The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Commitment and Consistency'?

Commitments are a way of binding people together.

Breaking a promise can have a negative impact on someone's Reputation, so people usually try to maintain Consistency with their previous positions and promises.

Obtain a small commitment, and you'll get more compliance from your customers.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Commitment and Consistency'

A few months ago, Kelsey received a phone call from our alma mater, asking for a donation.

Here's the twist: they didn't ask for the donation outright.

Instead, they asked if she'd be "willing to donate money to the university in the future." Thinking nothing of it, she agreed-and promptly forgot about the call.

Shortly before we moved from New York to Colorado, an official-looking "invoice" for $150 rom the university appeared in the mail.

It said, "here is your $150 commitment-you can send your check via the enclosed envelope." Money was tight, since we were paying for movers, buying cars, and purchasing furniture-but Kelsey sent the check anyway. After all, she promised, right? No one wants to be considered an "oath breaker."

Commitments have been used throughout history as a way of binding groups together. Breaking a promise or commitment can often have a negative impact on social status and Reputation, so most people will do whatever they can to act in ways that are Consistent with previous positions and promises.

Even small commitments make it more likely for individuals to take actions consistent with that commitment in the future. One of my favorite stores about commitment comes from Michael Masterson, the author of Ready, Fire, Aim.

On a trip to India, Masterson visited a rug merchant. He entered the shop with a healthy level of skepticism and absolutely no intention of buying anything-he was just interested in the experience. The rug merchant was an excellent salesman, and relied on two primary strategies.

To break down Masterson's skepticism, he used stories (Narrative) of past sales to encourage Masterson to like and Trust him before the selling began. Then, he used Commitment: whenever Masterson so much as looked at a rug, the proprietor would have his staff take it down off the racks to examine it closely. The rugs were heavy, and it was clear that the sales staff were working so hard on his behalf.

By making a small Commitment-expressing interest in a particular rug- Masterson provoked a flurry of action.

As the minutes passed, it became difficult for Masterson to imagine leaving without purchasing a rug-it would be inconsistent with the interest he'd expressed and the work the proprietors staff were doing for him. The least he could do was Reciprocate-how could he tell them no? In the end, he purchased a rug for $8,200, and walked away a happy customer.

Obtaining small Commitments makes it more likely people will choose to act consistently with them later. Salespeople are often taught to do what they can to encourage their customers to start saying "yes" as soon as possible. By getting a "foot in the door," they increase the probability their prospect will take further action.

That's why so many activists use opening questions like "do you care about child safety?" or "do you care about the environment?" when telemarketing or collecting signatures on a petition. Most people do care about these things, so the reply is automatic and swift. Once you've said you care about something, however, it would be rude of you to refuse their request-it's inconsistent with your previous statement.

Obtain a small commitment, and you'll make it far more likely that others will comply with your request.

Questions About 'Commitment and Consistency'


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


From Chapter 8:

Working With Others


https://personalmba.com/commitment-consistency/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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