Influence and Persuasion – How to get people to happily do what you want

Expert AdviceFind yourself looking to get more out of your conversations and meetings? Ever feel like it’s all give, give, give? Under pressure to get more leads? Want to be able to gain more exclusivity with clients? Then this is for you. A powerful method to create greater influence. On top of that, it is very difficult for the other person to resist and it will actually create greater loyalty in your customers.

First, let me tell you a true story:

In 1985 Ethiopia was experiencing terrible droughts and was suffering on a mass scale. It’s economy was in ruins and it’s inhabitants were dying in the hundreds of thousand from disease and starvation. The world was compelled to help Ethiopia led by Bob Geldof and Live Aid. At the same time, though much less publicised, was a terrible earthquake in Mexico. Governments around the world also sent aid to Mexico, although much of the press and charitable aid at the time revolved around the famine in Ethiopia. One aid donation sent to Mexico City was for $5,000 from the Native officials of the Ethiopian Red Cross. Why? Despite the enormous needs prevailing in Ethiopia the money had been sent to Mexico because the Mexican government had sent financial aid to Ethiopia in 1935 when it was invaded by Italy.

There, in all it’s glory, is one of the most powerful tools of persuasion. Reciprocity; (You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours). Such is the power of this unwritten and oft unspoken rule. How often have you felt obliged to do something because someone did something for you, no matter how trivial? How many people do we see recommending someone on Linkedin because they felt obliged to return the favour? (This may also make you reconsider some of the recommendations you have read and see how many were returned “in favour”. Then ask yourself, who did it first, as they meant it, and who, perhaps, returned the favour under the feeling of obligation to reciprocate??).

Many years ago I first read, and continue to reread it to this day, an excellent book that looks at the science behind Persuasion and Influence. Dr Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, the psychology of persuasion is a 35 year study of what moves people to change behaviour and it it he sites Reciprocation as being one of the most powerful weapons (yes, weapons) for persuasion. If you haven’t read it, get it, read it, digest it and use it!

Here’s the really good thing about using reciprocity: It makes you provide a better service to your customers, because you have to, if you are to use this powerful driver. I.e. you need to do something for someone before you ask for something back! So, just think for a minute, when was the last time I did something for somebody and when was the last time I deliberately asked for something back, there and then, in return? Working in this way as a consultant creates a symbiotic relationship with customers. Both parties benefit. Perhaps if enough recruiters took this on board the parasite reputation of some could be shed. See, in my opinion it is the doing something for the customer (candidates in particular) that is missing and much more of a take, take, take attitude from the consultant dealing with them.

To get you started, here’s an example, where we are joining a phone call part way through where a consultant is arranging an interview for a candidate that we shall call Bob:

Consultant: “…so you’re definitely available for that date and time? Great! Now that I have secured you one of the 3 interviews on that job, maybe you can help me?”

Bob: “Er, yeah sure, what can I do for you?”

Consultant: “Well, there’s this particular role I am working on that’s X, Y and Z. Tell me, Bob.. Who have you worked with in the past who may be suitable?”

Can you feel the creation of obligation and reciprocation? What created it? Yes! It was framing the request first. Explain what you have done to help someone, then get an agreement that they will help you with “maybe you can help me?” Once agreed it is difficult for someone taciturn. Then ask away for what ever you want (footnote: what you request needs to be realistic compared to what you have done for them!!). Think about how many times you have done something for someone and not asked for something back! Now is the time to redress the balance.

Make this part of your day to day routine. Do something for someone then ask for something in return. The hardest part? Having a creative and flexible enough list of things to ask for. As a billing consultant and manager I always had a written list of things I could ask for that numbered around 25/30 different things from both clients and candidates. Try it, you may surprise yourself!

Take a look at these other pieces of advice from Recruitment Dad:

Why Recruiters SHOULD love their candidates

How to break PSL’s – read this before your competitors do!

Lead Conversion – An 8 step process to increase success


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4 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the advice. can you have a look at my resume?

    Rob 27 April 2010 at 1:38 am Permalink
  2. Hi Rob – Glad you found the advice useful. You are more than welcome to send me your CV and I can cast a critical eye over it! Use the contact email addresses on the contact page!

    RecruitmentDad 28 April 2010 at 8:47 am Permalink
  3. i really appreciate this…

    Damien Mouzoun 26 July 2011 at 10:12 am Permalink
  4. It reminded me of how I did years back on reciprocity, but I lost it as time pass. Good reminder for me. Read some other articles you wrote too, sharing unconditionally, totally inspiring. A big thank you!

    Hope you can continue to write.

    Justin 25 January 2013 at 3:47 am Permalink

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