Timeless principles for persuasion

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By Manish Shah
According to research done by Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, there are six principles that govern how we can influence others. They are: Reciprocation, Scarcity, Authority, Commit-ment, Liking and Social Proof. If we learn these principles and apply them ethically, we can become more influential in our personal and professional lives.

Reciprocation: People give back in kind what they have received from you. A manager can benefit from this principle immensely. If he is interested in fostering an environment where the information is shared freely, he can set the tone by providing quality and timely information to his team. His team will reciprocate by promptly relaying important information to him. This will enable the manager to plan and complete his projects on time.

Scarcity: People have strong interest in opportunities that are scarce in nature. Busi-nesses apply these strategies with a lot of success. A sale at a department store is often advertised as “limited time only.” Restaurant managers limit the availability of seats thereby making their restaurant more desirable. We can also benefit from information scarcity. Legendary investor Warren Buffett, who never gives stock tips in public, sold his old wallet at a charity auction for $210,000 by including a rare stock tip in the wallet.

Authority: People will be most influenced by others who they perceive as knowledgeable and credible. At a clinic, we accept a doctor’s advice without asking any probing questions because a doctor is an authority figure.

Commitment: People will comply with a request if it is consistent with what they have publicly committed. For example, if car salesman brings up a hidden cost after the sale is finalized; most buyers are reluctant to walk away because they have made a commitment to buy the car.

Liking: People are likely to agree to a request from a person they know and admire. Tupperware parties are a great example of this principle at work. In these parties, the seller is a good friend —someone the attendees know and like. Advertising companies make the most of this tendency by using celebrities to endorse their product.

Social proof: People are likely to say yes to a request if you can demonstrate that other people just like them have been saying yes to it. A person soliciting donation for a cause uses social proof to his advantage by showing you a list of neighbors who have already donated.

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