26The Law of Familiarity

After seeing a lot of the world, I now tend to return to the same spots. I enjoy the familiarity.

—Louise Nurding, singer

Staff Sergeant Sanchez plays pickup basketball three days a week at a local high school. It keeps him in shape and in touch.

During these early-morning, before-school pickup games, Sanchez interacts with potential recruits on an entirely different level. He competes, jokes, and listens. He becomes familiar to the students and moves into their “in-group.”

They open up to him and introduce him to their friends. In hallways at school they smile and say hello. At after-school functions and athletic competitions, they freely introduce him to their parents. During events at school and in the community, they walk up to his table and say hello.

Sanchez is a reliably consistent producer. More than half of his enlistments come directly from the relationships he makes playing basketball.

The in-group preference (also called the similarity bias) causes your prospects to believe that people who are more familiar or more like them are more trustworthy and believable than people who are not. You know this to be true as surely as you know the sun will come up in the morning, because you face and fight this bias every day of your life.

Each of us lives and operates in a familiarity bubble. We are more comfortable with people, places, and things inside our familiarity bubble and less comfortable with things outside our familiarity bubble. Your ...

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