6 Principles To Influence People You Must Know


As I am venturing out into the business world I have been on the lookout for a great book to help me sell better. It took me little time to discover Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B., Cialdini. This is one of the business must-reads out there. A classic explaining 6 key principles by Dr Cialdini discovered after in-depth research of a variety of industries out there.

Cialdini starts his book by categorizing all business people into 3 types:

  1. Bunglers of Influence
  2. Smugglers of Influence
  3. Sleuths of Influence

Bunglers are the worst of the kind. When faced with the opportunity to influence others they bungle away and miss out on the opportunities. This type of people is one of the worst. They are not helping themselves, their clients or their company.

Smugglers are effective but dishonest. They would smuggle their influence and would fake it. They are effective but at the expense of their integrity. They don’t enjoy their work. They are the first ones to finish early or to skip a day at work.

Sleuths are the kind we all should aim to be. Like real detectives, they identify the time and use influence to encourage other people’s decisions. They are genuine and truly want to help others by using principles correctly which results in a mutual benefit.

Principles in short: 

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consensus
  5. Consistency
  6. Likeliness

1.  Reciprocity

The need to return the favour. Think about the time when you were given something by anyone. How did you feel? I know I have felt like I had to give something in return.

It’s human nature to return the favour. It’s a law which most of us abide by.

Consider an example of gipsy women in large tourist populated areas. They are giving out roses if you take one – you must pay. Sometimes they insist, sometimes they don’t but we feel the need to pay them.

Don’t be like gipsies, be a sleuth of reciprocity. Help people first, provide value. When thanked, say you would do the same and they will return the favour when the time comes.

2. Scarcity

Things become more attractive when they are less available. When I know there is an abundance of anything I care less about it. When those items become scarce I start to worry and feel the pressure to ensure I am not left out. Cialdini uses an example of an experiment done at the coffee shop with cookies.

Customers were presented with the full jar, half-empty jar and 2 cookies in the jar left. Then, they were offered a free cookie to take. Afterwards, they had to rate how much they cared about getting the cookie.

Guests wanted those cookies the most when they knew they could only take 1 or 2 before it ran out.

3. Authority

Showing you are an expert on the certain subject shows authority and creates credibility. It is important to establish your achievements and knowledge by providing necessary information early on into the discussion.

I often presume people already know who I am and what I am capable of. Usually, that’s not the case at all. Ensuring I explain my capabilities is the key to a successful transaction. Bragging is a bad habit for everyone, but you must show if you are an expert in your field and do that well.

4. Consensus

Social proof rule. Or simply put, people, rely on other people to decide whether you are legit or not. Do not lie about this because it is easy to discover and it compromises your integrity.

However, when you have other people to genuinely vouch for you it is important to communicate it to the rest of the interested peers. A testimonial or a happy customer letter is a great way to get someone to buy your service or product.

5. Consistency

Sustainability of actions over the period of time. Think about the initial business consultation. Your prospect is excited and over the moon with the service or product which I offer. That excitement won’t last forever. Get them to commit to an action or a certain step to take right away.

If I will allow them to leave without taking any action, I will end up losing their interest over time and it is likely they will default back to their previous way. If this next step is truly good for the person at the other end of the transaction, then it is in your and his best interest to go forward. Don’t waste this opportunity, get him or her to commit to the action.

6. Likeliness

By getting to like someone I am more likely to buy into their service. If I can relate to that person whether it is an opinion, personality trait, background or a lifestyle – I am more likely to buy into what they are selling.

How to be liked right off the bat?

Praise others. But ensure your praise is genuine, do not compliment people if you are not legit. This will result in dishonesty which breaks your integrity.

Cooperate with people. Find a common goal, that is good for both of you. Compliment honestly and relate to a similar experience.


These 6 principles are incredible and work every time if used correctly. All of the examples are backed up with facts and scientific research by Dr Cialdini and Robert B. in their book.

This is my short summary of the most important information. The book has many examples to really help you live these principles. To apply them in real life. It’s a short read or listen. I listened to an audiobook and it barely took 2 hours 55 minutes. Time well spent!

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