I Know What You’re Doing to Me, So Why Can’t I Stop It?

The commitment and consistency concept:

  1. Ask an easy, no-brainer question first that the person knows the answer to without having to think, in order to get them to go on record with their answer.

  2. And then ask progressively more difficult and more difficult questions until you get the ultimate concession you’re seeking.

  3. When people go on record, rarely will they back down. They want to be consistent with each previous answer so they won’t lose face. A small commitment gets them started. Consistency is the motivator that gets them to make larger concessions.

Here’s how commitment and consistency is used in your personal life. Daphne, our oldest daughter, got her driver’s license in high school. She came to me the day she got it and asked, “Dad, can I borrow the car for the game Friday night?”


An easy, no-brainer question. I knew the answer to this one. Plus, I was expecting it.

“Sure, no problem.”


She came to me the next day, rubbing her finger tips together. “Dad, do you have ten bucks I can borrow for gas? I don’t have any money.”


Being a concerned parent, I took out my wallet. Don’t want her to get stranded in the middle of the night somewhere.


Two days later, the day of the game, she came to me again, “Dad, I know my curfew is at 11:30. But you know, this is homecoming. Can I stay out until one?”


What was she doing to me? That’s right. She was setting me up. She was using commitment and consistency. She didn’t know it. I was unaware of it. I fell for it. And I even teach it!


Here’s how you shoot yourself in the foot


You drop the kids off at the grandparents for the night and bribe them with, “If you’re good, we’ll bring you a surprise.” You just started the technique on yourself.


“Really?” the kids ask. They’re forcing you to strengthen your commitment.


“Really,” you promise. You have no clue what you just did.


“Don’t forget. You promised!”

Guess who’s not going to forget their surprise? The kids of course. And…you. Unconsciously you’re a master of commitment and consistency even if it’s self-inflicted. Be careful of the questions you ask or statements you make. Asking or making the wrong ones can sometimes work against you.


One more requirement


Ever ask your teen, “Now you’ll be home by 11. Right?” Be patient. Wait and make her respond. She has to go on record to agree in order to make the technique work.

For the cornerstone blog on the commitment and consistency technique see my blog “You Can Play with Your Roadkill, but Don’t Eat It.”


To see how commitment and consistency is used in business see my blog “You Don’t Clean a Loaded Gun While Looking Down the Barrel.”


To see how to develop questions to qualify/disqualify prospects see my blog “Quit Shooting from the Lip. You’ll Hurt Yourself.”


To see how you use commitment and consistency on yourself (“self-persuasion”) see my blog “Please Stop Me from Twisting My Arm Behind My Back.”




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