“He made me feel like I was the only one in the room.”

Guy Meeting Bill Clinton
What influential technique did Bill Clinton master that you can to? Find out here: http://bit.ly/11n1CSu (Click to Tweet)

Like him or not, Bill Clinton had a special gift. He was renowned for his ability to make people feel special. He had a unique ability to make one person in a room of 500 feel like the only one who mattered. And then he would make the next person feel the same way…and the next…and the next.

He knew something that few people know:

People don’t want to be treated well.
Or like you want to be treated.
They want to be treated like they are the only one who matters.

Yesterday, I shared the first of two scientifically proven techniques to make you a better leader, spouse, parent, marketer, and ultimately influencer. That technique was giving people a head start, starting them in the middle, not the beginning. As promised, here is technique number two.

Give preferential treatment

Giving people preferential treatment (even if it’s only perceived) works everywhere. Waiters know this as well as anyone. OK, good waiters do.

According to a study by Monmouth University researcher David Strohmertz, waiters who add a candy/mint to the bill increase their tip size.

  • Normal tip: 18.95%
  • Tip with candy: 19.59%
  • Tip with two candies: 21.62%
  • Tip with special treatment: 22.99%

What is this “special treatment” that is so effective? It is incredibly effective and frighteningly simple.

Strohmertz’s research showed that waiters can increase their tip from 21.62% to 22.99% (that’s $1000+ a year for some waiters) by first giving a single candy or mint, then after turning to leave, returning and offering a second one. Tricky, huh?

Yes 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert Cialdini
These lessons and studies come from one of my favorite books of all time. Check it out here.

This makes diners feel like they got the preferential treatment I mentioned above. The waiter went from protocol to individual favor.

Everyone wants to feel like you are doing something just for them. They want to feel special. They want to feel like the only one who matters.

You can use this to your advantage in every area of life.

  • At work: Offer special training to someone on your team.
  • With customers: Use the waiter example and the car wash example from yesterday’s post as creative inspiration. There are thousands of ways you can give special treatment to customers.
  • With clients: If a contract calls for 20 hours, spend 22. Occasionally go 10 minutes over on the one-hour call. Send them a book you recommended, at your expense.
  • With anyone: If a name comes up on conversation and you know the person, offer to introduce him or her.
  • At home: Spend individual time with each child (if you have more than one). Don’t make it appear to be routine.
  • At work: Initially decline a request for help, then offer it.

Two warnings

There are two warnings I must give when it comes to this technique. There are two dangerous traps that people can fall into that must be addressed.

  1. Be careful with the opposite sex. Giving preferential treatment to team members, clients, or customers of the opposite sex can come across wrong and put you on a slippery slope. Be sure that you consider the appearance of the special treatment first. (Do I even need to mention how Bill Clinton went wrong here?)
  2. Tell the truth. Don’t manipulate people or situations. In the example above about declining to help, then offering it, don’t do so dishonestly. If you genuinely decline at first, I am suggesting that then you might consider offering special help. Don’t decline to manipulate.

Think about leaders you know who are great at this and learn from them. You might even ask them how they do it. They just might give you preferential treatment and share with you.

How can you give others perceived preferential treatment?

16 thoughts on “How Do People Really Want to be Treated? | Cialdini & Clinton

  1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    Really well developed post. Thanks for sharing. When leading a team, this matters so much. You just need to be careful that everyone gets some form of special treatement (it can and must vary or it wouldn’t be special)…. but you don’t want to look like you’re playing favorites.

    Now to stir the pot a bit…. I hear you on the opposite sex thing… but if you are too careful and give your deeper connection to only the guys, you run other risks (good ole boy network etc)

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Good point Karin on the good ole boy network.

      I think, like you said, it must be varied. A one-on-one lunch in a nice restaurant would be totally appropriate with another guy, whereas rewarding a woman with a gift certificate for a nice restaurant to which she can take her husband or someone else would be a better fit.

      I think the key is to be thinking of creative and appropriate ways to do it.

      Have you seen any awesome ways of doing this?

      1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

        But….. if you eat with the guy, then you build the relationship more deeply. I’ve eaten lots of great meals with male bosses, colleages, and co-workers. Breaking bread builds relationships. Most folks are mature enough to understand it’s a business relationship.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Good points. Although, “breaking bread” is insensitive to those who are gluten intolerant (just kidding…it’s PC Friday…a holiday I just made up)

    2. Steve Pate says:

      Try being the only male staff for awhile! But I also like what Andy Stanley says, “do for one, what you wish you could do for all.” Good points Karin

  2. Matt McWilliams says:

    I like feeling special. I’ll admit it 🙂

  3. Steve Pate says:

    Once again great job Matt! Two things came to mine for me, First, on the side, I lead snowmobile tours to earn a little extra green backs. And I experimented with a couple things. One, I went into the tour expecting no tips, just focus on giving them the best tour I can give, and I made sure to learn their names right away!

    I would generally have 4-5 sleds behind me and when I needed to look back and check on them, instead of counting the sleds, I called them by the drivers name! At check points, I would say, “great, job Matt, what do you think of the views so far?” ect.

    And I tell you, most of my drivers where first timers and lots and lots of India folk who’s names took lots of repeating! But even when I slaughter their names, they would say, “that’s okay…” but I would say back, “no, your name is the most precious thing you have and I want to honor that.” —The results, every body I had, had a great time and walked away with great memories! As for the tip side, lets just say I made TWICE as more than the pay I got for being a guide at $17 an hour. The key for that was making my heart serve first and expect nothing but a great ride.

    Second, was when kids that come to camp, my first year I noticed the campers, carried their luggage around them selves. Right away I implemented a luggage system to make the parents and the kids feel welcomed and served right away!

    Sorry a little long winded here, but the ox as been in the ditch for me and I had time this morning to catch up on your post! Thanks again for the encouragement we get from your hard work and passion Matt.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Wow Steve. Those are both great examples of serving.

      And the thing about money…

      I know when a pizza delivery person (side note…I haven’t had a pizza delivery in years and now I am craving it) comes to my door and super-serves me…I know he knows I am going to give him a better tip or call his boss to praise him. And I don’t care.

      Same for a waiter. I often declare 10-15 minutes into a meal, “That guy is getting a great tip” or ask “What’s the minimum tip I can give this guy and not be a total jerk?” He or she knows they are going to be rewarded. But I don’t care. I am getting killer service.

      My advice to you…KEEP IT UP!

  4. Nicely done. I agree. I think it’s important to be strategic about it. In business to think “How do we do something that will wow the customer?” Then do it all the time. Like the mints.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Exactly. That is a great question. Why pass up the opportunity to cause someone to talk about your company?

  5. Charly Priest says:

    Looking at the camera, looking at me in the eye…”I had no sexual relationships with that woman.”CUT, couple of months later “Indeed I had a relationship with Miss. Lewinsky that were unappropriate.” Gotta love that when you see the video back to back. But great politician, and like all great politicians they master the art of persuasion and being your daddy(meaning you put your confidence in them to do the right thing). I guess that under the category of master of persuasion you´ll have to put “treated like they are the only ones who matter”. Good you pointed out to me the last two part´s of the genre issue and tell the truth, I was a bit confused when I read the part of denying a request for help and then offering it.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      HAHA yeah, without those two points I kind of look like a sleazebag.

  6. Katherine Leicester says:

    Terrific post. I shall share stories as the effect ripples across my world.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Now that would be cool.

  7. Jon Stolpe says:

    For years, Chick-Fil-A has followed this model with their unbelievable customer service. While they don’t receive tips, I think they gain business by the way they repeatedly treat their customers.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I am 99% sure that is the only thing Bill Clinton and Chick-fil-A have in common 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.