we examined four points of influence, including the word w”Because,” Reciprocity, Contrast, and Pointing out the Negatives, and what you can do as a business leader to use them to your advantage. The points of influencer outlined in this conclusion to the series are Consistency and Association.
When an individual takes a position, he or she will defend their belief whether it is right or wrong. Have you ever been in an argument with somebody here after a while it just matters that you win the argument not what the argument was about in the first place? That’s an example of consistency, and here are a few more.
During the Korean War, American POWs who were in Chinese Communist detention camps were asked by their captors in discussion groups to make very mild anti-American statements – statements as mild as “the United States isn’t perfect.” It was hard to disagree with. Nobody’s perfect and the United States isn’t perfect either, and that statement seems hardly anti-American. But that was just the beginning. Once the POW made that statement and committed it to write it was easier for their captors to get them to agree to progressively influencer management more powerful statements. Like – “if you think that the United States isn’t perfect, can you create a list of way that the US isn’t perfect?” They invoked the law of consistency – because once a POW said that the US wasn’t perfect he ought to be able to come up with some reasons why to be consistent with what he said before. It’s an extremely powerful impulse and the Communist Chinese were in fact outstanding in exploiting this very human behavioral characteristic.
This phenomenon is known as the “foot in the door technique,” and its power was demonstrated in the mid-1960’s by Friedman and Frazier. A researcher went door-to-door in a residential California neighborhood and made an outrageous request of homeowners. They knocked on doors and asked if they could place a huge billboard on the front lawn with a public service announcement on it – something like “drive carefully.” Not surprisingly, 83% of the homeowners who were asked said “no.” Surprisingly though, people in another neighborhood had a very different response. In fact, 76% of them agreed to post these big billboards in their yard. The prime reason for their remarkable compliance had something to do with what happened two weeks before when they were asked to make a small commitment to driver safety. A different volunteer came to their door and asked them to display a small 3 inch square sign in their window that said “be a safe driver.” It was such a small request that nearly everybody agreed to it. But the effects were so enormous that when the outrageous request came along 2 weeks later – 76% agreed because of the consistency phenomenon. They would have felt internal conflict by not agreeing to the large request because they had already committed to and taken a stand on the issue in their compliance with the small request.
Are you seeking small commitments in advance of asking for larger ones? How are you using that in your process – to manage your people, to build relationships, and to close business? How can you get people to agree to things in principle and then use that to your advantage later?
We tend to like things that are endorsed by those we respect. There has been ample research in this area, as supported by the advertising industry’s love affair with celebrity spokespeople. Things like titles, clothing, trappings, and professions are clues we use to determine levels of respect and association. For example, when your doctor prescribes a horrible tasting medicine or one that upsets your stomach, you are going to comply with their request.
Do you remember when Robert Young (who played Dr. Marcus Welby on TV) was the pitchman for Sanka Coffee? In the ads, he said “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV,” and then proceeded to outline the benefits of drinking decaffeinated coffee. That was the double whammy of Association – a celebrity who also posed as a doctor. How effective do you think those ads were? You can bet – highly effective!
How can you use endorsements of your ideas and proposals to help earn compliance and agreement? Who can you recruit to endorse your ideas that will have credibility and the power of association with the decision-makers you want to influence?
Points of influence are learned behaviors, and we learn through repetition and practice. As with most things in life, these ideas are only useful if you take action and do something with them – not next week or next month, but today.
In this 3 article series, we examined six significant points of influence: the word “Because,” Reciprocity, Contrast, Pointing out the Negatives, Consistency, and Association. Pick a few concepts from this group of six and try them out – your results will speak for themselves!
Since founding Performance Dynamics Group in 2003, Mark Green has spoken to and consulted with thousands of business leaders to help them predictably convert the promise of strategic change into a reality of performance and results. His clients absolutely do not want yet another “flavor of the year” initiative — they want measurable and sustainable results.