“I have found that the best way to get another to acquire a virtue, is to impute it to him” – Winston Churchill
Do you want to get your husband to lose weight? Do you want your mechanic to do the best repair job possible on your car and for the best price? Do you want your employees to work extra hard to try and please you? One simple technique can accomplish this. It is the technique of giving the other person a reputation to live up to. Let me share with you a story and some examples:
California Adventure Story
A number of years ago I took my family on a trip to California to visit my relatives and see some of the sights. Sorry to say, our car had other plans. When we arrived at my aunt’s house the car began overheating. Steam was pouring out from under the hood.
My aunt knew what to do. You see, she was a master at the technique I’m about to teach you today. She told us she had a mechanic that would take care of us. Unfortunately it was a Saturday and her mechanic shop was closed. Somehow she got the mechanic’s home phone number and called him. I remember very clearly how she talked with her mechanic. She talked about what a fantastic mechanic he was and how he had never let her down and how she loved to take her business to him because of his great service. Somehow, someway, she ended up persuading him to meet us at his shop to take a look at our car.
We went to the shop and she again talked with her mechanic like she had before, but did it in front of me and my wife. Then, in front of the mechanic, she told me and my wife what a great mechanic he was and that he will for sure take care of us and that he always charges a fair price. She went on and on about it.
I was amazed to watch this mechanic bend over backwards for us after that. He dropped his Saturday plans and went to work on our car. He found that our car needed a new radiator. So he made several phone calls and got one delivered right away. He worked very hard to install it and got our car running again. It was truly amazing how this all happened.
If my aunt had used the usual approach, the mechanic would have simply told us they were closed on Saturday and to bring the car in on Monday and they would look at it then. Instead, my aunt persuaded her mechanic in a positive way by using the technique of giving him a reputation to live up to.
Let’s suppose you are the head of the software development department of your company and the company president has an important project he wants done. You decide you will assign your employee Bob to handle the project. However, you’re worried that Bob may not do the best job possible. So you decide to use this great persuasion technique.
You arrange a meeting with the company president where you and Bob go over the details of the project with him. As the meeting is about to conclude you say to the company president, “You don’t have to worry about a thing. There is nobody better than Bob at being able to take on a challenge like this. He’s one of my best programmers and I know he will be able to complete this project quickly and efficiently.” You go on and on with the company president about what a great programmer Bob is.
Now, do think for one minute that Bob is going to mess up on this project? Here he was praised and built up right in front of the company president. If this is how his boss thinks of him there is no way he is going to let him down. He now has a reputation to live up to, and he will!
Let’s explore dealing with your children. Suppose your son is being mean to his sister and you need to correct him. Instead of beating him up verbally and telling him what a bad person he is, try this:
“Son, I just don’t understand it. You are normally one of the kindest boys I’ve known. It’s just not like you to act this way. I’m so surprised. I’m sure you won’t do this again because you’re just not that way.”
So now your son thinks, “Wow, my dad thinks that about me and now look what I’ve done, I’ve let him down.” He’s going to try extra hard to not let you down in the future because now you’ve given him a reputation to live up to.
Let’s suppose that your husband has gained a little weight and he isn’t in quite the shape that you know he could be. You could say:
“Gee honey, you’ve put on a few pounds lately. Maybe you shouldn’t eat so much. You know you really ought to get out and get some exercise.”
How is that going to make him feel? Is it going to make him want to go right out and start exercising and eating right? Not hardly. It’s going to make him feel horrible! First of all he is going to justify why he is the way he is. And then he’s going to fight against it. It’s human nature.
Or you could use the other approach of giving him a reputation to live up to. When he comes home from work you give him a big hug and say:
“Gosh, you look so good today! Have you lost weight? You’ve been working out, haven’t you? I’m so glad you’re not like all my friend’s husbands. They just let themselves go and are so huge. Thanks for working so hard at keeping yourself fit and trim.”
Now, I’m not advocating lying. What I’m advocating is looking for the positive and accentuating it.
You can imagine which approach you would prefer if you were on the receiving end? Which would motivate you more to change? As you can see, giving the other person a reputation to live up to is an excellent tool for positive persuasion. I challenge you to try this technique over the next week and see what results you get.
Let me know how it goes by sharing your comments below.