It’s absolutely true, I really do believe this is the day. It’s certainly my earliest memory of consciously using persuasion on someone else to increase the chances that they’d do what I thought was a good idea.
Who did I persuade? My Mum.
I was 9 years old and we were living in a little town called Cramlington in Northumberland (the oft forgotten broder county where England meets Scotland)
I managed to get my Mum to agree (sorry Mum) to let me put the chocolates and sweets that she was nagging (yes you were!) me to take to my room, on the dining table.
This is a conquest for a 9-year-old who just wanted to finish the next level of Mario Bros on the Nintendo.
I used what I now call a ‘Consistency Lock’. Here is what happened.
My Mum asked of I’d take all of the sweets from under the tree and move them to my bedroom.
9-year-old Kennedy didn’t want to. So what I said was, “could I put them on the table like you did last year?”.
It is the latter part of this phrase that is important. By comparing the action to something my Mum had done the previous year, Mum was bound by her own need to be Consistant.
Us humans look down on the idea of inconsistency, we distrust people who change their minds or talk about others behind their backs. We favour people who do what they say, on time in the way we expect.
What’s more, in studies conducted by Prof. Robert Cialdini we have even higher expectations of ourselves to be consistant.
Back to the situation with Mother Kennedy, by asking the question “like you did last year” reminds her that in the past she performed an action, and if she is to remain true and consistant, she should acknowledge it being the ‘right’ thing to do, by agreeing to let me do the same.
Did I plan this persuasive interaction with my Mum? At the age of 9, are you kidding me? Of course not. But I do remember it and started to research why that situation played out the way it did.
We are all persuading people, it might not be with the intention of letting us do something we want to do, but it may be that we are influencing someone’s belief about us.
For example, in just this one blog post I’m certain there are many things I’ve persuaded you of; that I lived with my mother when I was 9 years old, we celebrate Christmas, I understand persuasion, to name but a few.
You see, it’s impossible for us not to be communicating and thus influencing other people’s beliefs and views. We’re doing it all the time. Whether you’re conscious of it or not. The question is, are the things you’re persuading people about things you want, or things you do not want?