The Science of Persuasion

Do you work in sales or in a capacity that is improved when you can influence people?   Hint:  You all are.    Then you HAVE TO, HAVE TO, HAVE TO read Robert Cialdini’s landmark book called “Influence: the Science of Persuasion.”      Not sure I have had any book recommended more times by more people.

Or, at the very least, read the series of blog posts I’m going to do about it.   In the book, he isolates the 6 most persuasive things to humans.   They are:

1) Reciprocation

2) Social proof

3) Commitment & Consistency

4) Liking: People prefer to say ” yes” to those they know

5) Authority

6) Scarcity

Each principle is examined as to its ability to produce a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people, that is, a willingness to say yes without thinking first. The evidence suggests that the ever-accelerating pace and informational crush of modern life will make this particular form of unthinking compliance more and more prevalent in the future.

A fundamental characteristic of these patterns is that the behaviors that compose them occur in virtually the same fashion and in the same order every time.  It is almost as if the patterns were recorded on tapes within the animals.  When the situation calls for courtship, the courtship tape gets played; when the situation calls for mothering, the maternal-behavior tape gets played. Click and the appropriate type is ctivated; whirr and out rolls the standard sequence of behaviors.

You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment, easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed on this planet. To deal with it, we need shortcuts. We can’t be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day. We haven’t the time, energy, or capacity for it. Instead, we must very often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond mindlessly when one or another of these trigger features is present.  Without them we would stand frozen—cataloging, appraising, and calibrating—as the time for action sped by and away.

More to come on each of these.