Remember Why You Like Me?

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

After a long job-seeking rejection streak, one of organizational psychologist Robert Cialdini’s clients started asking one simple question at the beginning of a job interview which immediately ended his rejection streak. This person went on to get better jobs in his next three interviews by simply getting the interviewers to remember why they asked him in for an interview in the first place. After telling the interviewers how happy he was to be asked in for an interview and that he was looking forward to answering all of their questions, he would then say he was curious about something and wondered if they might answer a question for him. Here’s how he put it:
“Why did you invite me here? What was it about my resume, my qualifications or my background that caused you to invite me in?”
The interviewers would then go through his resume and point out everything that had captured their attention, in effect re-committing to their original interest in him. From that point on, everything this candidate said in the interview exemplifying these valued qualities more often than not was rewarded with a positive comment. People like to be right in their judgments and consistent in their findings. That’s how we are.
This commitment and consistency strategy is what Cialdini calls the use of ethical persuasion. There are plenty of ways human nature can be played for the bad, but helping others remember the value you bring is not one of them. At least in the interview setting; it could get old if we were constantly “helping others remember our value,” which in this case wouldn’t be an ethical problem so much as an emotional intelligence one. (Luckily, we are a trainable species and can get better at EQ.)
Our value is all well and good but what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. It’s equally easy to get used to the good stuff someone in our life brings such that we just kind of stop seeing it; now all their wonderfulness gets incorporated into a baseline expectation and perhaps they become a wee bit ho-hum. Do you ever do that? I know I have. Then mercifully something happens to jolt me back into clear- sightedness. But how much better it would be to regularly “re-view” what made our people so wonderful to us in the first place?  
And so begins a brave new day,