Why We’re All Afraid of Losing Something

Let’s be clear. The title of this piece was purely clickbait and I am talking about a very specific scenario. In the realm of dating or inter-gender dynamics, I have no comment. In theory, we should say what we mean. However, that’s not always the case. And even when we don’t, others won’t always listen.

I try to stay as far away from politics as possible because I am not a politician.

This website is about increasing your bottom line and scaling with the subliminal tactics the largest brands in the world have used since time immemorial.

“NO” means “YES”

In this case, I am referring to one-on-one scenarios with your clients.

Before you disagree with me, consider applying this technique – seek first to understand, and you will be understood.

As business owners, we have to remember our customers are going to approach us with built-in beliefs, ideas, objections, and it is our job to pay close attention to these as they come up.

1) In a sales scenario, YES responses create distractions.

For example, if you’re a dentist and you ask a new patient if they’ve ever been to the dentist before… seems pretty harmless, right?

Most people living in middle America have been to the dentist before, so what is the point of that question?

Unless the patient has extremely bad breath or needs major surgery – this question is going to send them into panic mode. The patient is going to be second-guessing whether they made a decision coming into your office, and assuming that you’re going to sell them on a procedure they don’t need or an upsell like teeth whitening. They’re going to wonder if they have cavities and every second after that question will feel like a minute.

This is not the ideal trajectory for a new patient.

Every “yes” response creates anxiety in the patient. People don’t like to say yes but are more than comfortable saying no. The initial encounter with a customer, in-person and online, is about building trust, listening, and helping the prospect feel comfortable with you. People are far more invested in their personal relationships than any business, health, financial, or job-related task.

Yet, poor health, finances, etc create huge problems in relationships. Consequently, your clients are proactively trying to remedy these problems before they arise. Did you know that 70% of your decisions through the day are made in an effort to avoid losing something? Loss Aversion is the primary driver in neuropsychology. The fear of losing $200,000 is far more motivating than the potential to gain $200,000.

A better question for the dentist to ask would be something like, “have you ever been to medical school?”

Most patients will say no, subconsciously admitting that you’re the expert in that setting. This will provide an opportunity to reinforce your values and authority in the consumer’s eyes. Alternatively, you could ask the patient if they’ve “ever seen dromedary camel teeth.” Show them a picture (like this one) on your smartphone, and they’ll laugh a little. This will tackle many subconscious insecurities simultaneously. It will build trust because you’re showing them a photo on your personal device, instead of being politically correct and uptight. If they look at the picture but remain uptight, ask why they came in to see you, and then weave in another question that’s a bit more personal.

Asking questions to get a “no” response is also a decoy that will show you have a sense of humor. It’ll lighten the mood a bit, clearing any negative mental conversations they’re having about the practice, your work, or beliefs about their oral health. It will also show the patient that you’re savvy and aware of the cultural belief that nobody likes visiting the dentist. Now you’re two steps ahead of them, and they’ve entered into your velvet ropes.

2) We’re all terrified of losing something.

And at the core, we’re most terrified of losing everything.

The Terror Management Theory (Biernat & Danaher, 2013) states that we’re so fundamentally afraid of even the thought of losing everything (dying), that we are equally determined not to think about it. Denial, avoidance, and trying not to notice something takes it out of conscious awareness and places a spotlight on the issue in the subconscious mind. Have you ever noticed a homeless person, and realize you don’t have any spare change to give? You avoided them and then they were somewhere on your mind the rest of that day. If you had given them money, the situation would’ve been resolved, but instead, it remains something like a loose end to the subconscious mind. How about that girl you met years ago, and never saw again… She still pops up from time to time, right?

If you had dated her, and let things play out – she probably wasn’t your “great white buffalo.” But it sure feels like it when things are left unfinished.

The Science of Loss

This means that your clients and prospective clients aren’t consciously buying your product or service because they think they’re going to lose something. They are subconsciously motivated to take precautions against losing something, and this fundamental understanding is far more important.

Insurance companies have come to understand the concept of Loss Aversion very well. They’ll sell you car insurance, renters insurance, home insurance, and life insurance. Then they’ll try to sell you wedding, kidnapping, and alien abduction insurance (yes these are real things you can insure). These companies have trained salespeople to pry on this subconscious fear of loss.

Denying death is like a toddler throwing a tantrum when it’s time to take a nap – it’s silly yet common across the board. At the core, everyone fears death. Just beneath the surface, they fear being unattractive, so they get cosmetic surgery. They fear being lonely or unhealthy, so they join a gym. They fear being lazy, unproductive and poor, so they buy personal development books and courses. Every decision is part reactive and part proactive.

The more a person experiences, the more they feel they may lose. A very wealthy person may schedule regular massages, drive 3-5 different cars, have homes in multiple countries, and keep an attorney on retainer. They know that they have more to lose, so they spend more on protecting all they’ve gained.

When “No” Means “No”

It’s important to pay attention when someone is telling you about their life experience.

Not necessarily because you care, although you might care. It’s important because they’re telling you what they feel is relevant to you.

3) Clients are never going to tell you something that doesn’t achieve a specific goal.

For example, would you tell your significant other about a woman or man you found attractive? Let’s say you proceeded to flirt with that person, and exchange contact info in order to determine if there was any long-term potential… Would you tell on yourself?


But what you tell them is going to be specifically filtered through a lens you’ve created based on how you perceive your partner.

Further, your delivery will be calibrated to some extent. You might talk about that person’s physical features which you found attractive, in hopes of getting your partner to dress better, or go to the gym.

Alternatively, you might tell your partner something you liked that’s completely unachievable for them.

It may come off mean, but there is a secondary payoff that shouldn’t be left out. Maybe you’re attempting to push your partner away little by little, or trying to appear more significant in their eyes. There is always a purpose behind what people tell you, and it conveys more about how they perceive you or your business than meets the eye.

Creating Trust-Based Influence

What do you think when someone says:

  • “I don’t mean to be rude but…”
  • “I don’t mean to waste your time, but…”
  • “This might sound silly, but…”

They’re telling you how they think you’re going to perceive the next statement. Essentially, they’re buffering you. A buffer statement is inserted at the beginning of the correspondence to cushion the impact of what’s about to be said, or reduce the severity of the message.

Why do we buffer?

We use buffers to soften negative news with more positive or pleasant phrasing. The buffer typically comes at the beginning, and a person may buffer several times throughout a conversation. Creating influence based on trust involves a bit of neuropsychological sleight-of-hand. Rather than following the traditional route of buffering negative statements, and goaling for “yes” responses – try this on for size. Try giving your clients everything they want, from their point of view, until they say “you’re right.”

After that, only buffer “yes” questions with one of the following statements:

  • Is it a ridiculous idea…?
  • Are you against…?
  • Is it a bad idea…?
  • Have you given up on…?
  • Do you disagree…?

Most of the time, the answer will be no. “No it’s not a ridiculous idea,” or “no I haven’t given up” will have the same effect as a yes response with more specificity, detail, and direction. Sign up for our email list to learn more about consumer seduction.