Cruising with Influence

Quite a while ago, Jane and I went on a four-day, three-night, Royal Caribbean cruise. During the cruise we had a full day at sea which meant all the action was going to be poolside that day. Knowing that, we arrived at the pool extra early so we could grab a couple of lounge chairs poolside!

After a relaxing morning we decided to go play a bingo ticket because it was potentially worth $5000. The odds of winning were slim but scarcity – the fear of losing out on the chance for the big prize – motivated us to go to the bingo area.

A Sad Situation

We were only gone for about 30-45 minutes but when we got back to the pool, low and behold, people were laying on our chairs! I politely let them know they were sitting on our chairs, but they refused to move. I pointed out that the clothes, books, and other items they’d put at the foot of the chairs were ours and were obvious indicators the chairs were still being used.

Again, they refused to move so we called for a pool attendant. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t help us because he said we’d been gone more than 30 minutes. Suffice it to say, the exchange that took place over the loss of the poolside lounge chairs put a damper on the day.

Live and Learn 

The following year, after learning a thing or two about persuasion, we were able to avoid a repeat performance. On the same cruise line, we were facing the same situation; a day at sea and another early trip to the pool. 

As we enjoyed the morning a young couple took one of the last lounge chairs available, which happened to be next to us. While the wife leisurely stretched out and enjoyed the sun, her husband was relegated to sitting at the foot of the lounge chair as he read his book.

Tapping Into Consistency

When lunchtime rolled around, Jane and I decided to go to the schooner lounge to grab a bite to eat. Leary of coming back to lost chairs, I turned to the young couple and asked, “Would you mind watching our things because we want to grab some lunch?” As any nice couple would, they agreed.

By asking that question, I knew I’d tapped into consistency, the psychological pressure people feel when it comes to keeping their commitments. Once we’ve given our word, we feel good about ourselves when we keep it. How do you think that young couple would have felt if we’d come back to find strangers stretched out on our chairs? If they’re like most people they’d feel bad and nobody wants to feel that way.

Next Came Reciprocity

After they agreed to watch our chairs, I told the young man he was welcome to stretch out on one of our chairs while we were gone, which he was eager to do. Because I’d given him something reciprocity was now at play, the feeling of obligation to give back to someone who’s given to us. Having given him use of our chairs, I knew he’d be much more likely to make sure no one tried to take our spot.

I got a double whammy for my efforts by engaging consistency and reciprocity. What you’ll find is quite often it’s possible to bring multiple influence principles to bear in a situation and when you do so it significantly increases the odds of hearing someone say “Yes” when you make a request.

A Happy Ending

As you might expect, we enjoyed our lunch and returned to the pool later to find our lounge chairs waiting for us which made for a pleasant afternoon! 

I’m a firm believer that knowing how to ethically influence people is a critical skill for professional success and personal happiness. We certainly had a happy ending that day.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

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