We all know how important it is to influence people and persuade them to say yes to us. whether it is a sales, advertising or job interviews, influence is everywhere. How to be persuasive is something we all unconsciously crave for. But we often don’t know how to be persuasive and there is no single formula that seems to work in all cases.

If we use the art of persuasion for ethical purpose, there is nothing wrong in being able to influence people to agree to what we want. Furthermore you will be surprised to know that marketers across the world apply these principles to be able to influence you to buy their product.

Before we move to the six principles of influencing others, let us first understand why do these principles work. Also don’t forget to read about complete selling skills guide if you are into sales.


We all know that we take action or behave based on the information that we have. There are however two kinds of information that we have. The first one is what we gain through experience since our birth and learn consciously or unconsciously through these experiences.

The second one is the information that we are born with. These are in our genetic makeup and has been passed on through generations for thousands of years.

For our primitive ancestors the single most important driving force was to survive. These primitive genes based on survival instincts also led us to certain behaviors that would ensure maximum probability for survival. For e.g if you have to maximize your chances of survival you must remain in group. If you want others to help you must reciprocate others. You must follow the authority of your leaders. You remain consistent and avoid unwarranted change that may bring new dangers and so on.

These survival forces are always acting within us whether we know or not. The six principles that will help you to influence people is based on the same psychological principles.

So let us now learn the art of persuasion, how to persuasive and make people agree to your proposition. The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini identifies six universal ways to influence others.



How often do we feel obliged to invite someone for a birthday party if they too have done the same in past? The answer is quite often. This is based on the idea of “matching” what others have done for you. If you do a favor for someone, that person is more likely to help you if asked. Most people don’t like to feel in debt to others, and will look to restore equilibrium. Booths in stores with sample food and giveaways at conventions are intended to make people more susceptible to buy after taking something.

Interestingly this principle does not mean you give equally as much you want to receive. Contrary to the common thinking people are prepared to give much more to reciprocate. Next time you want a good appraisal, look for opportunities to do some favor to your boss.


The trick is to make someone commit to something you want. Remember our primitive brain, we want to be consistent with what we promise. This commitment increased multiple times if you take it in writing. they are more likely to follow through with it. If you leave a meeting without agreeing to a course of action, less is likely to happen than if each person states their commitments out loud

. Consistency is also important for two reasons. First, people that are consistent are more trustworthy, leading others to lend their support more readily. Second, people have an innate pull to remain aligned with what they have said or agreed to previously.


In game shows, if the audience is polled they are often quite accurate based on the pooled knowledge they have. People also look to others for validation. Watch kids sometime to see this in action. Once the damn breaks and one kid tries something, the others are likely to think it is okay and start doing the same thing. Testimonials and the use of “experts” and doctors (think, “9 out of 10 doctors recommend…”) are all examples of using social proof to influence others.


There is perhaps nothing better for influence than being liked, which is related to being trusted. We also like people more who are similar to us and attractive people are typically found to be more likable. Likability is so important that it can often tip the scales in presidential elections. If someone likes you they will be more inclined to say yes to you.


This is one of the most dangerous types of influence. It can be the absolute most powerful, but it can also be the most corrupting if used to the extreme. Stanley Milgram showed the great lengths people will go to in order to obey authority. In some cases, participants in his experiment delivered what they thought was a crippling shock to another person, simply because they were told they had to do so by a person in the study that they thought was a real doctor. These titles, uniforms, and other visual displays of authority go a long way towards influencing people.


How many time do you see in an e-commerce website, only two left, hurry! Think of all the commercials you have seen where you must “act now” or “time is running out” for a certain product. These commercials use scarcity to make people believe that a product has limited supply and that they must buy right away. If you can create urgency around something people will be more likely to act upon it or buy.


I should not say that these are the tricks to influence somebody. However this is what it is, why we are discussing this is because these tricks must be used ethically. You now may correlate how often you have been conditioned to buy some product using these principles. However they are not doing it unethically or making false promised.

The final word is; using it ethically is the key, always use these principles to ethically make someone agree to your reasonable persuasion. It is to create a win-win for all not to dupe somebody to agree to your unreasonable demands.

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