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Quotes Worth Considering: Tim Sanders

Written by: Bill Sherman on Wednesday, 16 July 2008, 5:14 PM

Today, in his blog, Tim Sanders makes an excellent and memorable point about “talking the walk”:

Being less bad will not save the world . . . the only way that you can move beyond zero and make a positive difference is by influencing others.

Tim’s specific point relates to talking about the green movement–reducing carbon, reducing waste, and avoiding harmful impacts. He encourages people to tell others what they’re doing to make a difference environmentally.

Tim’s point provides a clear example of the psychology of Influence–specifically the principle of social proof. Let’s look at it through the lens of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive (Goldstein, Martin, and Cialdini).

You’ve probably seen the small signs in hotel rooms that politely ask you to reuse your towel.  The authors took this small card as an opportunity for a social psychology experiment.

When the card said “the majority of other guests in this hotel have reused their towel at least once during their stay” — there was a 26% increase in reuse over the industry standard.

When the card said “the majority of other guests in this room have reused their towel at least once during their stay”–there was an increase of 33% in reuse over the industry standard.

What difference does it make whether other guests have reused towels? Why should I care whether previous people in my room reused towels?

Language has power. Social proof has power. You can either be a drain or a positive influence. The first appraoch is easy. Just stay quiet. The second approach requires you to speak up and create influence.

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