Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion – By: Dr. Robert Cialdini
Eduttainable Idea 1
Our behaviour, whether we know it or not, is often automatic and triggered by cues. If we recognize these cues we can use them to influence others. If we don’t we may become victim of them. We all use tools of persuasion to help us navigate our daily lives. Often without realizing the true source of why we do what we do. It takes conscious effort to make clear distinctions when we are being influenced. Cialdini supports what might appear to be obvious human behaviour with a great deal of research, experimentation and statistical proof. For example, when we ask someone to do us a favour we will be more successful if we give them a reason why. What isn’t as obvious is that the reason we give does not even need to be a very good one. In fact, we are often triggered by the word “because”. In the book, an individual looking to make some photocopies had a 93% compliance rate even when providing no new information. Perceptual contrast in sales is something that many of us can recognize but don’t always appreciate it’s unconscious influential effect. For example, if someone is buying a suit for $1000 dollars, then a $95 sweater would be reasonable by comparison. Sales representatives will start with the most expensive item and work their way down to the least expensive. By contrast, you can afford to get something. Reciprocation is also worth mentioning in that not all exchanges are equal. When provided a gift, you may feel obliged to reciprocate. Given that reciprocation can trigger unfair exchanges, this compliance technique combined with perceptual contrast can be extremely powerful. It is also worth noting that one can achieve desirable side effects when making concessions when bargaining. A person who feels responsible to the terms of the contract and satisfied with the given arrangement are more likely to agree to further such arrangements. A favour should follow a favour, but if it is identified as a trick it can be easily avoided.
Eduttainable Idea 2
We are obsessed with being consistent with our commitments. We go to great lengths to maintain our commitments and appear consistent. We convince ourselves that we have made the right choice and stand by our decisions. We will do almost anything to keep our beliefs consistent with the past. This can often cause us to act contrary to our best interests. Most of the time consistency serves us. We are often better off if we approach things with consistency. This is exactly why automatic response creates a shortcut in our minds that can take us off track. Once we take a position we stubbornly stay consistent with our decision. In sales, if you can get a customer, no matter how small the order, they are no longer a prospect, they are a customer. A customer is more likely to make future decisions that are consistent. Small commitments can be used to change a persons self-image. Little by little, they will appear to be consistent with their small commitments which can easily increase into larger commitments. What other people think of us is important in what we think of ourselves. When someone views you as kind, you will more likely behave in a kind way to others. Testimonials help people reinforce their beliefs and are more likely to stay consistent. This is especially true if these testimonials are public. A public commitment can harden our position. A person’s private decision to lose weight is much more difficult to connect with then a public declaration. Written commitments are more effective than verbal ones. The more effort put into a commitment, the greater its influence on the person who made it. When people go through a great deal of pain and effort to get something, they value it much more than those that received it with minimal effort. When you don’t want to maintain consistency because someone is trying to manipulate you, simply acknowledge that you understand what the others person is doing. This will often be enough to deflect the power of influence. It’s also worth mentioning that the book discusses Social Proof great length. When a lot of people are doing something, we believe it’s the right thing to do. The greater the number of people who find an idea correct, the more it will be correct. Social Proof is strongest when we observe people who are just like us. We tend to look for Social Proof when we are uncertain. When we are uncertain we place a great deal of trust in the knowledge of the crowd.
10,000 feet view
If you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest you do! A few years ago I picked it up and only got through the first two chapters. For some reason I didn’t keep going. I recently interviewed a good friend who highly suggested that I give this book another try. It was sitting on my bookshelf for years and am I ever glad I picked it up again. Beyond reciprocity, consistency and social proof, the book goes into great detail on; liking, authority and scarcity. Even if you’ve read this book, it is worth reading again. The psychology of persuasion hasn’t changed since this book was written. So if you need to persuade in your life or business, this will help.