Sunday, September 23, 2018

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (2006) by Robert B. Cialdini, Book Review

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (2006) by Robert B. Cialdini

This is interesting, Cialdini writes, "What I'm talking about is pre-suasion, directing their minds to the moment before they experience the content. There's this interesting study. A guy goes to a shopping mall in France. And he tries to get women's phone numbers as they pass various shops so he could call for a date. But in neither of those cases was he very successful. He only got a number 13% of the time. But there was one kind of shop that doubled his success rate when women were passing it, a flower shop. Why? Because flowers put women in the mindset of romance." Wow! I love to learn psychology and the human mind. When I listened to Les Brown, my favorite motivational speaker, he had a list of books he recommended. Top 10 on his list was this book, which was a really fascinating and enlightening read. It reminds me why being a skeptic and a cynic sometimes are so valuable and necessary – particularly in today's world.

In my observation, today the word "persuasion," especially in the Christian circles, have a very negative connotation. Sometimes we (wrongly) equate it with "deception" or "intimidation" – but not so. There are principles of persuasion that are both moral and ethical (In Acts 28:23, it is written that Paul "explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade [others] about Jesus from the Scripture." This is not a Christian book, but what I'm trying to say is that there is such a thing as ethical persuasion). In this book, Robert Cialdini, a well-known expert in the field of influence and persuasion, outline 6 Ethical Principles that are helpful not just for sales people but for anyone who wants to become a skilled persuader:

#1 RECIPROCITY. "In many social situations, we pay back what we received from others." When you offer something first, people will feel a sense of indebtedness, which will make them more likely to comply with your subsequent requests. We're deeply wired to be reciprocal. There are three factors that will make this principle more effective: 1) Offer something first – allow them to feel indebted to you; 2) Offer something exclusive – allow them to feel special; 3) Personalize the offer – make sure they know it's from you.

#2 COMMITMENT & CONSISTENCY. "We tend to stick with whatever we've already chosen." We are bombarded with hundreds of choices to make every single day. For convenience, we simply make a single decision and then stick to it for all subsequently related choices. Cialdini suggests three ways to leverage off this principle in sales setting: 1) Ask your customers to start from small actions – so they'll have to stick to it; 2) Encourage public commitments – they'll be less likely to back out; and 3) Reward your customers for investing time and effort in your brand.

#3 SOCIAL PROOF. "We tend to have more trust in things that are popular or endorsed by people that we trust." For examples, we tend to trust more on experts – approval from credible experts in the relevant field; or celebrities – approval or endorsements from celebrities (paid or unpaid); or users – approval from current/past users (ratings, reviews and testimonials); or ‘wisdom of crowds' – approval from large groups of other people; or peers – approval from friends and people you know, etc.

#4 LIKING. "We are more likely to comply with requests made by people we like." That can range from our closest friends to complete strangers that we are attracted to. This explains why we trust word-of-mouth recommendations from our peers, as well as stuff endorsed by our favorite artists. In marketing line, the Liking principle work like these: 1) Physical attractiveness – make your website well-designed, function and suit what you're selling; 2) Similarity – behave like a friend, not a brand. Show them that you can relate to, and understand them; 3) Compliments – have a voice; use social media platforms not to broadcast, but hold intimate conversations and form relationships with your customers; 4) Contact and Cooperation – fight for the same causes as your customers. Nothing builds rapport and closeness like good old-fashioned teamwork; and 5) Conditioning and Association – associate your brands with the same values that you want to communicate and possess.

#5 AUTHORITY. "We follow people who look like they know what they're doing." This holds especially true in fields where we aren't experts. Most headlines utilize this principle by including phrases like "Scientists say", "Experts say" or "Research shows". You can give off the air of authority if you pay attention of these factors: 1) Titles – positions of power/experience; 2) Clothes – superficial cues that signal authority; and 3) Trappings – accessories/indirect cues that accompany authoritative roles

#6 SCARCITY. "We are always drawn to things that are exclusive and hard to come by." We assume that things that are difficult to obtain are usually better than those that are easily available. We link availability to quality. You can learn to trigger your customers' sense of urgency with these methods: 1) Limited-number – item is in short supply and won't be available once it runs out; 2) Limited-time – item is only available during that time period; 3) One-of-a-kind special offers – sometimes utilize one or both of the above techniques. Also from one-off events (e.g. collaborations, anniversaries); and 4) Utilising competitions – our inclination to want things more because other people also want them is often utilized in auctions or bids.

There are lots of good, interesting and memorable examples that Cialdini used to clarify and apply each of the principles in our daily lives. Every principle is so basic that you may not realize that you’re using it all this while or were being used to you. If you're in the marketing business, definitely you have to buy this book. If you're interested in how people think and make decisions – persuading and influencing others – read this book. If you're a leader, this is a book that you must own. Why? Because Robert says, "If leadership, at its most basic, consists of getting things done through others, then persuasion is one of the leader's essential tools."


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