Influence in interpersonal relationships: My landlord’s compliance seeking and persuasion strategies
Summary of Experience
In my first year of college, I did not want to reside within the campus so I decided to look for an apartment nearby. The first apartment I found was a bit of a shack, but I decided to stay there regardless while I continued my search. At the end of the semester I found a new apartment; it was closer to the campus and better in every way. The rent was about $750 and I didn’t mind as it was only a $100 increase from my other flat. However I was using my deposit for the last month I was occupying that flat and I didn’t want to move out before the month was up as the landlady would not give me back my deposit. So I asked the landlord at the new place if I could just pay him that month’s deposit just so the house does not get another tenant as I await the end of the month. The landlord said that it was not possible; however, he could reduce the rent by $75 and charge me $675 per month instead. This immediately changed my mind as there were only two more apartments left and they were going fast. I decided to leave whatever was left of my deposit and move into the new apartment without a second thought. There were no regrets for me. However, about two months after moving in, the landlord put up a notice stating that rent would no longer be inclusive of the water bill and every tenant would have to cover their own water bill. The monthly water bill was about $50, so I ended up paying $725 per month.
It was when we studied compliance techniques and persuasion in messages that I realized what the landlord had done. By first reducing the rent, he got me to agree to move in immediately with the thought of reduced accumulative cost of rent over the months that I would occupy his house rather than the little amount I would abandon at my previous residence as the deposit. I felt the need to return the favor of the reduced rent by paying my water bill. Even though in the end I had a $25 decrease from his original claimed price, I was a little angry at realizing that he had used some compliance-seeking strategy. I felt as if he had taken advantage of me and to be honest I felt a little stupid wondering why he didn’t just ask me for the $725 in the first place. But then again maybe he was just truthful about the water bill, and it is only my knowledge of compliance-seeking that is influencing my perception of the message.
Scholarly Analysis. Looking back on the situation and based on everything we have learned in class, I realize that the landlord used two principles and techniques in persuading me to take the house. At first, the door in the face technique was used by offering me the flat at a higher rent at first then reducing the rent by $75, so I would both leave my current place and pay full rent and deposit at his place. His offer was made to persuade me to realize that the reduced rent would have greater effect than whatever amount I would lose by leaving my deposit in my previous apartment. The landlord then applied the principle of reciprocity. After two months of paying reduced rent, he used the water bill to increase whatever amount he was receiving as rent. Furthermore, the increment was still $25 less than his original asking price and therefore I was blindsided. I felt that I owed him for the deducted rent, and so I did not see the trouble of paying my $50 water bill while he still received $675. This scarcity principle also applied in the event as the landlord promptly informed me that there were only two apartments left. This situation was a bit similar to Cialdini’s scarcity principle where he states that people are usually “more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value” (Cialdini, 2007).
Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins