Book Summary: Jack Nasher - "Convinced" - Monkeys.Digital Blog

In this article I summarise the first edition of the book “Convinced” by Jack Nasher, which was published in Germany in 2017 by Goldmann Verlag. The topic of the book is what factors we use to judge the competence of others and how we can increase perceived competence to be more present in the business world. With this knowledge, you will be able to take your business to a new level!


1. Perceived competence
2. High expectation
3. Good news, bad news
4. Competence farming – isolating competence
5. Verbal communication – the language of the luminary
6. Non-verbal communication – how to show competence with body language
7. Beautiful and popular – how to increase your popularity and attractiveness
8. Status
9. Summary – You have to to do this!


Chapter 1 – Perceived competence

The Experiment

Nasher tells of an experiment with the famous violinist Joshua Bell. It is about passers-by in the metro station who do not recognise the world-famous violin virtuoso Bell when he plays the violin, because he does not look competent in a baseball cap and his appearance around his audition seems less than masterful. For this reason, they cannot believe that this violinist is one of the best violinists in the world.

→ People take things differently and also in terms of the presentation around it. So bad work does not necessarily lead to the corresponding external perception if it is nevertheless well packaged. But this also applies the other way round: if the packaging and the presentation are not right, then unfortunately good work, as in this example, will not be appreciated as such.

The problem of correct assessment

People who are not competent enough themselves in one area cannot evaluate the competence of the other objectively and realistically! As a layman, one cannot say whether the lawyer is a competent legal adviser or not!

  1. We cannot assess competence properly
  2. We consider competence to be the central quality in the profession
  3. What counts for success is less the actual competence than the perceived competence

Security in the ocean of uncertainties

In this ocean it is important to radiate security. A leader often knows very little about many issues in the company and is therefore rarely able to evaluate others in a truly competent and capable manner. In addition, you need to be aware of your incompetence in some areas. In this way you can also appear more confident to the outside world and create a better feeling with your counterpart with your self-confidence.


-> Selffulfilling Prophecy

An increase in perceived competence leads to an increase in actual competence through the influence of the outside world.


Interim conclusion

  • Success and failure have little influence on perceived competence.
  • do not succumb to the illusion of a fair world (one cannot expect to be judged fairly)
  • no one can have all-embracing competence
  • we do not know what makes us appear competent
  • if you appear competent, you become more competent!


Chapter 2 – High expectations

The richest man in the world

Here a meeting took place between the IBM top management and Bill Gates. The IBM employees did not even recognise the CEO because of his appearance, which made little impression on them. At the next meeting, however, he dressed competently and aroused far more interest in his counterpart than before.

Between modesty and ostentation

There is talk of an experiment in which the test persons are given a task. Before that, however, they had to guess their own performance. While they were doing this task, they were judged by independent third parties.

→ The greater the self-perception, the higher the score ultimately awarded by the independents.

Subjects who previously rated themselves very well and yet performed very poorly were rated better than those who rated themselves worse despite performing better.

Don’t be afraid

We don’t choose what we like best, we choose what we fear least.


  • McDonalds visitors keep going to McDonalds because they rely on the quality they are used to and are reluctant to try new experiences at guaranteed better restaurants.
  • Starbucks visitors also prefer their beloved chain to the Italian café.
    → Don’t try to be a good choice. Eliminate everything that makes you a bad one!

So rather meet customers with phrases like “Take it easy! I’ll take care of it” rather than spreading panic!

Always be confident

The phenomenon of confirmation bias is about the fact that we unconsciously prefer information in our perception that fits our hypothesis – we confirm what we believe in advance!

So if we sell ourselves very well from the outset, we are forgiven for mistakes!

→ We forgive the optimist for failure. We see him as the solution and not as part of the problem, although he may be just that!

Fun Fact: When our heart beats out of fear or the like, the chance of falling in love increases!

Priming- true confidence comes from within!

The first person you have to convince of your competence is yourself!


  1. What can I actually do?
  2. Why am I suited for this job?
  3. What was my greatest professional success?
  4. What have I ever achieved for my company?
  5. Why should I, of all people, be responsible for this project?
  6. Why should I be entrusted with the leadership role?

The answers have an unconscious effect on your behaviour!

→ Priming

= Become aware of positive qualities & abilities in order to be perceived more competently!

Modesty is … ?

People believe what they unconsciously expect! If we give our counterpart doubts about our person due to modesty, this leads to being perceived as incompetent!


Fear reduction: Eliminate what speaks against you!
Demonstrate confidence in your abilities and upcoming tasks. Priming!
No modesty about your abilities.

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Chapter 3 – Good news, bad news

The power of association

The halo effect ensures that positive as well as negative news immediately rubs off on the person involved! When a manager delivers bad news, his or her competencies are perceived worse because of the halo effect.

Good news

The messenger is always associated with the news, regardless of whether he was involved in the content or not.

→ When you deliver good news, you should make sure that you are the centre of attention and that the undivided attention belongs to you.

Bad news

Because of the halo effect, everything negative is immediately projected onto the messenger of the news, so to minimise this effect you should keep as low a profile as possible! Or let someone else convey this bad message 😉

People who apologise for a mistake are perceived as more sympathetic. Even if you are not responsible for the mistake.

The primacy effect

People pigeonhole others within a very short time! Be it because of what other people say or because of their own judgement. Because of this first impression, we literally look for theses that confirm this view. Qualities that speak against the category of our pigeonhole are not even considered!

→ Start with the best news in order to slide into the “competent” drawer and then present the bad news. This way, your delivery of the better news has a better effect on the judgement than that of the bad news.

Chapter 4 – Competence Framing – Isolating Competence

The amazing Fitzwilliam

It is not easy for the observer to decipher how much is competence. The incompetent observer assesses the competence of a service provider on the basis of the completion of a task, which he bases on three criteria:

  1. Motivation
  2. Degree of difficulty
  3. Luck

We had no luck and then we also had bad luck

The more problematic a situation is, the more competent the person behind the solution must be.

→ spread optimism, but also highlight the difficulties that you seem to be able to overcome effortlessly!

Effortless superiority – the natural talent

In 1971, Hans Pfitzner presented the opera “Palestrina” for the first time in Munich. He claimed that he had spent ten years on this work, whereupon Richard Strauss, who was present, whispered to him why he was composing if he found it so difficult!

So never complain about the problems or obstacles, otherwise it will make the other person uncomfortable and he will think we are less competent. It is better to convey the feeling that the adverse circumstances caused no problems at all! Take on the role of a natural in order to make the client feel secure. Fulfil all the clichés, then, in order to conform to the ideal image that everyone has in their heads about a certain field of expertise.


Mental attribution error: People prefer to explain the behaviour of others in terms of character traits rather than external circumstances.

  • Emphasise the competence factor:
    • draw attention to difficult tasks
    • point out unfortunate circumstances
    • not showing effort


  • Asserting that previous successes and training come easily to you
  • “I was born for the subject”, “My path was predetermined for me”.
  • conforming to the stereotype of the professional


Chapter 5 – Verbal communication – the language of the luminary

Like on television

The mere manner of speaking affects the perception of our competence. This is the reason why many perceive newscasters, who only read out a prepared script, to be so competent. The way of speaking is often more important than what is said.

Competence killer: Stuttering in the voice


Speaking fast, not slowly, increases perceived competence.
If you talk fast, you think fast!
Constant throat clearing or a shrill voice annoy the listener.

High language

In our minds, dialect testifies to a lower, peasant status. Sometimes, however, it can be advantageous if you want to fulfil a cliché.


It is effective if you speak often and for a moderate amount of time, and do not stand up and deliver a monologue for 30 minutes. In addition, you should use few repetitions and convince the listener of your large vocabulary. Furthermore, frequently falling into words does not represent engagement, but comes across as very incompetent.


Robin Lakoff analyses people when they talk and divides speaking styles into two groups:

  • powerful
  • powerless

He calls the ability to speak powerfully powertalking. The person who avoids powerless formulations speaks powerfully! These would be:

  • Use of amplifiers (I really wanted to)
  • hedging attempts (you know, quite)
  • exaggerated forms of politeness (esteemed sir)
  • over-correct language
  • exaggerated emphasis and intonation
  • Hanging questions (Don’t you?)


Artificially complicated content has positive effects on perceived competence. In addition, number-based arguments again support one’s own thesis or conclusion.


  • Speak faster
  • Speak deeper and louder
  • Do not speak in monotone
  • do not speak dialect, but high language
  • remain silent before the most important argument in order to attract attention
  • take over the word often and in the middle
  • avoid unnecessary repetitions
  • Use a large vocabulary
  • never interrupt the other person
  • Complicate the argument and base it on numbers


Chapter 6 – Nonverbal Communication – How to Show Competence with Body Language

The Effect of Nonverbal Communication

People trust body language because they know how empty and deceptive a person’s words can be.

Near and far

Too little distance between two interlocutors can seem intimate and therefore uncomfortable. Perceived competence is improved by a distance of 1.20 m to 1.50 m.

Eye contact

While you are speaking, look around and exchange eye contact with several people present. BUT: Looking at the speaker all the time is usually perceived as a submissive gesture and thus as incompetent.

Physical contact

Those who touch their counterpart not only increase their own status, but are also perceived as more competent due to the halo effect. This results from the fact that the conversation partner feels secure.

  • tapping on the shoulder
  • touching on the arm

Stand correctly, sit correctly

Alignment at a 30° angle! Do not fidget, as this radiates nervousness. Give a relaxed impression:

  • Tilt forward 10°
  • Back visible and not curved
  • Hands rest asymmetrically on your lap
  • Tilt your arms and legs slightly forward

If you place yourself at the head of the table, you will also be perceived as more competent!


The following applies to height:

If you as a man are shorter than 1.83 m, try to appear taller!


Adapt to the room! Adapt your appearance to the size of the room and the assembled audience. Do not gesticulate with your hands in a choreographed way, but rather spontaneously and in harmony with what is being said.


The psychologist Albert Mehrabian has established the following formula for appearance:

Total Liking = 7 % Verbal + 38 % Vocal Liking + 55 % Facial Laking.

  • Distance from 1.20 m to 1.50 m
  • look the other person in the eye when talking!
  • Do not smile all the time
  • Use touch effectively
  • as a man, adopt a slightly relaxed posture
  • Sit at the head of the table.
  • Height plays a role
  • Show enthusiasm

Chapter 7 – Beautiful and Popular – How to Increase Your Popularity and Attractiveness

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their character and my enemies for their brains.

The power of the positive or the negative trend

Thorndike explains the phenomenon (constant errors in psychological evaluation) by the false evaluation of character traits based on outward appearance. The halo effect runs like a thread through the entire assessment of a person. If you stand out with competence in one area, this rubs off on other areas. Because people adapt their observations to the impressions they have gained, you will also be evaluated positively in other areas, because the observers feel confirmed in their positive impressions with the smallest promising feature.

→ Don’t be negative!


We can increase our popularity with other people through 3 factors:

  1. ingratiation (“other enhancement”)
  2. Opinion conformity (“opinion conformity”)
  3. Self-presentation (“self-enhancement”)


Joe-Girad is in the Guinness Book of Records as the person who has closed the most sales! His secret formula, confirmed by research:

“When people receive compliments from someone who is currently in need of their help, the flattery is clearly evident, and yet this increases the popularity of the flatterer, regardless of whether the words are true or not!”

The reason for this: people have a need to be pleased with themselves, which is reinforced by our compliments! However, fetched compliments are not needed. Respect and sincere interest lead to success!

→ So find out where the other person’s talents lie!

You can also ingratiate yourself with the technique of mirroring. Conversation partners who are sympathetic to each other become like each other within a few minutes! Also known as the chameleon effect. However, you should only use this tactic in moderation and consciously in order to generate sympathy in the other person. Too much mirroring, e.g. of body language, is like aping and will only make you unsympathetic and artificial.

Equality of opinion

We like people best who hold our views. Opinion Conformity says that you should formally tell the person you are talking to what they want to hear on important topics. However, you should be careful if the person you are talking to turns his or her opinion around 180°, as this is a tactic of deception.

Likeable self-promotion

Through the similarity-attraction hypothesis, which says that we should respond to similarities between ourselves and the other person, we are automatically perceived as more likeable. It is important that you also reveal something about yourself. However, if you tell too intimate things about yourself, you are more likely to make yourself unpopular. It is important not to put yourself in a bad light!

Women open up to a person they like, men to a person they trust.

→ In the age of flat hierarchies, it counts more than ever to be perceived positively at all levels.


Research has confirmed that the first thing people always mention is the appearance of the person they are describing. This is because appearance is an overt characteristic that is visible throughout the interaction. More attractive people, for example, are more likely to be helped and attributed success than less pretty people. However, many people deny that a person’s beauty influences their judgement. However, the effect of attractiveness (mentioned above) is only apparent if it is not detected by the observer.

The factors of attractiveness

People often judge a person’s competence based on appearance alone, and they do so quite quickly and consistently.



  • flatter
    • build up a reservoir of goodwill
    • be specific with compliments
    • show respect and genuine interest and ask for advice
    • bring up topics that interest the person you are talking to
    • do your counterpart a favour
    • mirror yourself to the other person
  • Equality of opinion
    • express the other person’s opinion before they do so
    • Be firm in your stance
    • Let the other person convince you
  • Present yourself sympathetically
    • Highlight any common ground
    • Give personal details, but nothing intimate

Chapter 8 – Status

Status and competence

The higher the perceived status, the higher the perceived competence. The word of people with high professional status, such as doctors or lawyers, carries more weight even in off-topic discussions! People with higher status have more influence, which means they are followed more often. Higher status leads to higher authority, greater respect and increased trust.

Ranking of status symbols:

  • Company car
  • own assistant
  • Title on business card
  • Expense budget
  • Lufthansa senator card
  • Company credit card
  • Art in the office

The habitus

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu defined the habitus as follows: The habitus is composed of a person’s appearance and demeanour, which includes clothing, language and the lifestyle displayed.

Clothing and accessories – the classics among the status symbols

Clothing, as the only status symbol, has a powerful effect. Since we are more likely to be perceived positively when we are well dressed than when we are wearing old or inappropriate clothes, you should dress formally if you want to radiate seriousness and casually if you want to appear likeable.

→ Don’t dress for the job you have, but for the job you want to have.

However, the most decisive factor is the typical work tool for the job in question, which symbolises status. For example, a MacBook Pro increases the perceived competence of a developer immensely, or a stethoscope that of a general practitioner.

The effect of “nonconformity”

People who already enjoy a very high status can increase this by doing without typical status symbols! (Example: Steve Jobs with a turtleneck jumper and Marc Zuckerberg with a hoodie). However, the following applies: Quod licet jovi, non licet bovi – What Jupiter is allowed to do, cattle are not allowed to do!

Tattoos: These have a shock effect and are more likely to attract negative attention when in contact with businessmen → No tattoos

Interaction – Between self-confidence and presumption

When introducing your product, you can quickly lead your interviewer into unfamiliar territory by asking open questions and then brag about your expertise. After you have asked your question, you should remain silent for a moment and thus demonstrate your power. THOUGH: By remaining silent, you may learn information that would otherwise have remained hidden!

The psychologist Woodstock found out, for example, that stricter admission criteria increase loyalty towards the association or club. The members then see themselves as special and are proud of having overcome the given hurdles.

The education game

If you read the literature of the educated, you will be associated with them in the same way! So you can strengthen your habitus by appearing educated. If you speak and think like the educated milieu, you are automatically accorded greater respect.

Birging – Indirect Status

There is a misconception that meeting a competent person will have a positive effect on you! However, this is not the case. Nevertheless, the approach is not entirely wrong. For through purely mental association with the person, one can participate in his or her status through birging. Birging (Basking in Reflected Glory) is where the effect of status and the halo effect meet! Those who were born on Steve Jobs’ death, for example, are associated with him purely in thought. By highlighting the slightest resemblance to a celebrity, you can increase your competence even with intelligent people.


Hardly anything convinces us as effectively as the status of a person! The schnitzel served under a silver bell in Vienna’s Imperial Hotel tastes better than the equivalent piece of meat on a paper plate from the snack bar next door. But communication signals are usually valued more than material status symbols. For example, you should have a quotation or two in store to convince your counterpart of your large vocabulary and knowledge. Status is a decisive factor in doing business because it formally makes it easier for the customer to make a decision. In addition, people with high status are more popular than those with low status.

  • Habitus
    • the habitus summarises the whole appearance of a person
    • choose your clothes carefully
    • adapt your status symbols to the environment
  • Interact
    • place yourself at the head of the table
    • use power talking
    • use targeted questions and silences
    • Praise your counterpart
    • avoid trench warfare and reconcile disputants with each other
    • Do not offer yourself
  • Education
    • draw attention to your titles and job titles
    • show your certificates etc. visibly
    • strive to get your work published
    • play the education game to demonstrate general education

Summary – You have to do this!

  1. Competence is the most important factor – but since the outside world is not able to realistically assess competence, only perceived competence counts. Neither success nor failure have any influence on perception. Selffulffilling Prophecy also increases actual competence.
  2. Consciously manage expectations – be optimistic and eliminate arguments that speak against you.
  3. Priming – What speaks for you? This way you influence yourself positively!
  4. Good and bad news – show maximum presence for good news; keep yourself as hidden as possible for bad news. Say the positive first, then the negative.
  5. Isolate factors – emphasise the challenge. Point out unfortunate circumstances, but play up the ease of the task. As a natural, you were born for the task. Fulfil the stereotype!
  6. Voice – speak quickly and with a deeper and more extensive range! Apply power talking.
  7. Halo effect – individual actions create an overall impression.
  8. Ingratiate – show respect, genuine interest and acknowledge the person’s integrity. Also ask them for help.
  9. Educational game – a great knowledge of general education. Learn to think and talk like educated people.

And now I wish you much success in putting this into practice! Show the others how competent you are!

Promising greetings
Your Phil

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