What comes to mind when you think of persuasion? Some might think of a sales call they wanted to get out of, while others might think of a celebrity who uses their charm and personality to convince their audience to buy a product, service or to convince them of an idea.
Persuasion is so powerful that it can influence society as a whole. Whether it be politics, media, or advertising, these are all tools of influencing the masses toward an idea or a product. You might think that you are immune to persuasion in most situations, but the power of persuasion goes deeper than this. People can use persuasion to make positive and significant changes in society, like persuading people to stop littering or driving safely, for example.
It doesn’t matter what you do professionally; learning the principles of persuasion could take you places you feel are beyond your reach. When you master this skill of influencing the beliefs or perspective of one person or a whole group towards one idea, that’s when you know that you are ready to go places.
I am super pumped up for today’s episode because we have a very special guest with us. His name is Robert Cialdini, and he is a master influencer and an icon in the business world. Robert is a behavioral scientist who has helped countless people build their communication skills by using the power of persuasion to move ahead in life.
As you listen to this episode, you will learn just how important it is to develop the ability of persuasion. Each of us has experienced the power of persuasion in one form or another, but once you understand the dynamics behind it, you will find it a valuable tool in life.
This episode is for anyone who is looking to lead a thriving and meaningful life. Whether you want to become a leader or you seek to strengthen your relationships, we have the legendary Robert Cialdini in the house today to demonstrate just how you can use the power of persuasion to turn your life around. Let’s welcome Robert to this episode of The School of Greatness.
Robert B. Cialdini is known as the “Godfather of Influence.” He is an author and an award-winning behavioral scientist known as the foundational expert in the science of influence. He has mastered the art of applying influence ethically in the workplace. Robert’s principles of persuasion have become the cornerstone for many organizations in increasing their effectiveness in sales, leadership, marketing management, and communication.
He is a three-time New York Times best-selling author for his book INFLUENCE: The Psychology of Persuasion. This book had a massive impact on me and has been critical in my self-development journey over the last decade. Robert Cialdini is known as the “Godfather of Influence” because he is the creator of the science of persuasion.
“Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only five percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.” – Robert Cialdini
Robert is also the President and CEO of Influence at Work which is focused on improving organizational and personal performance through live and virtual keynotes, streaming, and online corporate training. He is Regent’s Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, and he received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. He was also a visiting professor of marketing, business, and psychology at Stanford University, as well as at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
I am extremely fortunate for the opportunity to have Robert on this episode of The School of Greatness and am even more excited to share our conversation with you. Today, we will be talking about the principles of persuasion and how they can build influence in your life and business. I hope that by the end of this post, you are inspired to use these seven principles in your own life.
Robert knew that being stuck inside his campus laboratory could only take him so far during his years of research. So he went out into the real world to understand the factors that really moved people powerfully and consistently. He learned how to sell cars and insurance and attended various training programs. In the end, what he found were these six universal principles of influence that were effective. Let’s explore each of them.
“The rule of reciprocation says that people feel the drive to give back to those who have previously given to them. There are many ways to move people in our direction; one is that if people feel that they owe us, they say yes to us. So what it means is that we have to go first and give people benefits, or information, or concessions, and that flows back to us because of a rule that exists in every human culture. In this rule, you must not take without giving in return.” – Robert Cialdini
Robert flipped the script of a usual business arrangement where a business first asks people to buy a product or service before doing something for them. This rule of reciprocation in every culture enables them to thrive because people continue to give back and forth.
“You have to have within yourself a commitment to your vision… One thing we can do is to find an existing value or an existing preference of the people we want to influence. Then we show them what we offer is consistent with that value, vision, and commitment. That’s when they will want to move in our direction because of a drive to be congruent with their existing preferences and values and previous choices.” – Robert Cialdini
Robert elaborated with an example of how a restaurant owner in Chicago reduced the ‘no shows’ by 67%. Some people made reservations at the restaurant but would fail to show up. To turn this around, all he did was ask his receptionist to slightly tweak the way she greeted guests when they called to make a reservation. So instead of saying, “Thank you for making a reservation. Please call if you want to change or cancel your reservation,” he asked her to say, “Will you call if you have to change or cancel your reservation?” When the guest replied with a “yes,” that person committed, and people usually try to keep their commitments.
Robert also gave an example of a work scenario involving a manager and their team. The manager has the objective to ensure that the team is making progress towards their goal. As the team reaches halfway to the goal, what does the manager do? Observation tells us that they should congratulate the team for the progress they have made thus far. But Robert considers that to be a mistake because you may give a sense of satisfaction to the workers, which might make them too relaxed. If you instead congratulate them on their commitment to the goal, you make your team push for the timely completion of the plan. Research shows that it acts as a motivation tool.
“The principle of social proof says that when I am uncertain about what to do, I use the responses of other people to steer me in that direction. This reduces my uncertainty. … There was a little study in a pub in London, UK, where one day the proprietor put up a sign on a bar saying that their most popular beer was Porter, [and soon after that] the Porter sales doubled. … I do the same thing when I go to a restaurant I am not a regular at, I ask [the staff] for the best dishes on their menu, and I usually go with the recommendation.” – Roger Cialdini
The principle of social proof is a strong influencer; it tends to make us naturally inclined towards things that people around us are inclined to. It feeds our feeling of uncertainty with the promise of security which is backed by the evidence of doing what others are doing. It’s like when you see a large line outside a nightclub, where they make you wait outside—we become persuaded to wait in line just because everyone else wants to go in.
“There are two very small things we can do which would make people like us more. One is to point out the similarities between them and us, … because people like those who are like them. … [The second thing is] praising and complimenting. I make sure that any time I hear myself praise somebody in my head, I also hear myself say it in my ears because I say it out loud. I can’t tell you the effect it has had on social interaction and goodwill in those sessions [where I praise and compliment my students or audience]. … Not only do we like the people who are like us, we like the people who give us compliments. And as a result, we want to do business with them, interact with them, and say yes to them.” – Robert Cialdini
I also remember when I started on my entrepreneurial journey, and I was all over LinkedIn trying to find influential people and build relationships with them. What I understood was that people love telling the story of their success and how they overcame challenges. So I rephrased my outreach to the people I hardly knew, and I got so many different connections because I complimented them for their journey and didn’t ask for advice. I was just inspired by their story, which they loved to share. By listening, they gave me all the advice in the world. This also helped me in building authority for myself.
“I am going to differentiate between two kinds of authorities, both of which make a difference and cause people to say yes to us. … [The first is] to be in a position of authority, to have a standing or stature, but these are not the people we are going to talk about. … [Then] there are people with authority who can influence, that’s about power, and those are the people I am talking about. Somebody who is knowledgeable, has experience, and can point to their credentials.” – Robert Cialdini
Robert emphasizes showcasing your credentials to people, but this doesn’t mean that you sit down and drown people with your story. Instead, you can introduce your credentials to people subtly, and provide them with additional knowledge. Another interesting feature of authority is that it can be multiplied. This can be achieved by getting legitimate experts to write testimonials for you. When the best start recommending you, people are more likely to find themselves secure with your beliefs.
“Things that are scarce with a dwindling availability [come with the threat of being lost forever]; and loss is a more powerful motivator in human psychology than gaining the same thing. … People don’t want to lose [what they have]. Scarcity is valued because loss is the ultimate form of scarcity, which means you can’t have it anymore. … To apply this principle [you have got to] have something that’s scarce which is what differentiates you from your rivals. While limited time is valuable, a limited quantity or package of certain things is more powerful.” – Robert Cialdini
Scarcity is all about understanding that there’s a limited quantity of something and that there are interested people who wouldn’t want to lose out. Anything that comes across as scarce or rare tends to get more appreciation, and if you implement this principle in your life as well then you might be just a step away from being able to influence your target audience. This brings us to the next and last principle of persuasion — unity.
“If as a communicator I can convince somebody that I share membership in a group where this person uses the term ‘we’ to characterize, then everything becomes easier inside the boundaries of the ‘we’ group. … No new information, no greater logic. Just bring to consciousness that we are a ‘we’ group. And inside ‘we’ groups, people support and compromise. It was simple to use the pronouns, ‘we,’ ‘our,’ and ‘us’…” – Robert Cialdini
To bring about the spirit of unity, Robert suggests firstly to just look for similarities of preferences and styles and tastes and bring it up. … But there’s another way Robert has been wildly successful in the marketing community, which is co-creation, where we seek the advice of people who are our customers, or even our prospective customers. We ask for their responses on what we can do to make our products or services better.. This way, we can co-create the next level of our products or services, which creates unity.
It’s incredible to think that you could have everything you want in your life if you learn to speak the right language to people. You could accomplish your goals, your dreams, have great partnerships, great friendships, and even great business opportunities—that is the power of influence!
I hope that you found this episode as powerful as I did. I want more people to study these principles because when you can study them, integrate them into your daily life, and make them a part of who you are, it’s going to feel like everything will start to flow. Life will feel abundant and you will become a magnet for what you want!
At the end of the episode, Robert shared his definition of greatness – “It is about fulfilling one’s potential. As you get better at things you do, you think less and less about that, and more about whether you did everything you are capable of, [and if you maximize your potential]. … That is greatness.”
To know more about Robert, you can check out his website, and you can also follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you loved this episode then please do me a favor and tag @teamrobertcialdini and me @lewishowes on Instagram, with a screenshot of your greatest takeaways from it. See you next time!