Reader Friday – Influence and Reciprocation

How to win friends and influence people.

How to make friends and sell your books.

I recently heard of Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, from a David Gaughran blog post. He discussed the book in the context of newsletters and convincing readers to take action. The book looks at the six facets of influence obtained from clinical research. The first is “reciprocation” – that nature and nurture character trait that makes us want to return the favor when someone does something for us or gives us something, including exceptional service.

Have you ever experienced service so exceptional that you wanted to give back something of value, as a way of saying “Thank you?” My wife and I experienced that Monday. We were sitting in our local branch of a large Ohio bank. Another bank we had used for decades had “merged” with yet a third bank, telling us that nothing would change, then began trickling out the truth. When we learned that basically we had to start all over with new accounts, new account numbers, and new checks, we decided it was time to move.

Our appointment with Jordan, our bank representative, was at 1:00. She was behind, still answering questions for a couple she was helping. The door was open, and from where we sat I could hear that a good discussion was taking place. And that’s a good thing. From my experience in a service profession, I’ve learned that people want you to give them your time and attention. They don’t want you looking at your watch, trying to hurry them out the door.

We waited patiently, knowing that Jordan would take time to answer our questions when our turn came. She ushered us into her office about ten minutes late, and did just that. Thorough, patient, going the extra mile. She must have read How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

When we finished, I realized that I wanted to give her a hand-crafted pen I had in my pocket and my writer’s card. She drooled politely over the pen, and listened patiently as I explained how she could go to my website and sign up for my newsletter, where she would find monthly opportunities to win other “legacy pens.”

We shook hands, then parted. But standing outside the door, and practically blocking our exit, stood an unhappy customer whom we had kept waiting ten minutes for her appointment. The unhappy one had apparently never read Dale Carnegie’s book and had the fiercest glare I had seen for a while, except in the movies. I said, “I’m sorry.” But the dragon kept her anger focused on Jordan.

My wife and I slipped out of the danger zone and determined that we would return for our next appointment with brownies and another pen.

  • Have you recently experienced service so excellent that you wanted to give back? Please tell us about it.
  • Or, have you met a dragon recently whose fiery breath you narrowly escaped? Change the name and the pronouns and tell us how you escaped.

And, Jordan, if you’re reading this, hang in there. You’re appreciated! And the next time the dragon comes visiting, hold out a plate (and a fire extinguisher) and say, “Would you like a brownie?”




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