Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

It would be great to think individuals consider all available knowledge when making a decision. But very often, the truth is different. More than ever, we need shortcuts or rules of thumb to direct our decision-making in the constantly overloaded lives we lead. Understanding these shortcuts and using them in an ethical and effective way will greatly improve your likelihood of success.

Influence is authority. When the circumstance dictates, we want to be able to use it. The fact is, thanks to research done over the years, this is more realistic than you might have imagined.  Persuasion is pervasive in daily life. In this article, however, we suggest that we still know very little about the real manifestations of convincing behavior. By taking a broad approach to the study of people’s everyday lives, we re-specify persuasion as a concrete, placed an interactive accomplishment, rather than beginning from a conceptualization of it as an outcome of invisible cognitive processes.

Have you heard about Robert Cialdini’s Influence?  He is the mind behind Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the great and lasting works of social psychology. The work of Cialdini is among the best guides in the world as to how we convince others and how we are persuaded. While many individuals believe that persuasion is an art, psychologists have been studying how individuals react to attempts to influence their actions for decades. Robert Cialdini explores the creation and interpretation of what he calls the six universal principles of power in his formidable body of study.

The six concepts of power that will help you convince others are:

  • Reciprocity: Simply offering what you want to obtain is one of the most fundamental concepts of power. In other words, a decent way to get others to help you is to do right by others. This reciprocity principle is a strong one. So, a good approach is to support people at all times and be kind while you have the chance because you never know how it will help you down the road. In addition, if you need a favor yourself, it is these little acts of kindness that will be remembered and come in handy. Share resources and knowledge you have with others that could use them.
  • Consistency: The theory of consistency is based on the power of commitments that are involved, public, and voluntary, resulting in people actually sticking to their promise. Let’s walk in a little more depth through these criteria. An active engagement is the first element. By Involved, Cialdini implies something written or spoken to by others. Making people say they’re going to do something is a start, but they’re far more likely to follow through when they consciously commit to it.
  • Social Evidence: In many cases, people rely on social cues from others about how to think, feel, and act. And not only any individuals, but peers they consider identical to themselves. This is a central point and what is referred to as social facts. Individuals are more likely to follow the lead of others.
  • Liking: People like others who like them or who they perceive as friends. It is an idea that is easy, but strong. In a few different ways, the concept of liking can be used. One approach is finding common ground and rapport with the individuals you encounter. Ask about their hobbies and goals; show genuine interest in them.
  • Authority: There are a variety of ways for power to be created. A fast and simple one is to make all diplomas, qualifications, and awards visible to build your history in the office or workplace. This may not always be a choice, of course. Another way is to express expertise exchanged in casual conversations through brief stories or context details.
  • Scarcity: People appreciate what is scarce. It’s just clear demand and supply. They become more important to others as things become scarcer. In order to convince others, there are a few ways you can use the theory of scarcity. One is simply to make limited-time, limited-supply, or one-time deals, which generates a sense of scarcity right away. At the same time, how you present those opportunities often matters. The message becomes clearer if you focus more on the language of loss or language that shows what you are going to lose out on rather than gain.

In his own writing, Cialdini is explicit that these concepts of influence should be used from a position of good, with the influence being authentic, true, and guiding others, not only for themselves but for everyone else, to make the right decisions. We plan to read the entire book and better understand influence since it is so key to our success!  What are your favorite influential techniques?