A mind blowing fact about communication

I am reading the book ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini. In the first chapter itself he has knocked my socks off. Quoting a small passage from the first chapter. Read till the end:

“A well-known principle of human behaviour says that when we ask someone to do us a favour, we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Langer demonstrated this unsurprising fact by asking a small favour of people waiting in line to use a library’s copying machine: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” The effectiveness of this request-plus-reason was nearly total: 94 percent of people let her skip ahead of them in line.

Compare this success rate to the results when she made the request only: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Under those circumstances, only 60 percent complied. At first glance, it appears the crucial difference between the two request was the additional information provided by the words because I am in a rush.

However, a third type of request showed this was not the case. It seems it was not the whole series of words but the first one, because, that made the difference. Instead of including a real reason for compliance, Langer’s third type of request used the word because and then, adding nothing new, merely restated the obvious: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” The result was again nearly all (93 percent agreed), even though no real reason, no new information was added to justify their compliance.”

Amazing isn’t it? So, will this new information change the way you make requests? Can it have any impact on your brand’s communication? Do leave a comment.


2 thoughts on “A mind blowing fact about communication

  1. Great observation. In my opinion, since human minds like reasons, the word “BECAUSE” seems to be persuasive, as whenever someone gives a reason, however obvious the reason may be, we are more prone to accept a request. “BECAUSE” acts as a trigger for certain behaviors, particularly favors or empathy.

    But it also depends on the other person’s traits and mindset. Some might be so insensitive that they won’t care for any reason given to them. It would be interesting to know if Robert Cialdini’s example of Xerox would provide similar positive results in other parts of the world (apnay Bharat mein) as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely agree with you Kunain. Yes, I had no clue on the importance of that word till now. It has made me see with a whole new level of respect now. In reply to your question – yes, I am sure the Xerox example will hold good in apna bharat as well. The exact data may or may not be different.


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