Six Ways to Influence People

I just read a great Cliff’s notes version of book Influence by Robert Cialdini. Here is a rundown on six principles to influence people. I recommend reading the whole paper (pdf). I’m going to check out the book myself, too.

Principle #1: Reciprocation 

Reciprocation recognizes that people feel indebted to those who do something for them or give them a gift.

Principle #2: Social Proof 

When people are uncertain about a course of action, they tend to look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions. They especially want to know what everyone else is doing – especially their peers.

Principle #3: Commitment and Consistency 

People do not like to back out of deals. We’re more likely to do something after we’ve agreed to it verbally or in writing, Cialdini says. People strive for consistency in their commitments. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions.
Interesting side note: The older we get, the more we value consistency. And that makes it harder for older people to make a change.
(Researcher Stephanie Brown co-authored a 2005 study titled “Evidence of a positive relationship between age and preference for consistency,” published in the Journal of Research in Personality. The study confirmed the belief that older people become “set in their ways.”)

Principle #4: Liking 

“People prefer to say ‘yes’ to those they know and like,” Cialdini says. People are also more likely to favor those who are physically attractive, similar to themselves, or who give them compliments. Even something as ‘random’ as having the same name as your prospects can increase your chances of making a sale.

Principle #5: Authority 

People respect authority. They want to follow the lead of real experts. Business titles, impressive clothing, and even driving an expensive, high-performing automobile are proven factors in lending credibility to any individual.

Principle #6: Scarcity 

In fundamental economic theory, scarcity relates to supply and demand. Basically, the less there is of something, the more valuable it is. The more rare and uncommon a thing, the more people want it. Familiar examples are frenzies over the latest holiday toy or urban campers waiting overnight to pounce on the latest iPhone.

I’m looking to utilize this knowledge in positive way in my coaching. Often people know very well what they want or need to do, they just can’t get themselves doing it. These principles offer possible leverage to change that.

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