Be Careful What You Wish For: What Happens When a Progressive Idea Goes Too Far

It was a textbook case of what some might call “big government” and what others might cite as a great example of the reason government exists. Now, the progressive administration of the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, is taking heat from the usual suspects but also has managed to raise the ire of its base. Why the misstep? What could city officials have done differently?

Reciprocity: To get, you gotta give.

Quality stuff has staying power. (Just queue up nearly any Beatles song.) Despite the reams and reams of paper offering advice and research on how to get someone to do something, it’s the material that surfaces again and again that warrants the attention. So it could be said about Dr. Robert B. Cialdini’s 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In it, Cialdini offers six principles of persuasion: reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity. As you read it, you may discover a lot about how getting people on your side shares similarities with developing a friendship: getting someone to like you, getting them to trust you and generally getting them believing that having a relationship with you is far preferable to not having one. In this post, we’ll explore reciprocity. We’ll take up the other five principles in subsequent posts.