+Scott Watson

Monday, 2 August 2010

Cialdini's Influence Principles Aren't Just for the Business Arena

So, this isn't the usual kind of blog post. As you know, many, if not all of my posts relate directly to the corporate arena. But this one is different. Perhaps very different - in terms of subject, and also in terms of how to apply the wonderful principles and teaching of Professor Robert Cialdini (influence and persuasion), to a rather distasteful subject. The subject that is so distasteful?

Dog Mess!

Now, if the subject hasn't put you off, stick with me on this as I'll quickly demonstrate how to apply Cialdini's principles to under-pressure and often under-resourced local government officials who are charged with keeping our neighbourhood safe and streets clean.

A quick re-cap of Cialdini's principles

1. Reciprocity - you help me, now I'm obliged to return a favour to you

2. Commitment and Consistency - If you say you'll do it - do it! Keep your commitments

3. Social Proof - People will generally do what they see other people doing/or not doing

4. Authority - People tend to comply (willingly or otherwise) with those who are in authority

5. Liking - People are more influenced by people that they like.

6. Scarcity - People tend to want more of something when it is becoming scarce.

Straight to the point. Who do you fear the most, or at least far less likely to be offensive to?

a. Police Officer (a real one, not a 'hobby bobby')

b. Dog Warden (in full uniform)

Let me guess, you went for option A. Why? Possibly because a police officer has far more influence. Not just the individual, but the uniform that he or she wears represents AUTHORITY.And however much, or however little someone respects authority, the police offer has the right, and power to encourage or insist on compliance with the law. Another point is that if a police officer actually arrests you for an offence, you're far less likely to enjoy the experience.

Indeed, encouraging irresponsible dog owners to clean up the mess that their pet just made shouldn't be all that difficult if Cialdini's principles are applied effectively and consistently. Whilst people generally COMPLY with authority, they only comply when somebody is observing them - not afterwards. One example is spotting speeding drivers quickly slow down when they notice a speed camera...and then speed off when they are out of the cameras range.

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