Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Before I start my third topic on persuasion I have a confession. I am sorry to say that my overly confident claim of posting everyday for seven days has proven to be at best broken promise and at worse disingenuous. I will do my best in future to commit less to post timings if I am not certain I can make them. For the next Three I will just post when I can… Well apology made and back to the topic at hand…


The third in my series on persuasion is very powerful method and one which you may find familiar. Its called ‘Reciprocity’ and its essentially the feeling that you must pay back a favour or gift. That is, when you give something to someone, that person will almost always feel obligated to give you something back. The sense of reciprocity is so strong that in research studies where one person treated people nicely and the other person treated the same people poorly but gave them something (lets say offered them a Coke), these people were more likely to do something for the person who treated them poorly!!. Therefor reciprocity is one of the most powerful persuasion techniques that anyone can employ.

As with the last few posts I will provide with a real life example

Amway distributors came upon the idea of giving prospects a package of product samples — cleaners, deodorizers, insect killers, and so on — which they call the BUG. The distributor leaves a BUG with a homeowner for up to 3 days. No cost or obligation. All they ask is that the homeowner try out the products.

Later, the representative comes back to pick up the BUG and ask for orders. Having been given products to sample in such a generous way, the sense of obligation is overwhelming, and many homeowners order products on the spot. One Amway distributor reported that the response was “Unbelievable! We’ve never seen such excitement. Product is moving at an unbelievable rate (Credit for this example from Dean Rieck Link)


Reciprocity is a powerful influence technique.  While this looks fairly simple (providing a favour for one in return) seems fairly straight forward to us all. As always in this series of posts I urge you to consider how these techniques are being used on you in everyday life, and if you are willing… how you may use this on others.


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