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Persuasion secrets from a humane “parking cop” – changing behaviour part 1

I just had an interesting “run-in” with the law – an experience that I am very grateful for.

parking officer

I was parked illegally and I’ll never park there again – not because of fear but because the parking officer was so cleverly persuasive.

I often work as a “persuasion professional” helping organisations change the behaviour of people, so I know the techniques behind persuasion.
I usually “hate” traffic/parking officers but this experience totally turned my behaviour around , so I’ve tried to analyse the persuasion techniques that made the difference.

If often see stories in the news about fights (verbal and physical) where people get angry with parking officers giving them tickets.

The parking officer may have just been a decent human (and father) – rather than applying some slick persuasion techniques – but this encounter worked so well in changing my behaviour and attitude and achieving the “ultimate goal” – stopping me parking in this particular “trouble spot” in the future.

I reckon other authorities could learn from his effective approach.

I won’t mention too many details because I don’t want to get this person in trouble for not giving out tickets and raising revenue. He put long-term effectiveness (stopping people parking in a particular area) above short- term revenue raising. He also, to me, changed my attitude about parking officers in general. Before this, I thought they were inflexible and inhumane “Little Hitlers”.

The scene:

I’m picking up my two kids (not from school) and as I walk back to the car with them I see a uniformed person looking at my car and writing down things. Don’t you hate that feeling?

Anyway, this officer sees my kids and says (and I’m paraphrasing):

You are parked on a footpath. I should give you a ticket for parking here – but I can see why you parked here to pick up your kids. Just remember that when you park here you make it hard for other people to get past. Especially when lots of people park here. This time I’ll just give you a warning – but there’s a crack-down about parking here and next time you will get a ticket.

If you are like me when it comes to parking – you often take a “calculated risk” based on the chances of getting a ticket/time of day/ the time I’m likely to be parked there etc.

The officer and I then get chatting. He seemed like a decent bloke who understood the need for parents to park in a spot like this to pick up their kids. (By the way, this wasn’t at school so I wasn’t putting any other kids at risk!)

The officer then worked into the conversation – it sounded like a bloke-to-bloke chat rather than an authority-to-offender lecture:

It doesn’t matter how short a time you park here. We can just drive past and take photos of number plates and send out tickets later.

We also chatted about how so many people seemed to park in the wrong spot (safety in numbers doing the wrong thing!)

The officer commented how that’s a common thing for people to see other parked in the wrong spot and to think it’s OK – but the greater numbers of offenders attracts complaints AND the authorities and how taking photos of number plates is much faster than officers having to write out tickets.

In future, I will park somewhere else (legally). People are persuaded by different things. In part 2, I’ll break down why this officer was effective in changing my behaviour.

Robert-Cialdini Influence

Persuasion and Influence expert Robert Cialdini studied persuasion shortcuts that many persuasion professions use and I’ll relate the above experience to the principles of:
3.Social Validation
and the clever tweaking of the principle of

If you enjoyed this post here are some other posts about persuasion – especially in a domestic situation:

The guided choice

Use the Intersecting Circles

TB LL mosaic

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

I’ve disciplined my self to check ALL my different communication platforms twice a day – as part of my Check-in Ritual.




One comment on “Persuasion secrets from a humane “parking cop” – changing behaviour part 1

  1. efangelist
    January 16, 2016

    Reblogged this on efangelist.

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This entry was posted on November 4, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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