Is Consistency Always Good?

One of the most prized compliments to give someone is consistency. “He’s a good employee, he’s always on time”. “Although he is not the sharpest tool in the shed, at least he’s reliable”. “She’s like clockwork”. “She’s always there when we need her”.

Society prizes consistency. Its easier to plan and do things when you can predict and rely on the actions of others.

For example, how could you run a business or your organisation if everyone just decided to turn up any day of the week at any time. Or if someone who gave their word to you to do something,  regularly changed their minds.

So consistency is a prized and valued thing.

But is it always good?

I was recently re-reading one of my most valued books – “Influence: Science and Practice” – by Robert B. Caldini a trained clinical psychologist, and he has stirred this thinking in me once again.

Off to the Races: Punters and their Punts.

Caldini noted the work of two Canadian psychologists. They found something fascinating about people at a racetrack. Just after placing the bet on the horse, they were much more confident of the horse winning, than just before they placed the bet.

They found that the act of placing the bet, actually increased the confidence of something happening.

However, their reasoning didn’t change, the jockey’s didn’t change and horses couldn’t care less about the odds or book size.

You see, now the Punter has committed to the bet – they felt more confident. To change that decision would be inconsistant.

A more sobering example:

Caldini continues, about a story of a woman in an abusive relationship. Who left the relationship, but upon promises of reform by her partner,  accepting him back. Soon, his old ways returned. But yet she felt better about the relationship after accepting him back – justifying that he must be her true love, even though the abusive behaviour remained as before.

Consistency. Sticking to your word. Its important and valued. But what trouble can it get us in?

The Salami Slice Sale Technique.

He also researched an effective sales technique of the power of consistency. Sales techniques that rely on the subject agreeing to a small demand, that sets a behavioural precedent. Agreeing to attend a “free” seminar on time share units. Agreeing to a small sample. Buying a small contract. All things which set a behavioural precedent that we feel compelled to comply with.

All these set a behavioural consistency that society normally rewards us for and places us in the position that we “have” to comply with further requests. Get a small concession, then build on it- the sales man’s mantra- start to eat the salami, one slice at a time.

How much trouble do we get into, when  starting with something small, trivial , but nevertheless that’s wrong and bad.

Time to be Inconsistent:

Here is today’s challenge.

What areas in our life and business are we committed to wrongly. What areas and items of work are we doing, that if we were to make the that decision again would we rationally agree to again?

If you a share holder, or property investor, would you have bought that asset, if you had the cash today? Are you convincing yourself that it has to be right decision, because otherwise, your inconsistency would be challenged?

Are we in a relationship with people we shouldn’t be with? Are we with the “right” crowd?

Find out where to be inconsistent.

Let each decision stand on its own. Don’t let your commitments escalate. Revisit your commitments.

I am learning to value of the female mind more and more, because I realised that ladies have the ability to re-evaluate, change their minds, and be “indecisive”, much more easily than most “decisive” men do.

That used to trouble me and my oversized male ego, now I realise this is a is blessed powerful personal attribute.

It’s not just being inconsistent, but revisiting a decision, rationally re-evaluating – avoiding trouble.

Inconsistency – it’s not always a bad thing.

Decide to be thoughtfully unreliable – in those area’s that need change.

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