Imagine if you had a superpower that allowed you to change people’s minds, help people to see your way, trust you more, follow your lead, and get people on your side during any discussion. I’m sure people would pay a lot of money to gain that power.
Although it’s not a true superpower, it is a skill, and you don’t have to pay to get it. You just have to learn about it and take action to develop it. It’s called persuasion.
Persuasion is the art of communicating in a way that helps others understand and support your ideas and actions. Learning the art of persuasion can become a powerful skill for leadership, influence, and motivation.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, a renowned professor at Arizona State University, has been the most recognized authority on the art persuasion. His six principles of persuasion have been successfully applied to just about every domain of life. The flexibility and applicability of this model make it very adaptable to just about any situation where you want to increase your level of influence.
Some of the principles seem elementary, or even obvious at first. However, as you think more deeply about each principle, you will begin to discover many new and creative uses. Each principle is meant to be general in nature, empowering you to determine the best and most ethical way to apply it to your particular situation and the people you are trying to persuade.
In order to master the skill of persuasion, you must first understand the 6 science-based principles, and then work each day to apply them. The six principles include Reciprocity, Commitment/Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. Here’s a brief overview of each and a few ways that you can apply the principles.
RECIPROCITY. People are driven to give after being given to or help after being helped. Give before you ask.
- Give a gift
- Compliment someone (sincerely)
- Give help and support
COMMITMENT & CONSISTENCY. People are compelled to be consistent with their words and actions. Help people establish alignment between viewpoint and behavior.
- Ask people for their input and ideas
- Get people to say yes and affirm ideas in line with the idea you want to pitch.
- Ask for commitment before asking for action
SOCIAL PROOF. People look to other people to know what works and who should be trusted. If you want someone to do something, show them that others are doing it with success and enjoyment.
- Provide testimonials
- Tell stories of success
- Have someone endorse or recommend you
LIKING. People are more likely to be influenced or say “yes” to people they know, like, and trust. Build genuine relationships with people.
- Become a genuine friend
- Speak with energy and enthusiasm
- Find and highlight similarities between you and the other person
AUTHORITY. Symbols of authority help create compliance and support on the part of others. Display authority appropriately in order to communicate credibility rather than control.
- Show confidence, but not arrogance
- Speak clearly and concisely
- Establish expertise (case studies, biography, experience, education, certifications)
SCARCITY. People find things that are rare or less available to be more valuable. Move people to action by setting limited amounts and availability.
- Set a time limit
- Highlight rarity
- Create restrictions that establish exclusivity
Persuasion is a skill that takes creativity and adaptability to apply the principles effectively. We also must be careful that they aren’t applied unethically. As you become more aware of these principles and put them into practice, you’ll grow your super skill (or power) of persuasion.
I’ve provided a one-page quick-guide that outlines the 6 principles and provides 50 Power Persuasion Tactics you can implement in your work and life. Click here to access it.
I also highly recommend reading Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion“