A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Robert Cialdini’s 7th principle of influence, unity. When I introduced unity, I said it goes beyond liking because it taps into a shared identity with another person. Unity goes deeper than simply having something in common with someone. In his latest book, Pre-suasion, Cialdini writes, “The relationships that lead people to favor another most effectively are not those that allow them to say, ‘Oh, that person is like us.’ They are ones that allow people to say, ‘Oh, that person is of us.’”
Simply put; me and you aren’t as strong as us. How do we obtain or build a shared identity so we can tap into unity? Acting together and being together are two ways to accomplish this.
When we do things with each other – act together – those shared experiences help make us who are we are. In turn we share that identity with others who’ve been shaped in a similar way. Here are some examples:
Marines go through the crucible of training together. Those who see actual combat experience something very few people can relate to. Those experiences make the men and women who serve unique in many ways and it forms a deep bond.
Sports teams practice and play together. When I played football in high school we had “two-a-day” practices in the hot August sun. Something else we did was play under the lights on Friday nights. Both experiences forged deep bonds among the players. I’ve been out of school for 35 years and still have regular contact with the guys who were captains with me on our senior year. There is an “us” mentality with that group which includes our head coach.
“Hell week” for fraternities and sororities are difficult and not everyone makes it through. Failure to make it through means you don’t get it in the frat or sorority you pledged. But when you do get through hell week you can look at your brother or sister and know they understand you in a deeper way because of the experience.
Being together could entail something like vacationing together, meeting someone at a resort, attending a sporting event or some other event. For example, if you were one of the 400,000 who attended Woodstock in August, 1969, you’ll have a shared identity with anyone you meet who was also there.
Quite often businesses will arrange trips for top performers or give tickets to sporting events. The hope is that being together, especially if something amazing happens, will imprint memories that will tap into unity.
Here’s a personal example. Last year I was at the Ohio State – Tulsa football game when a huge storm rolled in. As it began to pour, and halftime approached, people quickly left the stadium for shelter. Because we were already soaked to the bone Jane and I along with our friend Dan stayed to watch the final plays of the half. It looked like it was going to be uneventful until an Ohio State player intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown in the pouring rain. We were going nuts and I turned to Dan and said, “We’ll never forget this moment!” as we gave each other high fives and hugged.
For you to effectively utilize the principle unity in your persuasion attempts focus on two things:
- Creating opportunities to do or experience things together, and
- Do some research on the person you’ll attempt to persuade because you might discover something that alerts you to a shared identity.
Remember, unity is about togetherness – not you and me – us.