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Friday, June 03, 2011

The Six Principles of Influence

Kathy- love the post about  Ken's presentation.  In the talk he mentions Dr. Robert Cialdini's
six principles of influence:

1. Reciprocation. People are more willing to comply with requests (for favors, services, information, concessions, etc.) from those who have provided such things first. 

2. Commitment/Consistency. People are more willing to be moved in a particular direction if they see it as consistent with an existing or recent commitment. Consider how small that commitment can be and still motivate change forcefully.

3. Authority. People are more willing to follow the directions or recommendations of a communicator to whom they attribute relevant authority or expertise.

4. Social Validation. People are more willing to take a recommended action if they see evidence that many others, especially similar others, are taking it.

5. Scarcity. People find objects and opportunities more attractive to the degree that they are scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability. Even information that is scarce is more effective.

6. Liking/Friendship. People prefer to say yes to those they know and like.

They struck a chord with me. I keep hearing from librarians who don't see themselves as "schmoozers" but when you start to look at the principles of influencing people, you can see that it's really just about building genuine relationships. Sure, the politicians have pumped these principles with steroids, but they can work effectively on a personal level. And as more and more headlines scream about the threats to library funding, no one in our field can ignore these principles.

As I read the list, I thought about a a director I know here in Jersey. Joe is a soft spoken man with an easy going personality.  When this guy walks through his town, he knows just about everyone he sees. And they know him.  Why? Because he has spent years building relationships. Not all at once, but over time, he has played a valuable role in just about every organization in town. He doesn't show up when he needs something, he comes to give. Time mostly, because let's face it, that's what most local organizations need. He likes these folks and they like him. He's their number one supporter. He offered space in his library for literacy volunteers and then added another space right next door for ESL classes. Before budget cuts started hitting his library hard, he invited influential community members to form an advocacy committee. They volunteered. He's on his way to ensuring a voice for his library will be at the table when budgets are being discussed.

Another director I know heard parents were worried about their kids not getting in college, so the library hired a part timer to help kids with the applications and essays. When he heard people talking about how complicated the funding process was, that same part timer started offering sessions to help parents understand how to apply for financial aid. When that part timer started working she didn't hang posters, she "hung out" and got to know the kids. She built trust and responded to their needs. She wasn't looking to push kids to come to a program to fill out a college application; she was pushing kids to talk about what their dreams were and pumping them up a bit with hope. She wasn't expecting a lot of kids; she just wanted a couple of influential members of the group. Once they were on board, she knew the rest would follow. 

My old boss spent 25 years working hand-in-hand with a freeholder to build one of the best county library systems in the country. Every time that freeholder saw her, he'd talk about her as if she was his "daughter." The libraries he fought to fund were his "babies." I think my boss felt the same way about him. Families work together to help each other.

Advocacy on a local level is tough is because it is all about building those relationships with people who may not be using our libraries or who may be in different social circles, but it's easier if we keep in mind that the connection is always the community.


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