From these and dozens of other valid
and reliable studies we conclude that:
People's opinions, thoughts and desires
are often molded by the questions they are asked. People's thoughts,
opinions and desires are often created in the moment and have little
or no relationship with what they will actually do or what they will
believe later. Many people have beliefs about things that are not
real, based upon questions (like Acts of Congress) and not knowledge.
Key 1: Most people are fairly automatic in their behavior. They see a
commercial and because they believe what they see without critical
thought, decide what drink to drink, restaurant to eat at, tax
preparer to use all based upon suggestion.
Key 2: Once most people
choose something, write something down, say something, whether it
makes any sense or not, whether it is in their best interest or not,
they tend to stick with that decision, regardless of how that
decision was made.
Key 3: People don't like cognitive
dissonance. Most can't hold two opposing thoughts in their minds so
they simply pick the thought/decision/belief they currently hold and
eliminate the rest without further consideration. This is called the
law of consistency.
The Law of Consistency states that,
"When an individual announces in writing (or verbally to a
lesser degree) that he is taking a position on any issue or point of
view, he will strongly tend to defend that belief regardless of its
accuracy even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary."
Your clients' past decisions and public
proclamations dramatically influence their beliefs and attitudes.
Once a person has publicly said, "I'll never X," they
normally never do. Many people make public statements that they have
not thought out, that often turn into beliefs and permanent
attitudes. The reason is simple. We are taught that our word is our
bond. When we say something you can count on us.
Former President Bill Clinton has been
on both sides of this law. In 1994 his continual changing of his
publicly stated positions cost the house and senate seats, creating a
republican majority in both houses of congress for the first time in
decades. In 1998 his adamant stand against talking about the Monica
Lewinsky case for ethical reasons helped him build the highest
popularity rating by a president in years. By consistently stating,
"I'm going to just do my job," the country began to believe
in Bill Clinton again and stood behind him as their president.
Did you know that 70% of all people are
the same religion they were when they were raised as children? This
is the law of consistency in real life action! The following graphic
will illustrate the power of various religious sects to hold members
over a lifetime.
Maintaining consistency is at the core
Percent of Current Members Raised in
Source: Adapted from American
Fundamentalists 52% Southern Baptists
86% Misc. Protestants 40% Other Baptists 77% Lutherans 75% Methodists
72% Inter/non-denom. 27% Liberals 49% Presbyterians 59% Episcopalians
54% Catholics 89% Jewish 83%
------------------------------------------------------- All Religions
For better or worse, Americans expect
and respect consistency and predictability. A recent research study
had subjects make decisions among various choices.
Group A was asked to "remember
Group B was asked to "write their
decisions on a magic slate and then pull the sheet up 'erasing' their
Group C was asked to write down their
decisions on paper with ink and hand them in to the researchers.
Which group stuck with their decisions?
Right. Group C stuck with their decisions over 3/4 of the time. Group
B kept their decisions half the time and Group A tended to change
their minds. The lesson is to get your client to write things down as
he participates in the sales process. He could write down anything
from goals for the coming year to what he would really like in a car,
a house, a stock portfolio or a vacation time share package. The key
is to get a pen in the client's hand and have him write!
Never ask for a question which will pin
the client down to a permanent "no" response.
How can you utilize the Law of
Consistency in selling your products and services?
Kevin Hogan Psy.D., is a Professional Speaker and the author of The Science of Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion and, Irresistible Attraction