Notes on influence by Robert Cialdini

I have had Influence by Robert Cialdini on Kindle for a long time but only managed to finish its audio version recently. It was a fairly long listen that last about 10 hours. The narration is superb which makes for a particularly enjoyable listen

Summary

The book goes over 5 influence tactics that are based on human psychology. What amazing is that these tactics are extremely effective yet because they tap into human psychology, they can work their magic without being detected by their victims

The different influence strategies are:

Reciprocation

If you do a favor for someone, they will likely go out of their way to return the favor

Commitment & consistency

Once a person make a commitment or a stand, personal and interpersonal pressure will force us to stay consistent with our previous commitment. Agreeing to a small request may appear to be inconsequential but it is a form of commitment and it will make it much more likely that our future action will be consistent with the prior commitment.
How to say no: Ask yourself if knowing what you now know, would you make that choice in the first place.
For example: if an attractive woman approaches and asks you to do a survey about your social activities. After you have answered that you love wine, like to watch ballet, etc… She then proceed to sell you a membership program that will save your money doing those activities because “after all, why would a person like yourself not want to save money on doing activities that you just said you enjoy tremendously.”
To say no to this request, you need to ask yourself this: “If I know this woman’s motive is to sell me the subscription and not to survey, would you agree to buy the subscription?” This would free your brain from the prior commitment and let it make the most logical choice

Social proof

We see a behavior as more correct if we see other people doing it. This is also called herd behavior and we can see it in many real life situation from canned laughter in TV sitcoms to advertising showing people raving about a product.
How to say no: While not all herd behavior is bad because in most situation, it saves our brain from expensing its limited energy in analyzing every situation that we’re in to find the the most logical course of action. However, we need to realize that the social proof is falsified to get us to comply to something that we would not normally do. It’s of course easier said than done

Liking

We tend to agree to people that we like. Liking can be attributed to many reasons

  • Physical attractiveness: We like people that are good looking
  • Similarity: We like people that are similar to us
  • Compliments: We like people that compliments us. Hello there, Dale Carnegie!
  • Condition & association: We like people that are usually associated with good things. For example: A Persian messenger who comes with news of victory and liked and are treated with wine and women. Had he had come with news of defeat, death will be there waiting for him

  How to say no: Keep your feeling for the requester and the request separate. If you like the requester, keep in mind that you don’t have to like the request.

Authority

We follow people with authority. An excellent example that the author provided is an actor who is known to portrait a doctor is then casted to advertise a toothpaste brand. He is deemed as an authority in medical field due to the role that he plays not because of his real profession or degree. Yet, the advertising is so successful that it’s one of the longest running advertising.
How to say no: Question yourself if this expert is truly an expert in whatever he’s trying to convince you to do? Also think about what the so-called expert stand to gain if he has my corporation.

Scarcity

We like things a lot more if it’s scarce. Something new that I learned reading the book is we like things most when it’s used to be abundant but is now scarce. That explains why parents that aren’t consistent with their reward & rules have the most rebellious children. The children just think that whatever that they used to have is their freedom or right and get really mad if that is taken away.
How to say no: Question yourself if you like the item for its utility or just to have it? Most likely the former. If so, whether or not it’s scarce doesn’t affect its utility to you.

My thoughts

Many strategies to get people to like you that are used in day to day networking come straight from this 6 rules of influence. For example: If you chat up with someone new, you need to find the commonality between you. That’s to induce liking due to similarity. Then you should seek out to help them. Most of the time, you’re told to do that just for the sake of helping another person. But you got to agree that it’s a reciprocal playbook.

Something that I may do differently after reading the book

  1. Dress my part. People that are well dress will portray authority and may even cause liking due to physical attractiveness. Definitely doesn’t hurt
  2. Pay attention to sale pitch. It’s fascinating when I rethink about all the sale pitch that I have listened to. All of they use some of these rule without fail.
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