Archive for August, 2011

6 persuasion tips for breastfeeding moms and advocates

Posted in parenting, psychology on August 17, 2011 by gohelpyourself

They're made for babies, too. (Photo by Hector Landaeta, taken from

“Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we join the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in it’s “Talk to Me!” theme where participants will share personal experiences, insights or recommendations in communicating breastfeeding intentions and goals to their support system. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.”

By Anthony O. Alcantara

As long as God has not nullified his command to “Go forth and multiply,” there will always be babies.

And the job of breastfeeding advocates, especially with this wonderful onslaught of babies in our world, is to “go forth and demystify” the idea of breastfeeding.

But how do we persuade people that female breasts exist for babies? That breasts are not merely decorations to be used on special occasions? That babies need the life-giving milk from their mothers? That people who run companies making milk formula are actually aliens who want to experiment on humans?

We can turn to Robert Cialdini, a psychologist who specializes in influence, for answers. I’m pretty sure he’s not an alien.

I already wrote a piece on persuasion a long time ago. But now I take the liberty to apply Cialdini’s  framework for the use of breastfeeding moms and advocates.

Principle 1: Reciprocity

This means that we feel the need to return favors to other people.

Let’s say Pedro is trying to convince his skeptical wife Maria to breastfeed their soon-to-be-born daughter.

“Honey, do you remember the shopping money I gave you so you can buy all those clothes to make you look pretty despite that big belly? Can you please consider breastfeeding for at least a few months?”

Principle 2: Authority

If reciprocity doesn’t work, there are other tools Pedro can use. The principle of authority shows that people have the tendency to respect experts who know better. Research is important.

“Honey, did you know that breastfed babies rarely get sick? According to a reliable study about breastfeeding, these babies are also smarter then formula-fed babies.”

“If mom breastfed me, I should have been a super genius.”

“Me too. Now I’m left with only two working neurons.”

Principle 3: Commitment/Consistency

There’s another principle that Pedro can use. People have this need to be consistent to their beliefs and values.

“I know you love our baby so much, dear. Do you promise to give her everything to give her a great life?”

“Yes of course.”

“Maybe we should consider breastfeeding, don’t you think?”

Principle 4: Scarcity

People want what others can’t have. Most of us indeed want gadgets, cars or club memberships that others can only dream of. It’s a natural inclination.

“Maria, do you know that fewer and fewer moms breastfeed despite the obvious benefits? These rare moms who breastfeed are indeed doing something good for their babies.”

“Yes, I know my friends didn’t even consider breastfeeding.”

“They probably don’t know what their kids are missing.”

Principle 5: Liking

This principle shows that we say yes to people we like. Liking can take several forms. We tend to say yes to people who are similar to us physically, culturally or in terms of social status. We also tend to like people who praise us.

“There’s this La Leche League group with moms like you who have the same problems with breastfeeding. They’re your age. I think one of your friends way back in elementary school is a member. Maybe you can have friends there who can support you.”

“Yeah, at this stage I need all the support I can get.”

Principle 6: Social Proof

This principle only shows that people tend to follow what others do.

“What’s this in the newspaper? There is an increasing number of moms who wish to breastfeed. They’re just few, but it’s becoming a trend.”

“Oh that’s interesting.”

“And more and more hospitals are now supporting breastfeeding. Maybe there’s something to this breastfeeding thing after all.”

Now Pedro can use these principles in combination for maximum effect. Lots of promising one-two-three combinations that can be used over time.

Will they work? Despite my contrived examples above, I think they will, if used properly.

Now go forth and spread the good news. And don’t forget to thank Robert Cialdini.


TouringKitty’s Communication Through Breastfeeding (Twitter: @Touringkitty) (This is my wife’s blog and twitter account. We’re reaching another milestone with our baby soon.)

DaintyMom’s Creating a Pro-Breastfeeding Culture in the Family (Facebook and Twitter: @Dainty_Mom)

Wifely Steps’ On Breastfeeding: Say It, Claim It, Get Support! (Facebook and Twitter: @macaronigirl)

Truly Rich Mom’s How To Get Others to Support You in Breastfeeding (Facebookand Twitter: @tinasrodriguez)

EthanMama’s My Best Breastfeeding Support System – My Husband (Twitter: @ethanmama)

Raising Baby Lia’s A Shoutout to my Breastfeeding Buddies

Jen CC Tan’s I’m Breastfeeding, and That’s That! (Facebook and Twitter: @next9baby)

Project Blog by Kate’s Talk and Make it Happen (Facebook and Twitter: @kate_demetrio)

My Mommy Kwentos’ How I Recruited my Top Breastfeeding Buddies (Facebook)

Apples  & Dumplings Communicating and First Time Breastfeeders (Twitter: @apple_dumplings)

I’m a Newbie Wife’s How I Taught My Family to Breastfeed

Mec as Mom’s Pre-Natal Pediatric Consultations Are Necessary

Escie’s World’s Ready, Get Set, Go! for Breastfeeding (Twitter: @Escielicious)

Nanaystrip’s BreasTALK : Text, Retweet, Share your Knowledge and Experiences (Twitter: @bunsonimaestro)

Legally Mom’s Breastfeeding Talk Between Me and My Formula Fed Daughter (Facebook and Twitter: @legallymomPH

Chronicles of a Nursing Mom’s Effective Communication Bucket List (Facebookand Twitter: @mamababylove)



Love your cubicle

Posted in miscellaneous on August 13, 2011 by gohelpyourself

Designing cubicles is an art and science. (Photo by a_kartha from

By Anthony O. Alcantara

There’s got to be a formula for creating an ideal workplace. You can’t just put cubicles together and expect people to beg that they be allowed to live in them.

I found one promising formula recently while browsing an issue of the Harvard Business Review. It was from an article entitled “Who Moved My Cube?” by Anne-Laure Fayard and John Weeks. The title looked vaguely familiar. Then I remembered that there’s a book called “Who Moved My Cheese.” There must be something to these adaptations of titles. Maybe “Who Moved My Chair” is next.

Anyway, the authors of “Who Moved My Cube” found out that there are three “Ps” that should be present in an ideal workplace: proximity, privacy and permission.

Proximity means there should be shared spaces with shared resources such as coffee machines and photocopiers that allow informal chats. This can encourage innovation and exchange of ideas. I would like to add that people should also share other office tools that are much more intimate, such as ballpens, rulers and even chairs’ arm rests.

The conversations in these shared spaces can go something like this:

“Do you know that jerk at the engineering department?”

“Oh yeah, I’d love to wring his neck.”

“There’s an easy way to do that. Just feed his tie to the paper shredder.”

Yes, the paper shredder is indeed a very useful shared resource.

Privacy is pretty obvious. People must not be afraid of being interrupted or overheard. They must also be able to avoid interactions if they want to.

Here’s a sample scenario if this rule is violated:

“Have you heard that Dingba is having a relationship with Dibo the Gift Dragon?”

“Dibo the Gift Dragon? You mean that cartoon character who indiscriminately opens his zipper to surprise people? How did you know about that?”

“Dingba’s speakerphone is always on. Everyone knows except you.”

Permission means that the space itself as well as the company’s leaders and culture convey the message that casual conversation is encouraged.

Here’s a sample of open communication:

“Hi Mr. President. You said you have an open door policy, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Then why do you have an alarm that automatically goes off whenever I’m 10 meters away?”

“The alarm is especially designed to warn me when an idiot is nearby.”

And that is how most of us find solace in our cubicle.