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Influence by Robert Cialdini
Influence The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Published in 1984 by HarperCollins Publishers, Robert Cialdini‘s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion outlines why people say ‘Yes,’ and offers 6 proven techniques that improve your ability to persuade others.

2/7. Reciprocation

The basis of reciprocation states that humans ‘should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.’ In society, a person who does not reciprocate will very quickly find him/herself without friends and be labeled as someone who takes advantage of others. This technique is so strong that humans will often go above and beyond what was initially given to them just to be rid of the pressure of repaying their ‘debt obligation’ to the other person. Furthermore, reciprocity can work even though the person did not ask for a favor: Simply doing a nice gesture for someone puts the receiver of the gesture into your debt at some point in the future.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Rory Sutherland‘s talk The Next Revolution Will Be Psychological Not Technical that three forms of currency relative to reciprocation include:

  • Sharing – “I give you something of mine with no expectation that you will return the favor.”
  • Tit-for-tat (TFT) asynchronous – “I’ll give you some of my fish because you’ve had a bad day on the expectation that you’ll return the favor in the future when I’ve had a bad day.”
  • Religious – “I will do good acts unquestionably on the assumption that I will be rewarded ultimately.”

In the 1972 movie The Godfather is a good example of obliging someone into reciprocity.]

4/7. Social Proof

When humans find themselves in a new environment and lack the experience and knowledge to know how to behave and fit in, they instinctively mimic those around around them who appear to. Even Cialdini uses this technique by placing “National Bestseller” and a quote from the reputable Journal of Marketing Research on the title of his book cover; If a well-respected organization and thousands of nationals have bought this book, then shouldn’t you too?

6/7. Authority

A human’s reputation is one of the most powerful assets he or she can possess. Once you’ve been identified as an authority figure, the average, unsuspecting person almost blindly believes what you say and does what you ask. This is especially true if you combine authority with social proof. “We are trained from birth,” Cialdini explains, “that obedience to proper authority is right and disobedience is wrong…. and once [humans] realize that obedience to authority is mostly rewarding, it is easy to allow ourselves the convenienc of automatic obedience.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on identifying yourself as an authority in business and in your career, check out:

BONUS! (Another psychological technique to persuade you) Cialdini’s new book Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade builds upon his original book Influence:

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on online persuasion and coldreading, check out: