Lessons from Dr. R. Cialdini: 'Influence - The Ultimate Power Tool'

Dr. Robert Cialdini has spent his whole career researching the science of influence, earning him an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation. He is a writer, who has been fortunate enough to obtain a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list with his book, ‘Influence: Science and Practice'. Dr. Cialdini is also the president of ‘Influence at Work’ which is focused on ethical influence training, keynote programs, and the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer Program. 

Influence – defined by Webster’s is

: the power to change or affect someone or something

: the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen

: a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way

So, why is influence important?

What can you do in everyday interactions and conversations (personal and professional) to help increase your influence?

What can you do to get a greater commitment to action from others, and build credibility?


Cialdini tackled these questions at the recent Art of Marketing conference in Toronto; introducing the Influence and Persuasion principles featured below and suggests that you use one or more simultaneously. Give them a try.


  1. Reciprocation

Reciprocity – give first – whom can you help? Who’s interest can you elevate? What advantage do you have to offer over others to differentiate? This is where it starts. Start by providing examples of what you can do to help others. People want to give to people who have given to them.


  1. Likability

How easy are you to do business with? People are more likely to say yes to people they like. Is there someone you want to do business with, but unsure if they will say yes? Find something in common with that person, and people are likely to like and share something with someone who is similar to them! Make their life easy.


  1. Commitment

People want to be consistent with their prior commitments. It’s getting people to live up to what they say they are going to do. Are you able to do this? Consistently?


  1. Scarcity

Human tendency is to want more of those things we have less of. There is a reason for this, which is loss aversion – we want to avoid losses over obtaining gains. Cialdini shares that it is not sufficient to share the advantages and benefits of your offering but to share what the consumer/customer will be missing out on. You should frame your products or services in terms of what will be forgone.


  1. Authority

This is the most effective principle. This gives you a way to get off the fence and off the sidelines and into the game! Authorities start to weigh in and voice their opinions on particular products.  Access to authority works! The authority communicator whom no one can beat, is the credible communicator, the one who has two elements in the eyes of his/her is knowledge & trustworthiness. We tend to follow lead of experts – this reduces uncertainty about what you should do.



You can borrow knowledge from others / true authorities. However, if you are the authority – you have the credentials, you are selling your services. You need to ensure they are aware of your expertise, before you try and influence them! If you are an expert, they need to know that. You need to be careful before coming across as the expert to someone you do not know. You need to find a third person to send that information – or send information ahead in a letter of introduction – you present your credentials adequately.



This is more complicated. Is there anything you can do to present instant trustworthiness? Our culture tends to dictate that we are used to getting things immediately. When we meet someone new, typically we have been trained to start off sharing our strengths, our most appealing traits, and at the end we are trained to share our weaknesses. To be more influential, try mentioning a weakness early in your case, you will most likely throw the person your telling off, but they then may lean in and listen closely to the next thing you say. After you have shared a moment your weakness then share your strength.


  1. Consensus

When people are uncertain they do not look inside themselves, they look outside. They look at the experts in this matter. They also look at their peers. What are your peers doing? This informs you on what you should be doing. Consumers commonly find reviews of products to help with decisions, and they believe in them fully.


What I’ve learned from Robert Cialdini is simple --- to give something of value first, make it easy to do business with you (and your company). Be consistent and deliver on what you say you are going to do. Demonstrate your expertise - that is the three to six things you (or your company) do uniquely well to create value for customers and don’t be afraid to be authentic and share weaknesses. People like to work with another who is similar to them.


Can you implement one or more of these principles on a daily basis?

My challenge to you is to give them a try – and watch your business grow! 



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Working with some of the world’s best-known companies and small - midsize family run businesses we provide tools and training to help people thrive professionally and personally. Helping people grow drives overall growth. In addition to managing, inspiring and coaching an outsourced sales team for a Fortune Top 35 client, we recently we helped a client communicate and relay his vision and mission to his franchisee ownership team resulting in a unified corporate sale of his company. We also helped a family run business create a customized sales process with coaching to significantly exceed revenue targets.

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