Productivity and GTD

Apply the Cialdini's Principle of Consistency to Your Personal Productivity

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.” ~ Roy T. Bennett
Consistency

In his famous book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini talks about the scientific principles behind the art of influencing on people. This book, which has become a reference for any marketing professional, states six universal principles that determine what moves people to change their behavior.

It’s a very recommendable book, even if you don’t do anything related to marketing or need to be particularly persuasive in your life, because it will help you understand some factors that affect your behavior and that sometimes go completely unnoticed.

In this article I will talk about the second of these six principles, the Principle of Consistency, because I believe it can help you make decisions that significantly influence your personal productivity. The Cialdini’s Principle of Consistency states the following:

“Once people make a decision, take a stand or perform an action, they will face an interpersonal pressure to behave in a consistent manner with what they have said or done previously”.

Consistency is an adaptive behavior that has been very beneficial. Doing certain things always in the same way and making decisions according to the same values help us survive in a complex world.

We feel bad if we say we are going to do one thing and then we don’t do it. We unconsciously strive for consistency in our commitments. We prefer to follow preexisting attitudes, values and actions, so it is much more likely that we end up doing something after having admitted to agree with it – verbally or in writing.

Moreover, this principle becomes stronger with age. The older we get, the more we value consistency. Now you know why older people are so stubborn.

How can you apply this principle in your life in a productive way? Here you have some ideas:

  • If you want to do a big project, define properly the desired outcome and immediately do the first action necessary to carry out the project. Even if it’s small, it will imply accepting the commitment. And once you accept the commitment, you will want to be consistent with your decision.
  • Not only do we want to “be” consistent, we also need to “look” consistent. When you want to do something important, make it public: talk about it to your family, your partner, your friends or mention it in social networks. The internal pressure to be consistent with our decisions is much bigger when we know that other people are aware of those decisions.
  • The more effort you put into doing something, the more influential the Principle of Consistency will be. Therefore, you can use rewards to encourage you in some way to invest more time when you are starting with something.

2 comments

Cbb121ec56dbd676983a527c7480f4c4
Commented 10 months ago Tiago M.

I read once that "making it public" may backfire. The brain may understand that as a public report of a completed action or project. I do not agree with that in its totality, but I always take precautions. Writing the outcomes in my project list is the first thing for example. We never know what productivity killer may be lurking in the dark, right? If my brain foolishly regards my announcement of a project as something done, my "Weekly Review pill" is just a week away from curing this absurdity.

Cbb121ec56dbd676983a527c7480f4c4 Tiago M.

I read once that "making it public" may backfire. The brain may understand that as a public report of a completed action or project. I do not agree with that in its totality, but I always take precautions. Writing the outcomes in my project list is the first thing for example. We never know what productivity killer may be lurking in the dark, right? If my brain foolishly regards my announcement of a project as something done, my "Weekly Review pill" is just a week away from curing this absurdity.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented 10 months ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Tiago,

I've never heard that but, as you say, having the outcome of the project well defined is the most important step in accepting commitment. Glad to see that your productivity rests on the Weekly Review ;)

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Tiago,

I've never heard that but, as you say, having the outcome of the project well defined is the most important step in accepting commitment. Glad to see that your productivity rests on the Weekly Review ;)

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