4 Key Takeaways From Influence

In the New York Times Bestseller, psychology Professor Robert B Cialdini uses his thirty-five years of research to explain the psychology of why people say yes. This book explains the how and why of automatic influence. He breaks down the six components of any skilled persuader so anyone can ethically get anyone to say yes, in business or every day life or detect manipulation.

My key Takeaways from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Takeaway #1 We Feel The Need to Reciprocate

We're more willing to do people a favor if they give us a reason – Any reason and if someone does us a favor we feel the need to return it, even if we don't like the person.

A powerful persuasion technique that we fall for time and time again is that of the rejection-then-retreat technique. It can either be done through negotiating a price – Starting at a higher (or lower) price that you know will be rejected and then conceding and saying a more realistic price. The other person also has to concede from their starting point and meets you in the middle. Or by you rejecting a higher priced item but feeling bad at saying no and so then buying the cheaper offered option.

Takeaway #2 We Can't Say No To Scarcity

Scarcity is another trick that our brains can't resist – Think how many times a 'Limited Stock', 'Last Chance To Buy' or 'Sale Ending Tomorrow' message has forced you to buy a product because you were scared you wouldn't find it at that price again and didn't want to miss out! Real estate agents do it too by saying there are other bidders interested which might force you to make the offer that day in case someone else snags it before you!

Humans are also susceptible for wanting what they cannot have, just think about a kid who has been told they can't have that toy or chocolate bar and how much teens and adults want that love that's forbidden!

Takeaway #3 Following The Crowd

When we're unsure how to act or react, we look to those around us to see what they're doing. Because it's natural for us to react like this we can be manipulated – Think about the canned laughter on sitcoms, are you meant to find that joke funny? There's a background of laughter so yes, you should laugh now. Companies will often use the phrases 'best-selling' or 'fastest-growing' to encourage you to buy since it seems everyone else is buying that item too.

People who are similar to us greatly influence our choices, just think about following fashion trends with your peers or going to a Tupperware party with friends. But social proof can also have a negative effect – In an emergency, if you're not sure how to react and look to others around you who are also unsure and doing nothing, you're more likely to do nothing too.

Takeaway #4 We Obey Authority

We are taught from a very young age to obey authority without question and it becomes so ingrained in us that this authority negates independent thinking. As adults we don't even need to see symbols of authority (i.e the police badge or nurse's uniform) we use titles to identify the person's authority over us, being more respectful to a professor or doctor than to someone without a professional title. We have to be careful that the person in question is not masquerading as an authority figure to gain our trust and to question what that person tells us to do if it feels wrong to us.

In-Depth Insight

We Empathize and Comply With People We Like

Have you ever been to a Tupperware Party, an Avon event, or an Ann Summers Party? If you answered yes, you’ll have witnessed, perhaps unknowingly, the power of some masterfully crafted compliance tricks in action. Social proof is one such compliance trick that you’re now well aware of (“everyone else is buying, so I better purchase something, too” reciprocity is also in action at these events I’ve been invited to this event with drinks and nibbles, and I’ve been given a free gift, so I better buy something to reciprocate”). But the greatest trick you won’t have spotted up until now is that the companies themselves don’t invite you—a friend, family member, or acquaintance does! We’re more receptive to the people we like so, of course, you’re going to “go along” to the party as moral support, to keep them company, as a favor to them.

That’s just the beginning, though. These companies know that people love flattery and enjoy mixing with like-minded people, so the salesperson will often be told to dish out the compliments, so that people like them; this is known as the halo effect. Once you like someone, you’ll trust them, think they’re kind, smart, and honest, and then you’ll buy from them—job done!

The halo effect isn’t just something that compliance professionals use; it is also used in presidential elections to get people to think they’re all on the same team or working towards a shared goal.

It goes even deeper than this. We associate people with information, so you may dislike a person simply because they were the bearer of bad news. Watch out that your brain doesn’t get confused: if you’re watching someone talk on TV whilst eating delicious food, you may associate the person with pleasure and like them. In this case, it’s not their words that are making you like them, it’s the food you’re eating. So next time you find yourself thinking you made a new friend and liking someone that you haven’t known long, make sure you’re not being manipulated, whether by them or another factor.

Key Points from Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

  • Humans' brains use mental shortcuts and fixed-action patterns in order to save energy. This causes us to respond in the same, predictable way to everyday experiences.
  • While these mental shortcuts can be useful, they can also be easily manipulated and exploited by companies and unethical marketers and salespeople.
    Some of the most used psychological principles of influence are:

  • 1. Reciprocity - We’re likely to return the favor when we receive something from others.
  • 2. Consistency - Once we’ve committed to something, we usually conform to that commitment.
  • 3. Social proof - We are heavily influenced by the actions of others.
  • 4. Likeability - We are more easily influenced by individuals we like and see as trustworthy.
  • 5. Authority - We have a tendency to comply with and be influenced by people in positions of authority.
  • 6. Scarcity - We attach more value to things that are scarce and few in quantity.
  • Critical thinking and deep reasoning help us consider what is in our best interest.



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Influence Chapters

Chapter One - Weapons of Influence
Chapter Two - Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take... and Take
Chapter Three - Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind
Chapter Four - Social Proof: Truth Are Us
Chapter Five - Liking: The Friendly Thief
Chapter Six - Authority: Directed Deference
Chapter Seven - Scarcity: The Rule of the Few
Chapter Eight - Epilogue Instant Influence: Primitive Consent of an Automatic Age


Best Quotes from Influence

“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

“Where all think alike, no one thinks very much." —WALTER LIPPMANN

“Embarrassment is a villain to be crushed.”

“Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.”

“We all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided”

“There is a natural human tendency to dislike a person who brings us unpleasant information, even when that person did not cause the bad news. The simple association with it is enough to stimulate our dislike.”

“Persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort.”

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”

“People seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.”

“Freedoms once granted will not be relinquished without a fight.”

“The truly gifted negotiator, then, is one whose initial position is exaggerated enough to allow for a series of concessions that will yield a desirable final offer from the opponent, yet is not so outlandish as to be seen as illegitimate from the start.”

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." —ALBERT EINSTEIN

― Robert B. Cialdini - Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion


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Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.

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