Revisiting Cialdini’s Six Principles of Persuasion: Consistency

What do you call someone who says one thing, yet does another? Hypocrite. Liar. Flip-flopper. Politician. Teenager. Most of those terms aren’t considered glowing characteristic traits.

This is where Robert Cialdini’s third primary principle of persuasion comes in: consistency. (In other recent posts, I’ve covered Cialdini’s first two principles, reciprocity and scarcity.)

We like, trust and want to interact with people who follow through on what they say. When a co-worker tells you he’ll hand in a report by the close of business, you think highly of him when he does just that. If he doesn’t, that colleague’s credibility drops a notch. Similarly, when company management promises to make a change to a problematic tuition reimbursement policy that never comes, the culture in that organization shifts to the negative.

The good news is that these occurrences aren’t likely to happen. Why? Once most people make a decision or take a position, especially publicly, they strive to act in accordance with that publicly stated notion. This demonstrates consistency, and it has been proven time and time again.

Next time, I’ll explore what “liking” has to do with all of this.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, consider reading Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

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