Boost Your Job-Hunt With Positive Commitments

Aug 3, 2011 by

Boost Your Job-Hunt With Positive Commitments

The persuasion of Professor R Cialdini.

My journey to work, though a relatively short one, is often spent with the most interesting company. A recent guest was one Professor Robert Cialdini, who appeared on the Today Programme last week. Professor Cialdini, for those of you who might not have encountered him before, is a world-renowned authority in the fields of persuasion, compliance and negotiation. He recently featured in the news for his work at a doctors surgery in Bedford, where he reduced their ‘no shows’ by 30%.

Effective persuasion at zero cost.

If the effect of Professor Cialdini’s work in Bedford were repeated across the country it would save the NHS millions, so you you might wonder how he did it…

The beauty of his methods is that they are of no cost and have immediate impact. In this particular case, patients had been used to receiving appointment cards with the date and time of their appointments written on the card for them. Handing patients a card, asking them to write their appointment time on themselves and getting them to reaffirm their ability to attend the appointment caused an immediate reduction in the number of ‘no shows’. Removing a sign in the waiting room which had the legend ‘67 patients missed their appointments last month’ and changing the legend to ‘95% of patients attended their appointments last month’ produced the same effect. The reason, according to Professor Cialdini, is that people are more likely to follow a commitment they have made rather than one they have been given.

Convert networking contacts to commitments.

Can we apply Cialdini’s methods to our advantage in networking?

I think we probably can though we may need to be careful in our choice of language.

If when we are networking somebody casually mentions that a colleague of theirs or an acquaintance is recruiting for a role you may have good experience for, try to seek a commitment on their part. “I will mention your background to my colleague” or “I will ask our HR manager to give you a call” are much stronger than “I’ll mention it if I get the chance”.

There is obviously a danger here that you can become too pushy. Nonetheless it is worth mentioning that the stronger the commitment you get the more likely it is that the commitment will be met.

Recommended reading for effective networkers…

There are many things we can all do to improve our powers of persuasion and influence, and if you are on a job hunt at the moment ‘Influence: Science and Practice’ by Professor Robert Cialdini might well be worth putting on your reading list. Tom Peters said of the book “if everything were on the line and negotiation, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have advising me that Bob Cialdini” Happy reading.

How do you network?

If you’re open to sharing your experiences and thoughts, or want to share what you’ve learnt about networking with other job-hunters, why not get in touch or post your thoughts in the comments box below?


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