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The Smallest Commitment Now

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

From the New York Times:

“Gordon Sinclair, the owner of Gordon restaurant in Chicago, had an epiphany about 10 years ago when he began adding up the cost of no-shows and found that the grand total was $900,000 a year, a figure that got him thinking, fast. […]

He instructed his receptionists to stop saying, ”Please call us if you change your plans,” and start saying, ”Will you call us if you change your plans?” His no-show rate dropped from 30 percent to 10 percent. In other words, by asking a question and eliciting a response, he created a sense of obligation.”

We’ve broadly found (although not always) small commitment pledges to be an effective tactic to change group behavior. People that resist making a big change today are more than happy to commitment to that change in the future.

Once they’ve made a commitment (either directly to an individual or to a broader group), they’re more likely to follow through. Instead of asking people to make a big change, ask them if they will perform the behavior in 2 to 3 months time.


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