Monday, April 5, 2010

Using the principles of social influence.

Post 459 - Robert B. Cialdini lists the following six universal principles of social influence:
- Reciprocation (we feel obligated to return favors performed for us),
- Authority (we look to experts to show us the way),
- Commitment/consistency (we want to act consistently with our commitments and values),
- Scarcity (the less available the resource, the more we want it),
- Liking (the more we like people, the more we want to say yes to them), and
- Social proof (we look to what others do to guide our behavior).

Another way of looking at this is to think of the following seven Cs as proven ways to influence behavior - caring, coaching, correcting, confirming, collaborating, clarifying, and conciliating.

Caring is contagious. It develops trust and is the foundation for the remainder of the seven Cs. A few ways to show care and concern in the workplace include: sending get-well cards when employees are out sick, greeting people by their first name and with a handshake, and being available to listen to personal problems.

If people are taught to care, coaching will follow. The most effective coaching involves demonstration and repetition - "show and tell" - through a trial-and-error process. The door is always left open for questioning and feedback. When employees feel supported, they're more open to learn directly and by observation. They also more likely to coach each other.

When people aren’t corrected, and employees realize that supervisors and peers will look the other way, dysfunctional unwritten norms are established and bad behavior continues. Managers and peers must learn how to stop dysfunctional behavior so it doesn’t continue.

When employees are corrected regularly, they need to repeatedly hear words of praise as well when they're observed to be working effectively. Managers need to be "hero-makers." This is also true for supervisors and peers.

When employees are regularly involved working together, there’s a greater sense of ownership, accomplishment and pride, especially when they’re successful. It follows that they must be given the knowledge they need in order to function as an effective group.

Goals and objectives should be regularly and clearly communicated as employees are more likely to work for what they've "bought into." Additionally, by clarifying their individual values, they can better align their own behavior with what's really important to them.

Unresolved conflict is distracting. It interferes with communications and drains individuals and organizations of energy. Strained working relationships lead to a decline in morale and work performance. Conflicts need to be identified and agreements met in order to establish unified direction toward a common goal.

These seven principles need to be continually emphasized so that in time, they become an ingrained practice, a part of the culture. In addition, as Dale Carnegie notes in the opening chapter of How to Win Friends and Influence People: "If you want personal happiness, and if you want to create great relationships, avoid the following three Cs - don't criticize, condemn, or complain."

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