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The Disadvantage of Modesty

By David Ackert on September, 6 2013

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David Ackert

One of my favorite pieces ofwoman-with-hands-covering-face advice comes from Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence. In his book, he talks about the importance of helping the people in your business network. He also provides some advice on how to respond when they thank you.

You see, we learn at an early age to respond to acknowledgment by dismissing our good turn. We say things like, "oh, don't mention it," "not at all," "it was nothing," or "de nada." But Cialdini points out that this is a missed opportunity. Instead, he suggests we reinforce the reciprocity we hope to foster in the relationship by saying something like, "of course, that's what friends do for each other" or "you would do the same for me."

When I first encountered it, I immediately recognized the value of Cialdini's advice, but when I tried to implement it, I found it awkward and uncomfortable. It was much easier to brush off the attention and default into modesty. But with practice, Cialdini's technique has become second nature to me and is a better reflection of my principles: to be conscious in my communication and to reinforce the bonds I build with the people who matter to me.

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