Six Principles of Persuasion

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

Influence is power. Maybe even a superpower. Imagine being able to harness influence as a skill. To be able to use it when the situation calls. The truth is, this is more possible than you may have thought, thanks to research done over the years.

Persuasion as a superpower is very much within reach. And how is that?

The six principles of persuasion is your answer

1. Reciprocity

One of the most basic principles of influence is to simply give that which you want to receive. In other words, doing right by others is a good way to get others to do the same for you. This idea of reciprocity is a powerful one.

There are a couple of ways to have this reciprocity work for you. Giving others small gifts, treating others with respect, and doing favors for those in need, are all things that can win you points with other individuals.

Moreover, it is these small acts of kindness that will be remembered and come in handy when you’re in need of a favor yourself.

2. Consistency

The principle of consistency is based on the power of active, public, and voluntary commitments, which results in people actually sticking to their word. The first part is an active commitment. By active, we mean something that is written or spoken to other’s. Having people say they will do something is a start, but when they actively commit to it they’re much more likely to follow through.

3. Social Proof

People rely on social cues from others on how to think, feel, and act in many situations. And not just any people, but peers. People they believe are similar to them. This is a key point and what is called social proof.

Having that first-person take action makes all the difference and unlocks the power of social proof.

4. Liking

People like those who like them or who they perceive as friends. It’s a simple, yet powerful idea. The principle of liking can be used in a few different ways.

One method is finding common ground with the people you meet. If you can connect with them on their hobbies or interests, you’ll have a solid ground to build from. Being observant of people is a great way to pick up on any clues that may lead you to such common ground.

The other approach is genuine praise. Paying compliments and being charming can go along way to building a positive rapport with others. A word of warning though, don’t go overboard. The key here is genuine praise, don’t manufacture it to the point that you’re clearly trying to butter them up.

5. Authority

When you are perceived as an expert in an area, other’s will be more likely to defer to you. Why? Often because experts are able to offer a shortcut to good decisions that would otherwise take a long time to devise themselves. The idea then is to establish that credibility of authority and expertise.

Many often miss this opportunity because they assume others will identify their expertise automatically. You can’t leave it up to interpretation because it will often be overlooked.

6. Scarcity

People value what is scarce. It’s just basic supply and demand. As things become more scarce, them becoming more valuable to others. There are a few ways that you can use the principle of scarcity to persuade others. One is simply to make offers limited-time, limited-supply, or one-time, which immediately creates a sense of scarcity.

At the same time, how you present such opportunities matters too. If you focus more on loss language, or language that demonstrates what you will lose out on rather than gain, your message becomes more powerful.

Finally is the exclusivity approach. Providing access to information, services, or other items to a limited set of people creates a sense of exclusiveness. This often gets translated into being a favor to those people or that you value them more than others.

Mastering these six principles of influence will enable you to maximize your abilities of persuasion. But a word of warning. Don’t abuse these skills. They can easily be used to manipulate and control others.

“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” -Aristotle

Cialdini is clear to say in his own writing, these principles of influence should be used from a place of good, with your influence being authentic, genuine, and leading others to the best decisions, not only for themselves, but everyone else.

Use it the right way, and you’ll reap the rewards.

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