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INFLUENCE: Exploring the Psychology of Persuasion

“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.” — Robert Cialdini

I have seen many people in the world manipulated by different people whether it’s

  • business,

  • job or

  • relationship, etc.

Today I am going to explain why and how people manipulate others to achieve their objectives.

In 1984, a book called “Influence: the psychology of persuasion” was written by Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist who unveiled the secrets of human psychology.

This book shares insight into the delicate art of persuasion and empowers individuals to influence the decisions of others ethically.

These insights are called “6 Principles of Persuasion,” or loosely "Cialdini Principles" which teach how to manipulate ethically, effectively, and hassle-free positively.

But if you know these principles you can quickly figure out the intention of your opponent who can be anyone either your spouse, boss, employee, or relatives.

Robert Cialdini’s 6 Influence Principles of Psychology persuasion

Let's learn these 6 Cialdini principles which are by far the most world-class mental models of human psychology.

Let's read one by one.

Robert Cialdini's 6 Influence Principles of Psychology of persuasion
Robert Cialdini's 6 Influence Principles of Psychology of persuasion

Principle 1: Reciprocity

Did you ever notice how you’re automatically inclined to return a favor when someone did something nice to you before?

It’s a default human nature called “Reciprocity”.

Examples are:

  • Helping your friends without expecting,

  • Give things to your relatives,

  • Support your peers by sharing information,

  • Waiters may deliver mints with the bill,

  • Workshop facilitators may distribute cookies while soliciting feedback,

  • leaders may provide a team excursion immediately before issuing the annual engagement survey,

  • Share your knowledge freely and promote others.

All of these behaviors are saying, “I scratched your back, now scratch mine.”

To apply the rule of reciprocity in your favor, you must be the first to act and provide someone with a unique and unexpected gift.

The value of the gift is, to some extent, secondary to the act of giving itself.

“Be as precise as possible about your need for aid.” — Robert Cialdini

Principle 2: Consistency

Human loves commitment and consistency more than anything else and that's why consistency is marketed as a law of Success.

  • Use the same route to work,

  • Open the same mobile application daily,

  • Follow the successful people to copy their same strategy,

  • Daily posting on social media and blogging platforms.

To some sense, we can conceive of this as a salami-slicing persuasive method.

If I can get you to do one small thing, I can get you to do another small thing that is similar.

You will then do a larger one. And before you know it, you’ve consumed the entire salami.

We see this type of behavior all the time in the marketplace with things like beginning offers that are inexpensive and simple, but they become a gateway to something else.

Similarly, product giveaways might have the same effect.

“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.” — Robert Cialdini

Principle 3: Social Proof

Interestingly all human decisions are influenced by this powerful principle.

For Example:

  • Customer Testimonials on the website,

  • Successful person as proof to perform certain tasks,

  • 47 out of 50 hotel guests who stay choose to reuse their towels,

  • Charities spend a lot of time displaying how other people have contributed.

Surprisingly, the more socially particular these types of communications are, the more powerful they are.

This notion of consensus or social proof is difficult to apply from a personal standpoint in the workplace, but it may be able to do so by managing your reputation and personal brand.

“First, we seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t.” — Robert Cialdini

Principle 4: Authority

Authority is another weapon used since history generally by experts, politicians, and rich people. Remember that people believe in experts.

Examples are:

  • Dentists in white coats are used to promote toothpaste,

  • Airline employees wear uniforms to remind us of their authority,

  • Email signatures are attached with a string of qualifications in an attempt to improve the individual’s authority.

In reality, promoting one’s own creativity and authority is less successful than allowing others to do so.

Surprisingly, it appears that it makes no difference who that other person is.

Even if the person promoting you is known to profit directly from doing so, their words of encouragement increase the impact and persuasiveness of your message.

This means that, while trust and credibility are important in the workplace, it is also possible to gain some of that authority through the recommendations and nice words of others.

It could be beneficial to ask people to recommend you or recommend others so that they feel forced to recommend you in return.

“Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds.” — Robert Cialdini

Principle 5: Liking

This principle is based on our natural tendency to agree with (and buy from) people we like.


  • I will buy from you if you are related to me,

  • He talks my language so I like him,

  • He listens to my concern that's why I like him.

  • He avoids negativity so I like to listen.

Consider that being approachable and sympathetic is the most effective technique to earn affection.

To use this method in the workplace, you just need to get the approval of people around you as well as those you wish to persuade or influence.

You may do this through cooperating with others, really complimenting others, recognizing similarities, and creating connections.

The key idea here is that you must first build these relationships and achieve this “liking” before you can try to persuade others.

If you try to get loved after you’ve started trying to influence others, your attempts will fail.

“Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence.” — Robert Cialdini

Principle 6: Scarcity

Last but not least, by using scarcity factors, you can generate a sense of urgency, leading to increased sales.


  • Two examples are limited-time offers and invite-only discounts.

  • Companies will utilize “limited time offers” to make things appear to be in low supply to increase purchasing frequency.

  • Pay notice the next time you shop on Amazon to see if they’re employing this strategy.

  • It’s remarkable how, no matter what pair of shoes you choose, there are ALWAYS “only 2 pairs left!”

  • People are more likely to want something uncommon or scarce if you offer it.

  • We are inclined to desire what is forbidden.

This idea may be seen in a wide range of markets. For example, “only 5 seats left at this price” is a common statement on online hotel and travel booking sites.

They use this to establish a sense of scarcity (together with the closely related time limitation).

Consumer goods companies also create “limited edition” versions of their items. They do this with anything from hand soap to shoes, generating scarcity by restricting supply.

In the workplace, you may create a sense of scarcity around your availability. This may pique people’s curiosity about what you have to offer. Of course, not everyone is capable of doing so.

“Our typical reaction to scarcity hinders our ability to think.” — Robert Cialdini


After reading the above you can understand now Robert Cialdini's influence summary.

So, stop being manipulated and influenced by others by focusing on these concepts.

I hope you enjoyed these six principles of influence.

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