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:

1) Reciprocation

2) Social proof

3) Commitment & Consistency

4) Liking: People prefer to say ” yes” to those they know

5) Authority

6) Scarcity

And they will be a game changer for you and your business.

Today we elaborate on Consistency.


Not all commitments affect self-image, however. There are certain conditions that should be present for a commitment to be effective in this way.  Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds. Observers trying to decide what a man is like look closely at his actions.  the man himself uses this same evidence to decide what he is like. His behavior tells him about himself; it is a primary source of information about his beliefs and values and attitudes.

Writing was one sort of confirming action that is used.   This is why my dentist office has me address my own appointment confirmation card.  I will recognize my own handwriting as a commitment to be here.

A second advantage of a written testament is that it can be shown to other people. Of course, that means it can be used to persuade those people. It can persuade them to change their own attitudes in the direction of the statement. But more important for the purpose of commitment, it can persuade them that the author genuinely believes what was written.  People have a natural tendency to think that a statement reflects the true attitude of the person who made it. What is surprising is that they continue to think so even when they know that the person did not freely choose to make the statement.

For example, one study found that after hearing that they were considered charitable people, New Haven, Connecticut, housewives gave much more money to a canvasser from the Multiple Sclerosis Association.

Apparently the mere knowledge that someone viewed them as charitable caused these women to make their actions consistent with another’s perception of them.

Once an active commitment is made, then, self-image is squeeze from both sides by consistency pressures. From the inside, there is a pressure to bring self-image into line with action. From the outside, there is a sneakier pressure—a tendency to adjust this image according to the way others perceive us. And because others see us as believing what we have written (even when we’ve had little choice in the matter), we will once again experience a pull to bring self-image into line with the written statement.

Other compliance professionals also know about the committing power of written statements. The enormously successful Amway Corporation, for instance, has hit upon a way to spur their sales personnel to greater and greater accomplishments. Members of the staff are asked to set individual sales goals and commit themselves to those goals by personally recording them on paper: One final tip before you get started: Set a goal and write it down.