This is part of a series of information/stories delivered from the INCREDIBLE book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini. If you work or live a life where you have to get people to do thing, Influence studies and explains the 6 most powerful forces to persuade people. No other book has been recommended to me more, by people smarter than both of us.
In short, they are:
2) Social proof
3) Commitment & Consistency
4) Liking: People prefer to say ” yes” to those they know
And they will be a game changer for you and your business.
Today we elaborate on Reciprocation.
Another application of The Power of Reciprocity is immediately following a denied request. When we have to tell someone know, we feel bad for them. So we want to do something to make them feel better.
For example, the Boy Scout who called on the author. He wasn’t to sell Cialdini $5 tickets to an even. Since the author had to interest in the event, he said No. Then the Boy Scout asked him to buy some $1 chocolate bars – which he also didn’t want. Of course he bought 2.
His request that I purchase some one-dollar chocolate bars had been put in the form of a concession on his part; it was presented as a retreat from his request that I buy some five-dollar tickets. If I were to live up to the dictates of the reciprocation rule, there had to be a concession on my part. As we have seen, there was such a concession: I changed from noncompliant to compliant when he changed from a larger to a smaller request, even though I was not really interested in either of the things he offered. It was a classic example of how a weapon of automatic influence can infuse a compliance request with its power. I had been moved to buy something not because of any favorable feelings toward the item, but because the purchase request had been presented in a way that drew force from the reciprocity rule.
We decided to try the technique on a request that we felt few people would agree to perform. Posing as representatives of the “County Youth Counseling Program,” we approached college students walking on campus and asked if they would be willing to chaperon a group of juvenile delinquents on a day trip to the zoo. The idea of being responsible for a group of juvenile delinquents of unspecified age for hours in a public place without pay was hardly an inviting one for these students. As we expected, the great majority (83 percent) refused. Yet we obtained very different results from a similar sample of college students who were asked the very same question with one difference.
Before we invited them to serve as unpaid chaperons on the zoo trip, we asked them for an even larger favor—to spend two hours per week as a counselor to a juvenile delinquent for a minimum of two years. It was only after they refused this extreme request, as all did, that we made the smaller, zoo-trip request. By presenting the zoo trip as a retreat from our initial request, our success rate increased dramatically. Three times as many of the students approached in this manner volunteered to serve as zoo chaperons.
Why should I feel a strain to reciprocate a concession? The answer rests once again in the benefit of such a tendency to the society. Thus the society must arrange to have these initial, incompatible desires set aside for the sake of socially beneficial cooperation. This is accomplished through procedures that promote compromise. Mutual concession is one important such procedure.
Because the rule for reciprocation governs the compromise process, it is possible to use an initial concession as part of a highly effective compliance technique. The technique is a simple one that we can call the rejection-then-retreat technique. Suppose you want me to agree to a certain request. One way to increase your chances would be first to make a larger request of me, one that I will most likely turn down. Then, after I have refused, you would make the smaller request that you were really interested in all along. Provided that you have structured your requests skillfully, I should view your second request as a concession to me and should feel inclined to respond with a concession of my own, the only one I would have immediately open to me compliance with your second request.
The requester’s concession within the technique not only causes targets to say yes more often, it also causes them to feel more responsible for having “dictated” the final agreement. Thus the uncanny ability of the rejection-then-retreat technique to make its targets meet their commitments becomes understandable: A person who feels responsible for the terms of a contract will be more likely to live up to that contract.