What is Compliance? Meaning and 5 Easy Ways To Gain it

What is Compliance?

In psychology, compliance means a social influence that enables other people to agree to your requests. As well as agreeing to other’s requests and acts according to their intentions.

People are often unaware that they are being influenced. There are situations when social influence leads them to behave in ways that are not in their best interest. People have this type of situation in everyday life.

For example, if you want someone to do something for you, how would you make others agree with you? If you go on exploring these circumstances for a moment, you will realize that you have some tricks of your own to get compliance that enables another person to agree to your requests. Compliance is a description of such techniques. These tactics depend upon the situation, an individual should know which one is to apply when.

Social psychologist Robert Cialdini (1994) invented the term compliance professionals to explain the behavior of people like salespeople, advertisers, political lobbyists, fundraisers, politicians, professional negotiators, and many others. Cialdini wanted to learn the techniques these people used for letting others agreeing with them. He distinguished himself and worked in different job settings where gaining compliance prevailed.

His experience while working with advertising, (door-to-door) direct sales, fund-raising, and other compliance-focused fields gave him the idea to develop techniques for gaining compliance. These different techniques are based on six principles, also known as Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles:

  • Friendship or Liking: Usually we comply with requests from friends or people we like than with people or strangers we don’t like.
  • Commitment or Consistency: We comply with requests for behaviors related to our role, responsibilities, position or status, and act accordingly than with requests that are contradictory.
  • Scarcity: Usually, we value objects that are in short supply or declining in their accessibility. As a result, we tend to comply with requests that focus on scarcity and try to secure them than with ones that make no concern.
  • Reciprocity: In general, we feel compelled to give back to people in some way for what they have done for us. Thus, we are willing to comply with a request from the persons who have done us a favor to oblige them than those who have not.
  • Social Validation: Generally we are more willing to comply with a request for some action if we sense that other persons are also acting and thinking like us. Consistency with action and feeling has a strong social influence to comply with requests.
  • Authority: It is our habit to comply with requests from someone who holds legitimate authority, than simply who appears to do so.

Tips, Tactics, and Techniques To Gain Compliance are:

Tactics Based on Friendship or Liking

A number of techniques for increasing compliance involve making a good impression on others. Impression management techniques are often used to influence others so that they will be more willing to agree to our requests. Some of these techniques are:

  • Flattery-praising others in some manner are one of the best ways. It may involve praising someone close to this individual, his or her children, spouse, or even pet.
  • Improving one’s own appearance, dressing style, hairstyle, and so on.
  • Give off many positive nonverbal cues (gestures), and
  • Doing small favors for the target persons e.g. carrying his bag, dropping him, etc.

Tactics Based on Commitment or Consistency

The Fit-In-the-Door (FITD): At the beginning of this tactic involves including target persons to agree to a small initial request “accept this free sample” and then making a large request. Studies show that this tactic works. It succeeds in including increased compliance (e.g. Beaman et al. 1983, Freedman and Fraser, 1966).

For example, persons or organizations offer a free sample of various goods, foods, etc. hoping that once they accept and use these gifts, they will buy more. This is the basic idea behind the FITD technique for gaining compliance. Another example, people are requesting you to sign a petition against AIDS while you are walking. After your signature, they request you to donate Rs.20 to the AIDS program. You look at your wallet for the money. If these people have asked you to donate Rs.20 straight forward to AIDS program you may not contribute.

There are three hypotheses explaining why the FITD technique works:

  • Self-perception hypothesis: explains people reason “I am the type of person who cooperates with other people.” These people perceive themselves as coordinating with the situation.
  • Perceptual contrast hypothesis: the second larger request is assimilated in the first smaller request and is seen as less burdensome than it was presented alone.
  • The information available: It involves the cognitive processes of the recipient related to the requested issue. It must be socially acceptable. People do not comply with requests they find objectionable.

The Lowball Technique: This technique is often used by automobile salespersons. For example, a very good deal is offered to a customer. After the customer accepts, however, something happens that makes it necessary for the salesperson to change the deal and make it less advantageous for the customer otherwise sales manager rejects the deal. It is totally unexpected situation for the customers, in which they think to walk away. Yet often they agree, to the changes they accept the less desirable arrangement. The manager may say the price has changed, scarcity, etc.

Tactics Based on Scarcity For Gaining Compliance

Playing Hard To Get: In general things that are in short supply, unusual, or hard to attain are viewed as more valuable than those that are plenty or easy to get. Thus, we often spend more effort or go to the greater expense to obtain these items or outcomes. This playing hard to get.

Fast Approaching Deadline Technique: What is scarce is valuable. This is the principle frequently used by department stores. They usually advertise using this deadline technique stating that a special sale will end on a certain date and the prices will go up after that date. Actually, in many cases, the time limit is false, the prices won’t go up after the indicated date, and sometimes it continues to drop if the merchandise remains unsold. This may simply be a technique for boosting sales.

Tactics Based on Reciprocity For Compliance

If somebody has done a favor for us, we feel that we should do one for them in return this explains the phenomena of reciprocity. There are two compliance techniques based on reciprocity.

The Door-In-The-Face: It is the opposite of the foot-in-the-door technique. Instead of beginning with a small request and then increasing to a larger one, persons seeking compliance sometimes start with a very large request and then, after this is rejected, shift to a smaller request and get the one they wanted. For example, a person in a charity program for street children requests you to donate Rs.500 to feed 10 children. You may react “what I can not”. In response to your reaction, the person provides you several alternatives lowering to smaller donations. Each time when it lowers you feel more and more liking and finally you agree to donate. It is called door in the face because the first refusal seems to slam the door in the face of the requester.

Why does it work? The individual feels he got the concession (from the big to the smaller one). The same tactic is used by negotiators, who may begin with a position that is extremely advantageous to themselves. Sellers often begin with a price they know buyers will reject and then lower the price to a more reasonable one.

That’s Not All Techniques (TNA): A similar method of gaining compliance is known as the “that’s-not-all” technique. In this technique, the salesperson throws all kinds of extra incentives e.g. a reduction in price, plus shipping and handling the free, toll-free, or free sample. Television commercial usually offers something extra to induce viewers to pick up the phone and place an order for various products.

Tactics Based on Social Validation

It suggests that we want to be consistent with what people similar to ourselves are doing or thinking. It has two aspects:

  • The Pique technique: It involves piquing (stimulating) the target person’s interest as a result they do not refuse the requests. We have seen charitable organizations increase the amount of money they collect by doing something that makes their requests usual or attention-getting. Usually, people ignore it first hand but later causes us to think about the request again which may increase our tendency to comply. This the basis for gaining compliance known as the pique technique.
  • Putting others in a good mood before making your request. Flattery, sweet talk, a good discussion, logical defending are included.

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