Tag Archive for: The Godfather

Influencers from Around the World – The Happiness Hypothesis

This month’s Influencers from Around the World article is from Cathrine Moestue. I introduced you to Cathrine last month along with Anthony McLean as new members of my Influencers from Around the World group. I know you’ll enjoy Cathrine’s exploration of reciprocity, especially those of you who are fans of The Godfather. I encourage you to reach out to Cathrine on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter.Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.The Happiness HypothesisI don’t know if you have read The Happiness Hypothesis but if you haven’t, then I recommend it. It is an extraordinary book on the human condition and writing about such you cannot miss out on the work of Robert Cialdini, PhD. Dr. Cialdini is the most cited living social psychologist in the world today and famous for his book Influence Science and Practice, where he enlightens readers on the six principles of influence.In The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt dedicates the whole of chapter three to one of the principles; the principle of reciprocity. He opens up the chapter and our understanding of reciprocity with a scene from The Godfather that I thought would give us a vivid understanding of reciprocity. Even though the scene is about “reciprocity with a vengeance” it is extraordinary how easy it is for us to understand this complex interaction in an alien subculture. The opening scene of The Godfather is an exquisite portrayal of reciprocity in action. It is the wedding day of the daughter of the Godfather, Don Corleone. The Italian immigrant Bonasera, an undertaker, has come to ask for a favor; he wants to avenge an assault upon the honor and body of his daughter, who was beaten by her boyfriend and another young man.Bonasera describes the assault, the arrest, and the trial of the two boys. The judge gave them a suspended sentence and let them go free that very day. Bonasera is furious and feels humiliated; he has come to Don Corleone to ask that justice be done. Corleone asks what exactly he wants. Bonasera whispers something into his ear, which we can safely assume is “Kill them.” Corleone refuses, and points out that Bonasera has not been much of a friend until now. Bonasera admits he was afraid of getting into “trouble.” The dialogue continues:CORLEONE: I understand. You found paradise in America; you had a good trade, made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. And you didn’t need a friend like me. But now you come to me and say, “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even call me Godfather. Instead you come into my house on the day that my daughter is to be married, and ask me to do murder for money.BONASERA: I ask for justice.CORLEONE: That is not justice; your daughter is still alive.BONASERA: Let them suffer then, as she suffers. (pause) How much shall I pay you?CORLEONE: Bonesera…Bonesera…What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you had come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would be my enemies. And then they would fear you.BONASERA: Be my friend. (bows) Godfather? (kisses Corleone’s hand)CORLEONE: Good. (pause) Someday and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day…accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.We intuitively understand why Bonasera wants the boys killed, and why Corleone refuses to do it. We understand that in accepting a “gift” from a mafia don, a chain, not just a string, is attached. We understand all of this effortlessly because we see the world through the lens of reciprocity. Reciprocity is a deep instinct; it is the basic currency of social life.Bonasera uses it to buy revenge and Corleone to manipulate Bonasera into joining his extended family, the consequences of both will be detrimental. But we can learn how to use the principle of reciprocity wisely by first understanding it and second to practice becoming more of a “detective” of influence, not just a bungler or a smuggler. The extraordinary truth is that if we learn to use the principle ethically and understand how to properly invest in others, we will also be more effective in life.Sounds interesting? I recommend attending a “Principle of Persuasion” workshop, or reading Cialdini’s book on Influence Science and Practice.Zigong asked: “Is there any single word that could guide one’s entire life? The master said: “Should it not be reciprocity? What you do not wish for yourself, do not do unto others.”
– Analects of ConfuciusCathrine Moestue, CMCT
Organizational Psychologist