Rigidity is a priming technique that consists of forcing the person do things a certain way. It. can include:

  • Forcing a person to apply using a form;
  • Forcing a person to book using your calendar;
  • Forcing a person to submit a document according to specific guidelines;

Underlying Psychology/Biases

Rigidity works due to two main reasons:

  • The first is breaking the person. When someone has to accept how you do things, they are instantly more qualified. They obey, in a way;
  • The second is the increased complexity of the process. Research shows that making a progress more complex makes less people start it, but out of the ones that do start it, more will finish;


There are usually three main ways to achieve this:

  • Having a rigid proess
    • Specific application forms, document formats, and so on;
    • The more rigid, the more qualified the person is;
    • Can be done by:
      • Specificity. Making a step of the process more specific;
        • Instead of “Call me anytime”, “Call me from 4-6 PM”;
      • Obstacles. Adding additional steps;
        • Instead of “Invite me to any meeting”, “Send the topics beforehand, and if I validate them, I’ll join the meeting”;
  • Unexpected rigidity
    • At the last minute, saying, “There’s actually one more thing I need you to do”;
    • More hardcore and polarizing, but even better as a qualifier;
    • For example, arriving late, or saying before a meeting, “I’m actually not available today, please reschedule”;
  • Being rigid as a person
    • For example, Steve Jobs;
    • Having unreasonable demands from others, and filtering who doesn’t meet your standards;


  • Support systems
    • They are very rigid. You must search for articles first, attest that none of them fixed your issue, submit a ticket, pick from a pre-chosen list of topics… and probably receive a pre-formatted reply;
  • Application systems
    • For universities, consultants, government processes, etc;
    • You must submit the documents in a specific form and be compared to other people;
  • Saying, “I have to reschedule
    • A great example of unexpected rigidity. Some people will be angry and leave. But those that are not will tolerate you, and be even more qualified;
  • Rolling limitations
    • A product being limited only at specific times of the month or year. Fake scarcity;
    • Those that obey these limitations can buy from you/improve the relationship, and are more qualified than someone that can buy/do anytime;
  • Setter calls
    • When someone is applying to you, not you showing up on the first call, but having a “setter” that vets and tests the person;
    • Usually this setter just builds up hype and asks qualification questions such as, “Do you promise to obey the consultant’s authority?”. Qualifies the person a lot more;
  • Compliance and policies
    • One of the departments with most power within any company is compliance, because they define rigidly what every other department must follow;
    • Likewise, having specific policies for things. “We can’t fit you before you make the payment. It’s policy”;

Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways

  • Rigidity is usually expected, as part of a system, unexpected, thrown at the last minute to qualify the person more, or as a person, just due to how you are and the demands you make from others;
  • Automation works very well. A rigid system can automate the qualification of people through rigidity. Applications, support systems, policies;
  • As with many other techniques, you can use this to any extent. You can be a little bit rigid to qualify more, or hardcore rigid to filter out and qualify most people;