Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Asking a Little Goes a Long Way

At 5'7", I'm very familiar with the phrase "Good things come in small packages." I've never felt my height (or lack thereof) was a detriment to any phase of my life. Thinking big by going small is a powerful concept.

Consider the following scenario: you are asking colleagues to support a favorite charity of yours. Even though many would genuinely like to support the charity in some way say no because they can't afford to donate very much and they assume the small amount they can afford won't do very much to help the cause.

Researchers put this hypthosis to the test, going door to door to ask for contributions to the American Cancer Society. After introducing themselves, they asked the residents, "Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?" For half of the residents, the request ended there. For the other half, however, the research assistants added, "Even a penny will help."

Analysis of the results found that a penny's worth of ask was worth a pound of persuasive gold. People in the "even a penny will help: condition were almost twice as likely as those in the other condition to donate to the cause.

There are several applications for the "even a penny will help" approach:
  • To friends and members regarding participation in a community project, "Just an hour of your time would really help."
  • To a colleague whose handwriting is illegible, "Just a little more clarity would help."
  • To a busy prospective client whose needs must be more fully understood "Even a brief phone call would help."
The chances are that this little step in your direction won't prove so little after all.

The above information came from a great book entitled "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive." Authors Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin reveal simple but remarkably effective strategies that will make you much more persuasive at work and in your personal life.

This week I am looking at some of my favorite examples of persuasion from the book. Here are the posts from Monday and Tuesday.

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