Queen Elizabeth II was just 25 years old when her father King George VI passed away. She was to become the Queen of Great Britain. At a time when Great Britain was planning to accelerate the decolonization process and provide independence to a lot of their colonies. At a time when people were questioning why a monarchy was even needed in Britain anymore. At a time when monarchy was being abolished all over the rest of Europe.
Her reign lasted for 70 years and 214 days. And by the time she passed away, hardly less than 10% of people questioned the need for the monarchy anymore. What did Queen Elizabeth II do that was so effective?
Making the whole world like her
Queen Elizabeth understood the power of silence. Over a period of 70 years, she has hardly done anything embarrassing or has made any gaffes. The biggest gaffe committed by her was when she was recorded saying how a Chinese delegate was rude.
70 years without any missteps requires a lot of discipline to not say what she feels. She let silence amplify her power and position. She never gave anyone a chance to not like her.
But beyond that, she understood the psychology of the masses. She understood how to make the public like her even when she could not let them know her thoughts. It starts with her being fashionable.
Do the clothes make the queen?
Queen Elizabeth is known for her fashion style. For wearing extremely bright solid coloured clothes. With bright decorative matching hats. Why did she wear clothes with such a strong colour palette? Because she wanted to be noticed. In any frame, she wanted to stand out.
She was shy. And yet, she wanted to be noticed. Why? Because she understood the power of being seen.
“I have to be seen to be believed” – Queen Elizabeth II
In 1953, during her coronation, she fought with the prime minister Winston Churchill to make sure her coronation was televised. She wanted to be seen. Because if people could not see her, how would they ever connect with her?
Be seen. Be believed. Be liked.
Queen Elizabeth understood what the psychologists now call the mere-exposure effect. People tend to develop preference for things merely because they are familiar with it.
If you see someone for the first time, you would be on your guard. But if you see them 15-20 times, your guard will go down. And you will like them – without knowing them.
Psychologist Robert Zajonc conducted one of the first experiments that proved the mere exposure effect. A group of people who didn’t know a word of Chinese were shown various Chinese words. Some words were shown more often to them. They were told that these words were adjectives. And were asked to give their opinion: did they think the adjectives were positive or negative?
The words shown more often to them were deemed to be positive.
Charles Goetzinger built up on this experiment to show that the mere exposure effect works with people too. Mere repeated exposure to people created a positive attitude towards them.
When people see you repeatedly, and you don’t give them a reason to dislike you, they will start liking you. Just because.
What if you are not the queen?
You are not the queen. The press won’t cover you everyday. So what do you do? You do what Joe Girard did.
Joe Girard earned the world record for selling the most number of cars. And he did this with a simple trick: he sent postcards to everyone he knew 13 times a year. The postcards simply said: I like you.
And the mere exposure effect worked for him. People read his name repeatedly. And believed him to sell a car without using sleazy sales tactics. And liked him. And bought from him.
Is there such a thing as too much exposure?
The one thing you have to be aware of is that over saturation is a thing. If you listen to a song a few times, your liking for the song deepens. But if you listen to it 40 times in a row, the song loses its charm. At some stage, over exposure backfires. So get in front of the people, but give them space too.
- Make sure people are exposed to your name or image repeatedly. Because people can’t build affection for you if they can’t see you.
- Don’t do anything that would make people dislike you. If you follow that rule, then mere exposure will make them like you more and more. You don’t even have to please them to be liked – you just have to exist.