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How and Why People Agree to Things
This is a brief summary of some of the reasons we agree. Perhaps you want to become more persuasive or perhaps you want to discover why you are so easily persuaded. Let’s examine some reasons.

We each try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. Favors have a tendency to produce a feeling of indebtedness. There is also a feeling of obligation to make a concession to someone who has first made a concession to us. If you are treated to lunch, what do you say? “I’ll buy next time. " Right? If someone says, “Okay, I’ll ride in the backseat. ", you may feel compelled to say, “Okay, we’ll listen to the station you wanted to hear. " It’s only fair, we feel.

A variation on this is “rejection-then-retreat". This involved asking for a large request (“Would you donate $25 to my scout troop?"), getting turned down, then retreating to a smaller request (“That’s okay — would you buy a candy bar for $2.00?"). The smaller request is much more likely to be approved.

All of this falls under the heading of reciprocity — the tendency to feel obligated to repay in kind.

Commitment and Consistency
Once we make a choice or take a stand, we will feel pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. This is sometimes referred in sales as the “head bobbing dog in the rear window" approach. Starting with small (seemingly harmless) requests (“This is a great ride, isn’t it?"). Agreement can increase the chance that we will feel compelled to agree with the next larger request (“Would you like me to run up a few figures on that? It’s no problem. ). As the head bobs up and down in agreement we feel a need to continue to agree or seem inconsistent.

An even stronger example of this can be seen if you can get someone to write out a belief or commitment. When we write things in our own hand, it seems very important that we support what we have written.

Social Proof
This is the “herd mentality" idea that the more we see others doing something, the more likely we will do it. An action seems more correct if others are doing it. The greater the number of people who find an idea correct, the more the idea will seem to be correct.

We have a tendency to be persuaded by those we like. Think about how the references of friends may persuade us. Liking can include physical attractiveness, similarity of background or interests, compliments, and long periods of contact with others.

Our need to conform to the dictates of authority figures may seem to have practical advantage. We are also susceptible to symbols of authority such as a title, clothing, the car someone drives, a uniform or other badge of office.

An opportunity seems more valuable to us when that opportunity is limited in availability. This is where we get things like “limited time offer", “call within the next 10 minutes", or “This is the last one in this color and size".

This is one of the factors that has made e-bay successful — I want this and there are not many of them.

So if you want to BE more influential work to see how you can incorporate these ideas into your life. If you want to be LESS swayed by others, examine yourself for your susceptibility to these ways of thinking.


Hal Warfield is a speaker, teacher and coach. Contact him at . Or read other self-development articles at .


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