This short video from Influence at Work summarizes findings from “The Science of Persuasion” into these 6 points:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Consensus

I think that “persuasion” is another form of Engagement for Change, and that these 6 principals can be employed directly to deliver results and influence Organizational Change. (Note that the researcher says that the “ethical” utilization of these principals is a key to success.)



  • Give first. Give more. Let it be personalized and unexpected. Pay attention more to how you give because this is more important than what you actually give. The timing of giving needs to be sensitive to when you will be asking for reciprocal behaviour. This can be done through the language of Change Communications. Compliment and be personal. Recognize people individually. Ask for their assistance. This can also be done through providing some rewards, privileges or rewards in advance. Examples would be allowing for a casual dress code through a renovation or a move, or closing the office early one day in expectation of an increased workload in the near future due to Organizational Change.


  • You need to communicate not only the benefits of the change, but also what is at risk (what people will lose) if they don’t take you up on your “offer”. The unique aspects of the offer need to be made clear. This could be at the individual level, but might be best to express first from the organizational and team level. For example, communicate and show how an aligned organization, and aligned work teams will benefit from the change, and also what will be lost by a lack of adoption – profitability, reputation in the marketplace, efficiency. Paint the bigger picture and express the risks of not achieving that vision. This is a key part of the “WIFM” (what’s in it for me) and must be done without seeming punitive or negative. The solution is for people to respond to your “call to action” in order to avoid any potential downside. The solution is how people can be successful.


  • People will follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. You must signal what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. For Organizational Change Management this means having credible and respected Sponsors, and using Change Champions who are also trusted. Assess the credibility of your Change Agents as part of your Sponsor and Stakeholder Plan.


  • When a change in behaviour is desired, ask first for small initial agreements or commitments that can easily be made. For a change initiative think about the increasing scope, complexity or controversial nature of a pathway forward that you need people to adopt. Ask first for the most simple and step people down the path of adjusting and adopting to the change. Make these commitments to change voluntary, active and public commitments. If possible have people put their commitments in writing. Public and visible commitments can take a number of forms. For a large organizational change this could look like the CEO or trusted and liked leaders asking employees at Town Hall forums to work together during the changes and rally together for the bigger objective. During a facility move or renovation due to a merger, downsizing or growth this could look like a poster or graffiti wall with personal signatures reinforcing a commitment by each individual to pull together during challenging times. Change Coaching plans for change should include identifying the commitment path forward and working with Change Sponsors, Stakeholders, and Champions on creating adoption for the change in this manner.


  • Who it is who is asking for the commitment to change is important because people prefer to say “yes” to people they like. This is an important factor in selecting and grooming Change Sponsors, Stakeholders and Champions. People are more likely to say “yes” to change when asked by people who are similar to them – who are a part of the same community, team or group. This is a key reason why the middle managers who have the direct relationships with employees play such a pivotal role in the adoption of change. Positive reinforcement helps greatly in terms of likability. When asking for a change or a commitment to change, reinforce the positive. Reinforce what is going well and what strengths people are exhibiting. Likewise, those asking for a change need to take the time to get to know people, to find common ground in order to establish a sense of familiarity and “sameness”. These points can be woven into face-to-face events and conversations and also into writing and published communications about Organizational Change initiatives.


  • People will look to the actions of others before making changes to their own behaviours.When fostering adoption for Organizational Change communicate by reinforcing the positive – as in examples where others are both successfully adopting to change, and performing as a result of the change. Give examples that are honest, specific and relevant to the community engaged and provide compelling facts and information that support and encourage the behavioural change. Change Coaching plans for change should include positive and relevant examples. Examples, statistics and stories can be used in face-to-face conversations, team meetings, larger group presentations and in all written and broadcast communications for Organizational Change.