18 September 2006

An Invitation

Woah, that double post on Friday must have completely knocked me out of the blogging gear for the weekend. Actually, not. We were just playing sardines again, this time in the library. Ah, well, I'm working on lowering my expectations for consistency anyway. It's good for me. :D

The other night we had a stake Relief Society fireside. During the first talk, the speaker made mention of a long passage of scripture on which she based her talk, and even gave us enough time to look it up. Yet no one pulled out their scriptures. But when the next speaker specifically invited us to pull out our scriptures and read along with her, almost everyone did. No one looked up the scripture during the first talk wasn't for lack of resources or lack of desire. The only difference between the two speakers was the invitation to open our scriptures. All of us had come prepared to read from our scriptures, and no doubt many of us wanted to do so. But nothing happened until a specific invitation was issued.

Which brings me to my philosophy on invitations. (Yes, I have one. I'm beginning to think I have too many theories and philosophies. Anyway . . .) People will rarely do anything, even something they really want to, unless you invite them to do it, not once, but twice. Yups. Theoretically, you should only need to ask people to do something once, especially if it's something they already want to do. Yet, if you issue a second invitation, you can usually double your attendance. And I think you get pretty good returns from third invitations, though fourth invitations tend to look desperate.

This lesson was solidified for me when I was on the ward "communications committee," otherwise known as the glorified directory- and flyer-making squad. You'd think announcing the thing over the pulpit and putting it in the program would be enough to make any decently conscious person aware of it, but no. The activities that we got flyers out for got attended. Those we didn't, well, didn't.

And like I said before, I don't believe this to be from a lack of desire to attend. I admit, there is something to the principle of inertia: objects at rest tend to stay at rest; people in routine tend to stay in routine; and people resist anything that breaks up their natural state. We don't like things taking away from "our time," as CS Lewis would say. From this we derive the other rule of invitations: invite early. The closer you get to the point of action, the less likely people are to change their plans, unless they are in an energetic mood.

Still, there are plenty of times when I've received a flyer for an activity I thought looked fun, but I didn't go because I was worried that it would be lame because no one else would know about it and go. I think double and triple invites make people assume that others are going, therefore making them more likely to go. Self-fulfilling prophecy, anyone?

Yeah, that was random, but really, so am I.

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