Follow These Six Principals of Influence…

Let me ask you a few questions?

Do people buy into your ideas?

Can you win people to your way of thinking?

Can you increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done?

Can you convince people around you that your ideas or your solutions to problems are worth their time and their money?

Are you able to get the support and resources you need to be successful?

Can you successfully communicate to the world that what you have to offer, can help them somehow?

How do you influence someone?

In business, this is critical. How do you make someone say “Yes” to your request?

Persuasion is the ability to influence.

It was Robert Cialdini’s book Influence The Psychology of Persuasion that opened my eyes to the art of persuasion. In business, your ability to persuade others is of crucial importance. Of all the critical skills in business whether it be negotiation, sales, finance or marketing, it is persuasion in my opinion that is the most essential skill in business success.

We all know or have known that person that can sell ice to Eskimos. What do they have that gives them that ability to do that?


We must learn how to influence others to see our point of view.

Without persuasion, one cannot make his or her vision take place.

Influence comes from the Latin word influere, meaning to flow into. Influence is the ability to shape, or to transform the opinions and behaviors or actions of other people without having authority over them.

Persuasion is something meant to get you to do or believe something. Another meaning for persuasion is the act of influencing someone to do something or to change their mind.

Now understand that Persuasion is not Manipulation. Manipulation is coercion often through force to get someone to do something that is not in their own interest. Persuasion on the other hand is the art of getting people to do the things that are in their own best interest that also benefits you.

We all have to use persuasion through out our lives and the truth is if you can’t explain your concept or point of view to an 8th grader with sufficient clarity for them to understand, well it may be too complicated. The art of persuasion lies in simplifying something down to its core essence and communicating to others what they really care about.

Back to Robert Cialdini and his scientific findings on persuasion. He found that influence is based on six key principles:

Principal 1: Reciprocity (Me First)

The reciprocity principle is one of the basic laws of social psychology: It says that in many social situations we pay back to others what we receive from others. In other words, if John does you a favor, you’re likely to do him a favor in the near future..

It means: To give someone something, information, money, time. You can give someone a gift of any kind.

Reciprocity creates a feeling of debt, an obligation to give back. When you give someone something of value in form of a gift, the other person has this compelled feeling to give back impartially what you have given to him/her to satisfy the obligation.

If we are the first to give valuable information, first to give great service, first to give a helpful attitude, not only will others see us as responsive to their needs, but also will create feelings of obligation to give back to us. If these people are our customers, then we can anticipate more return business from them.


The Hare Krishna Society who is famous for offering a ‘gift’ of a flower when soliciting for donations (which they refuse to take back). As the receiver cannot unburden themselves from the subconscious debt, the social pressure to donate leads to a higher donation rate than merely soliciting alone.

Supermarkets all around the world found their sales for a particular item rose, at times tripled when inviting customers to their own free samples.

Principal 2: Scarcity (The Rule of the Rare)

In economics, scarcity is the result of people having unlimited wants and needs or always wanting something new. We all have to some degree “Limited Resources.” These Limited Resources means that there are never enough resources, or materials to satisfy, or fulfill the wants and needs that every person has.

Things that are recognized as scarce or rare are usually more valuable because they suddenly become unobtainable. Possessing scarce items is perceived to having an edge or someone with having more information, intelligence, or wealth.

As objects of some value become less available to others, they increase in value.

You may notice scarcity being used on you all the time. Have you ever noticed that in those travel sites, next to the booking there is a reminder that there are only 5 vacation packages left. “You better hurry up and take it before there gone.”


High pressure environments, like auctions can often lead to an item being sold for an elevated price way beyond what it’s worth as the buyers fear losing out to another person.

Principal 3: Authority (Showing Knowing)

The authority principle refers to a person’s tendency to comply with people in positions of authority, such as government leaders, law-enforcement officers, doctors, lawyers, professors, and other perceived experts in different fields.

Authorities gain their power through conditioning, as children we recognized our parents were the true authorities. They had the power to tell us what to do, sometimes even how to do it. As adults, we remain susceptible to individuals in position of power.

Genuine authorities provide us with information that is accurate and helpful.


Hospitals have a 12% daily error rate. This is because, nurses and junior doctors will rarely challenge the decision made by an authoritative figure, (the doctor) despite receiving potentially lethal, or bizarre requests.

Principal 4: Consensus (Social Proof)

Other people’s behaviors are important cues to how we are to behave. When we are in situations that are unfamiliar to us, or if we are uncertain about the right thing to do, we look to what others are doing for our correct action.

“Ninety-five percent of people are imitators and only 5% of initiators people are swayed more by the action of others than any proof we can offer.”

—Robert Cialdini

When deciding what to do in an unfamiliar situation, it’s helpful to look to others in that situation for an answer.

** Social Proof is in full effect in our current Covid 19 era. At first the wearing of masks was initially not looked upon as something we wanted to do. We looked around in the beginning and saw other people not wearing masks. However, when the demands of Covid 19 changed and we noticed a lot of others wearing masks, this influence principal played a major role. Soon as we looked around, we found everyone wearing masks and felt the obligation for us to wear one also.


Donations and tip jars are sometimes ‘salted’ meaning a dollar or two is already placed in the jar to stimulate others to tip. In church, when passing around the collection basket for donations, the priest would place a few dollars in the collection basket. This effect will trigger others to give.

Principal 5: Consistency and Commitment (Starting Points)

People will do as much as possible to appear consistent about their words and actions. Even to the extent of doing things that are basically irrational.

We all like individuals who act in a predictable manner. Their consistent. We feel comfortable around them. When one’s behavior is unpredictable it makes us feel uneasy. The behavior of a criminal is unpredictable, we don’t feel at ease around criminals, we don’t know what their capable of. But when someone’s behavior is consistent and predictable we tend to call them reliable and trustworthy.

We strive for consistency, we want their commitment.


Households were called and asked to predict what they would do if they were asked to volunteer for three hours to collect for charity. Three days later, they were recalled and asked to collect for charity. This led to an increase in the numbers of volunteers by 700%.

Principal 6: Liking (Making Friends)

We tend to be influenced by people we like. We tend to put our trust in people that have a likable personality. In order to harness the principal of likability we need to understand that we cannot achieve our potential without the people around us. If they mistrust us or compete against us, they will seize every opportunity to avoid us. Even hamper our performance and career progress.

If we are to advance our careers, sell to our customers, or just make lasting friendships, it’s important to have people like us.


Joe Girard won the ‘Number One Salesman’ award countless times selling an average five cars or trucks a day. His formula? He provided a fair price of course, and he’s someone the customer likes to buy from. Joe made people like him. One of his key tactics however was to employ the use of compliments. Every month he sent every one of his 13,000 former customers a holiday greeting card containing a personal message. The holiday greeting changed from month to month (Happy New Year, Happy Easter etc.), but the message printed on the face of the card never varied. It only read ‘I like you’.