The smooth-talking chatbot has dubious merchandise but textbook sales technique

Sam Cooper

Better Programming

Photo by James A. Molnar on Unsplash

Ask ChatGPT what it thinks of your latest big idea, and — unless your plan is actually dangerous or immoral — you’ll almost certainly be met with a positive response.

Planning a trip to the end of the backyard? ChatGPT agrees that “exploring your own garden can be a delightful adventure!” and offers a list of tips to help you make it a memorable experience. Want to start a book about your most boring item of clothing? “Certainly! Writing a novel about gray socks can be an interesting endeavor.”

What wouldn’t you give to have a friend so interested in your work and supportive of your every idea?

Much has already been written about ChatGPT’s skill at producing responses that sound fluent and convincing. The Register described it as “Dunning–Kruger As-a-Service,” thanks to the way it can successfully mimic expertise in areas it knows nothing about.

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias stemming from the knowledge it takes to be aware that you’re bad at something is more or less the same as the knowledge it takes to actually be good at it. Ask ChatGPT a factual question you don’t already know the answer to, and you’ve no way of knowing whether its answer is right or not.

But confidence will only get you so far. After all, nobody likes a know-it-all. A self-assured smart-aleck eager to shower you with facts about any subject you give them? Sounds like exactly the sort of person you’d avoid at a party. So why do people keep coming back to ChatGPT? Stylish plausibility alone isn’t enough to explain its colossal success.

To be genuinely interested in other people is a most important quality for a salesperson to possess — for any person, for that matter.

The quote comes from one of the best-selling books in history: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936). Carnegie’s message is that listening attentively to others and showing interest in what they say is the fastest and most effective way to build a positive relationship with them.

Source link