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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 22-Mar-15


Sunday 22-March-15

Rejection-and-retreat in action

There's a simple persuasion method that is sometimes useful, sometimes known as 'Rejection and Retreat' or 'Door In The Face'. The basic idea is to make a bold request that may well be rejected. When it is refused, then you retreat to a far simpler request. Doing this makes the second request far more likely to be accepted.

This works for several reasons. First, having already refused you, the person would feel mean to say no a second time. There is also an element of exchange as your acceptance of their refusal obliges them to do something in return. Another factor is the contrast between your first and second request -- the large first request makes the second request seem much smaller.

We had a perfect candidate for this method recently when my wife was taking advertising flyers around the shops in town for a bingo evening at our village hall. Shops often are not keen on obstructing their products and distracting their customers with posters, even if this is for a good cause. So we needed a strategy to cope with refusal.

I produced two sizes of poster, one A4 (about 8" x 11") and others one eighth of this size. So my wife went into shops, from one end of the high street to the other, first asking if they would put the A4 poster in their window. If they refused, she sighed a little and asked if they would put a small pile of the mini-posters on the counter. It worked! Many poster-rejecters accepted retreat-request for mini-posters.

Further, if they accepted the A4 poster, she still asked for the mini-posters to be put on the counter. Many agreed to this too. The psychological principle at work here was the Ben Franklin Effect, where a person who has done you a kindness is more likely to agree to a second request. This is because they rationalize their first agreement as being because they like you, and so helping you again becomes important for sustaining their internal consistency.

So our bingo should be an even greater success, thanks to some judicious use of persuasion methods. Splendid.

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