Recently, I had the privilege of hearing Robert Cialdini interviewed about his updated edition of Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion. Influence is a seminal book on ethical persuasion and getting people to “yes”, based on a groundbreaking body of research and field study. It’s a classic, must read for understanding people in all walks of life.
I have read the original edition, which provides 6 principles for profound transformation and success. In his new and expanded edition, Cialdini adds a 7th principle.
Revisiting Cialdini’s work has reminded me of how powerful they are and how instrumental they have been, not only to my success, but to many of my clients’ success as well. I wanted to share Cialdini’s story and work with you so you too can benefit from his genius.
Cialdini first started studying influence because he knew the “influence wars were being waged” in the real world, and they were principles that were being practiced on him by professional marketing and sales people. Initially, he delved into them to understand, so that he could recognize and resist when they were being used to persuade him.
But as he continued his work, he realized that there was an opportunity available to teach others how to harness the process in a morally responsible way, to be used to help people and not to take advantage of them.
These 7 principles have always driven behavior in the human species, so if you’re someone who is interested in practicing their power, make sure you wield them ethically when moving people in your direction.
Here’s a brief overview of the principles:
1. Reciprocation. People want to say yes to those who have given to them. Whether a favor, service, or gift, the idea is to give back and pay in kind. Not only because we want to, but because we feel an obligation to, which is a system of indebtedness that is unique to human culture.
2. Commitment and Consistency. This principle relates to being congruent with what we’ve made a commitment to, particularly in public. “It’s our nearly obsessive desire as humans to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done”, Cialdini says. “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
3. Social Proof. This is the follow the leader of correct behavior principle, acting in accord with social cues. We generally view an action as more appropriate when we see others doing it.
4. Liking. There is no mystery here. We are drawn to people we like. The likeability factor of a person enhances a feeling of rapport and can move us to comply with endless requests by others.
5. Authority. This concept has to do with a “deep-seated sense of duty to authority within all of us”. We tend to trust authority figures. The words, influence and encouragement of expert authority reduces uncertainty and makes persuading easier.
6. Scarcity. When we believe something is in short supply we want it more. In fact, it can drive people crazy – just think of Black Friday sales in the US.
7. Unity. The newest tool in your persuasion arsenal is your identity with a particular group. When you are a member of a larger community, influence barriers come down for your fellow groupies and they are more apt to trust and engage in what you have to say and offer.
If you present the merits of your case in an optimal, morally responsible way, you can access a huge power source within people that can trigger an automatic response and move people your way.
If you’re going to read one book on influence and persuasion, this is the one I would recommend!
With heart and brilliant persuasion,