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Persuasion Power At Work – The violinist

Here is another story to read and a lesson to learn from:

When it comes to giving recognition and encouragement to others, silence is rarely golden.

A story is told of a man who sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin on a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. It was during the rush hour and thousands of people went through the station on their way to work. People went by, some stopped for while, looked at their watches and then hurried up to their offices so as to be not late for work.

In the 45 minutes, the violinist played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him some money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew that this violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. Two days before playing in the subway, Joshua sold out at a theatre in Boston, and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment.


How often have employees gone unrecognized by their managers for doing a good job in the workplace? In their busyness, managers hurried on to their meetings and their tasks and do not spend some time to give recognition and encouragement to their staff. The only time their managers take notice of them is when they make mistakes. To engage employees, managers need to stop and give encouragement and applaud their achievements, progress and efforts – not just to star performers. Do not wait for perfection to be achieved before giving praise.

Giving recognition is a gift we give to others. This is the principle of reciprocity which I learn from Dr. Robert Cialdini who certified me to be a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT). A gift need not be something tangible like money. A gift can be a greeting or a smile. Recognition as a gift lifts the human spirit and is a powerful means of persuasion and influence.

Dr. Khoo Cheok Kau is a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT) and is 1 of the 29 CMCTs in the world to be trained and certified by Dr. Robert Cialdini to conduct the Principles of Persuasion (POP) Workshop. There is a POP workshop to be conducted from April 7-8, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Kindly contact for more information.

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