Experts make the case for making yourself scarce.

By Meghan Overdeep
June 4, 2019
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From romantic relationships to career opportunities, most people struggle with a propensity towards overeagerness. After all, why wouldn’t you go after what you want?

While it may seem like common sense to eagerly pursue every opportunity that comes your way, studies have shown that playing a little hard to get has its advantages.

Frustrating as it may be, research supports the old adage that people want what they can’t have. As Robert Cialdini, a leading expert on influence, recently explained to The New York Times, it’s human nature to see opportunities as more valuable when they’re less available.

“What the scarcity principle says is that people are more attracted to those options or opportunities that are rare, unique or dwindling in availability,” Cialdini said. Basically, then we think something is limited to us, we tend to want it more.

Social psychologist Jeremy Nicholson likened it to economics:  if you’re in low supply and high demand, you’re worth more.

Experts say that the trick to using this to your advantage is to temper your excitement. You know, play it cool.  “Overeagerness can be a sign of naïveté or sound like plain desperation,” John Lees, a career strategist and author of How to Get a Job You Love, told the Times.

It’s also helpful to remind yourself of your value. That goes for personal and professional opportunities. According to Cialdini, having a firm understanding of how much your skills are worth will allow you to not rush after every opportunity that arises.

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If it feels scary to not immediately respond to that email or schedule that interview for the vert next day, it can be helpful keep in mind that your power in any situation is the ability to walk away, Liz Ryan, founder of Human Workplace, added.

“No one will value you more highly than you value yourself,” Ryan concluded.

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