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Six Principles To Elevate Your Influence

Monday 17 April, 2017
It was Dr Robert Cialdini's own experience of being easy picking to peddlers, fundraisers and operators that first drove him to write the 1984 classic; Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller answers the age-old question... 'What makes people say ‘YES?’

Six Principles To Elevate Your InfluenceCialdini debunks the belief that successful negotiation or influencing skills are luck, magic or innate but in fact based on social science. The result; every individual can achieve extraordinary levels of mastery. His work has become a blue print for sales, marketers and corporate representatives across the globe.

Cialdini's theory of influence is based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity.

Six key principles of influence

  • Reciprocity: ‘The old give and take.... and take”

    The act of giving can be used very effectively to gain another's compliance. The feeling of indebtedness overcomes ordinary objection. By first giving, our prospect is obligated to repay favours, gifts, invitations and the like. The rule of reciprocation and the sense of obligation is extremely persuasive in human society.

    For aspiring persuaders, Cialdini says: "The implication is you have to go first. Give something: information, free samples, a positive experience and they will want to give you something in return."

  • Commitment and consistency

    We like to be people of our word. People are more likely to do something when agreed to in writing or verbally. As Cialdini says “People strive for consistency in their commitments. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions.”

    So, what’s the implication for the persuader? People want to be consistent and true to their word. Encouraging a customer, prospect or colleague to commit publicly makes them more likely to follow through.

    Interestingly, age matters. The phrase ‘set in their ways’ rings true to Cialdini’s studies, the older we get the more we value consistency.

    Takeaway for the persuader: Applaud your prospect’s past decisions and stress the consistent values connecting old actions and purchase with values underlying new actions.

    The power of consistency is formidable in directing human action.

  • Social proof

    In moments of uncertainty, people look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions, especially their peers. Funny movies are far funnier when watched with others, this is because of social proof. Our subconscious instinct to laugh is prompted by the actions of others.

    This principle of influence works best under certain conditions. "Without question, when people are uncertain they are more likely to use the actions of others to decide how they themselves should act."

    The persuader's application: Use testimonials from satisfied customers that most closely match your target audience.

  • Authority

    We all want to follow the leader. People want to follow experts. Business titles, expensive clothing, flashy cars are proven factors in creating credibility with individuals. Giving the appearance of authority increases the likelihood that others will comply with your requests. Regardless of the legitimacy.

    Takeaways: 'Don’t dress for the job you have but the one you want' is a real thing.

    Use testimonials from legitimate, recognised authorities to persuade your prospects. In moments of uncertainty people will look to these as guidance.

  • Liking the 'friendly thief'

    Unsurprisingly we are more inclined to say ‘yes’ to requests of people we know and like. Furthermore, people are more likely to favour those who are aesthetically pleasing, similar to themselves or give them compliments. Cialdini states, even something as random as having the same name as your prospect can increase your chances of making a sale.

    Actions for persuaders: Be more knowledgeable about your prospects preferences. Cialdini contends “One of the things that marketers can do is honestly report on the extent to which the product or service - or the people who are providing the product or service - are similar to the audience and know the audience’s challenges, preferences."

  • Scarcity - 'The rule of few'

    The rule of supply and demand. People want what they can’t have. The less of something, the more valuable it is. The more rare or uncommon, the more people want it. Consider the crazy lines of people camping out to claim limited edition shoes or the latest iPhone.

    Persuader application: Prospects are more sensitive to the possibility of missing out than possible gains. Use language that draws this out.

Author Credits


We live in a world where those who are the most persuasive are the most prosperous. How successful you are in your professional and personal life depends on your ability to influence others. Robert Cialdini, has spent his entire career researching the science of influence earning him an international reputation as the seminal expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation.

Dr Cialdini’s book Influence: Science & Practice, hailed as a business classic has sold over three million copies and been translated into 30 languages. Influence brought science to the art of persuasion, and set out the famed Six Principles of Influence, now widely used by successful CEOs and their teams. His new book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade - listed as one of the top business books of 2016 - quickly became a Wall Street Journal and a New York Times Bestseller.

The Growth Faculty - known for bringing the world’s most strategic thinkers to Australia - is proud to host Robert Cialdini supported by Steve Martin, certified trainer, author of The Small Big, and co-author of Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion. To find out more visit http://www.thegrowthfaculty.com.au/book-now?event=904&map=0012000000IHbJV

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