Make the biggest difference with the smallest change

Jan 14, 2015

Do you want to be more influential? Of course you do. Everybody wants to have an effect on how others think, feel and act. If you are committed to an outcome or result, influence is something you’re interested in.

The only problem is that being influential doesn’t come naturally. In fact, you’ve probably had some experiences that started out as an attempt at influencing others that quickly turned into manipulation. The only result left was nothing but a bad taste in everyone’s mouth; to say nothing of not getting the desired result.

Better results with a small BIG

In the book The Small BIG: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence the authors Martin, Goldstein and Cialdini share a collection of fifty-two small influence strategies that can make a BIG difference in your results.

These strategies are called ‘small BIGs’ (little things that you can do or say that have big impact). All these approaches are derived from recent psychological research and behavioral science. In today’s information-overloaded world, the smallest changes often have the biggest influence.

My 3 favorite small BIGs

1. The secret of completing tasks

In the early stages of your project, focus on the small progress that has already been made rather than on the larger amount that remains. This will significantly increase the chances of success.

Once the halfway mark is passed, people’s motivation to complete a task is typically higher when feedback is shifted to the smaller amount of effort remaining. So messages like “ You only have 20% left to achieve your goal” will likely be more effective than “You are 80% of the way to achieving your goal.”

2. Improve relationships, partnerships and teamwork

When it comes to encouraging cooperation and partnership, focus on shared identities. Team players, managers and leaders who are looking for a stimulating atmosphere of cooperation and support amongst their teams should pay attention to the things that their teams share. Focus on what binds, rather than what divides your team members.

In order to maximize the positive impact of similarities, however, focus on the uncommon similarities. Studies show that encouraging newly formed team members to actively seek out examples of uncommon commonalities, while small, could be a big step that speeds up cooperation, collaboration, and partnership.

3. Play your most popular song at the end

First impressions count. But as any pop star or film director can tell you, what happens at the end is important too. Pay attention to the way an interaction ends. This can have an incredible influence on the satisfaction score of your customers. It can be the deciding factor in your clients’ decision to return to you – or not.

his phenomenon is known as the peak-end effect. Peak-end effects are the reason why pop-stars tend to play their most popular songs at the end of the concert.

Some small changes in your behavior towards the end of a task, project or negotiation can lead to a big effect.


What is your favorite small BIG?