The six universal principles of influence

Robert Cialdini Phd, is a leading authority on the science of influence. In this interview he shares with us the six universal principles of influence and helps us understand how they work.
Written by Vince Thompson, Contributing Editor on

When it comes to understanding influence, Robert Cialdini, PhD, a social psychologist and distinguished professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, is a leading authority. His New York Times bestselling books have sold over 2 million copies and his book, Influence: Science and Practice, has been named one of the best business books of all time by CEO Read. His latest book, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive has been on the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

We were delighted to have Dr. Cialdini join us over the summer and today would like to revisit the six universal principles he taught us.

Dr. Cialdini, when it comes to influence what are the principles that we can rely on?

There are six universal principles of influence. If we use them as touchstones, they will allow us to be significantly more successful in our influence attempts. They are:

• Reciprocation. People give back to you the kind of treatment that they’ve received from you. If you do something first by giving something of value—be it more information or a positive attitude—it will all come back to you.

• Scarcity. People will try to seize those opportunities that you offer them that are rare or dwindling in availability. This is an important reminder that we need to differentiate what we have to offer that is different from our rivals and competitors. That way, we can tell people honestly “You can only get this aspect or this feature by moving in our direction.”

• Authority. People will be most persuaded by you when they see you as having knowledge and credibility on the topic. You’d be surprised how many fail to properly inform their audience of their genuine credentials before launching into an influence attempt. That’s a big mistake.

• Commitment. People will feel a need to comply with your request if they see that it’s consistent with what they’ve publicly committed themselves to in your presence. The implication there is to ask people to state their true priorities, commitments and features of the situation that they think are most important. Then align your requests or proposals with those things. The rule for consistency will cause them to want to say yes to what they’ve already told you they value.

• Liking. People prefer to say yes to your request to the degree that they know and like you. No surprise there but a simple way to make that happen is to uncover genuine similarities or parallels that exist between you and the person you want to influence. That person is going to like you more and be more willing to move in your direction.

• Consensus. People will be likely to say yes to your request if you give them evidence that people just like them have been saying yes to it too. I saw recent study that showed if a restaurant owner puts on the menu “This is our most popular item” than it immediately becomes more popular

To learn more about Dr. Cialdini and his work, Click Here

To read our earlier interview with Dr. Cialdini, Click Here

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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