s fake, and can appreciate the artistry of the technique, my lizard brain wants to click the link BECAUSE something good is on the other side.

Now, that’s the setup.

Here’s the application.

Recently I had my annual performance review at my day job. 

My bosses had nothing but positive things to say. The word “eloquent” was used (and that is an especial compliment for your dear blog hostess, who has studied rhetoric extensively). They recognized my “unique skillset.”

I canst tell a lie: it felt good.

Really good.

But I could feel that little niggle–that same little niggle that makes me want to click through to buy Scott Adams’ book even though I have already read it.

All those compliments were acting as powerful persuasion.

It’s dangerous, I know, to get a lot of validation from your day job. It’s a very fragile position to be in. But I don’t get a lot of compliments these days, and it felt (and still feels) pretty good.

Good enough to settle down and keep my same job for couple-few years?

That’s what they want from me.

But is that what I want from them?

We’ll see.

So thank you, Scott Adams, for teaching me how to recognize my very own persuasion “tells.” I feel like I’ve just avoided some sort of cognitive honeypot.