Influence by Robert Cialdini book summary

Influence By Robert Cialdini [Summary]

This is a comprehensive book summary of the book Influence By Robert Cialdini. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski.

Worksheet: Download the interactive sheet for taking notes

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

What factors cause someone to say “Yes” to another person? What methods do politicians use to convince others? Why do we obey others? The book is a look from the inside, behind the scenes of what the most experienced sellers do to persuade people to buy from them.

The Core Idea:

Every day we communicate with other people and part of our work, part of our survival on this planet is bound up with our ability to persuade others to believe us, agree with us, buy from us. Influence by Robert Cialdini, explain in details how we can become better in our communication with other people and how we can persuade them to follow us and agree with us.

5 Key Lessons from Influence:

Lesson #1: The Power Of Contrast

Our everyday life is so busy. That’s why we form certain beliefs and establish automatic behavior in order for our brain to save energy. For example:

  • We see expensive jewelry and we immediately think that’s better than the cheap knockoffs standing nearby.
  • We see someone wearing a suit and we think that he is smart or important, or probably both.

Sometimes even changing the color, without the price, on a price tag to red can convince more people to buy.

We can use these rooted beliefs in people’s minds s to convince them to do what we want.

A simple example to explain the power of contrast is the following: a friend of yours complains about his current job or about his girlfriend. Even though he might be right about some of the things, you can easily convince him that his current situation is better by making him remember his last job or his last girlfriend. Remind him of the worst moments of his previous job and compare them with the best conditions of his current one. This will surely confuse him.

This technique can also be used when selling products to potential clients.

First show clients the expensive products. If the client is not happy with the price you can then show them the package you originally wanted to show them – the more affordable plan.

Following the logic, we can convince people to buy a shiny product, a car, a house at a higher price by first showing them a couple of not so perfect products. Then, we can follow up with a shiny new product at a higher price but possessing all qualities. This is a really simple technique used by salespeople around the world. Showing something not so beautiful first and then revealing the better, but the more expensive product, is the best way to justify the higher price.

Actually, that’s why people who show houses first present a couple of not so good options.

Lesson #2: Give First To Get What You Want Later

The law of reciprocity is a really widespread persuasion technique. The definition kind of looks like this: Reciprocity is a social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding the first positive action. Basically, in response to friendly actions, people are often much nicer and much more cooperative. Some are even ready to betray their own self-interest so that can return the favor.

For example, if we go out to have something to eat and I cover the bill, you’ll almost always offer to pay for the meal next time.

Giving something first to others will make them feel enslaved till they don’t return the favor. We actually see the law of reciprocity everywhere: Sites asking for your email and giving you a free eBook; Shampoo companies giving away free samples; Election campaigns where free food is served.

Think about the law of reciprocity the next time you want to convince someone to do something for you. Instead of telling them how good this new product is, you can first do something for them for free.

Lesson #3: The Power Of Recommendations

This is huge nowadays. We live in a world flooded with all kinds of products. It’s getting harder and harder to actually choose something. We can spend hours searching for the best washing machine and still regret our final decision. Yet, things will be quite different if a good friend recommends us a specific brand or a model. Since a friend is telling us to “get this model,” we will be more convinced to actually get it.

A lot of online companies use this powerful persuasion technique to increase their market share. For instance, companies that offer services (not physical products), rely on this strategy to make more sales. What do they do? They convince their current customers to recommend the product and offer something in return. Actually, there is a word for that: affiliate marketing.

Here how this works:

You recommend a product to a friend > He purchases the product using your link > You get paid for introducing the product to someone.

It’s basically a win-win situation for everyone:

  • Current customer: He gets a commission for recommending something he uses himself;
  • New customer: He feels relieved because he doesn’t have to read thousands of opinions online;
  • Company: They get a new client. Also, the current customer will most probably recommend the service to even more people.

The takeaway here is simple: No matter what you do, part of your growth strategy should be to persuade the current users to talk about your services with others. How can you do this? You can offer something in return.

Lesson #4: The Power Of Authority

Part of our upbringing involves obeying others. We strive to do what our parents tell us to do. We don’t do some things in public because there are certain social norms we don’t want to break. Disobedience will put you in jail or in Hell if you’re a believer. Also, we are trained to obey someone only because he is wearing a uniform.

If you bump into a police officer and he tells you to lay on the floor or explains that he needs your car, like in the movies, you will be quite willing to obey his demand. Why not, he is all dressed up – uniform, radio station, a gun and all the other perks. But what if it turns out that this man is not a real policeman? What if he only pretends to be a policeman so he can steal your car?

You can too benefit from this.

Acting like you are the boss can definitely help in some situation – the fake it till you make it principle. People will respect you. Listen to you. They’ll be more willing to do what you tell them to do.

Here are a few ways to “gather” authority:

  • Born: Some people are born with this quality, others, can learn it. Some call them born leaders others referred to them as Alpha males;
  • Position: The position in the company you work for can give you authority;
  • Possessions: Some people might respect you if you have a nice new car or a big house;
  • Clothes: The way you look can definitely change the way how others perceive you. Get a blazer and a shirt and soon people will open the door in front of you.

Personally, I think that the best way to make others look up to you as someone with authority is to respect them and help them. Along with that, to present yourself as an expert in a certain field. To be known for being good at something. Something of your choice.

Lesson #5: Binding Leads To Consistency

If you are hesitant about whether team A or team B is going to win the game, you’re not so worried about this when you put your money on the table. People who bet money on sports are more convinced that their team is going to win the moment they place their bet.

For instance, if you bet on team B you’ll convince your mind that this is the right team. That this team is going to win. In reality, nothing has changed. Team A and team B have the same chances for winning the game as before you placed the bet.

So what happened? We believe in our idea so strongly that we convince ourselves.

This type of self-persuasion happens all the time. We hold on to an idea that is secretly pleasing to us but deep inside we might have some doubts as to its truth, and so we go an extra mile to convince ourselves.

We hope that team B is going to win but deep inside ourselves we know that it might be the opposing team. So, we start explaining to our friends that team B is on a winning streak. That they have a new strategy. That team A is tired from the previous game and so on.

We do it with our partners. Even if we know that our spouse is never going to stop gambling, we explain to our girlfriends that he is changing. That he is helping you with the housework. That he is earning more bucks now, thus he deserves to spend a few dollars on a game.

We can’t share the truth with our friends. This will mean that we, ourselves, took the wrong decision by marrying a drunk bastard who waste our savings online.

This type of conviction bias can be used in your favor. You only need to build a strong relationship with other people. You can start with something small and build on it.

Salespeople use this tactic all the time. They try to sell you something small. Something that won’t make them a huge profit but it will build a bridge between the company and your wallet.

These type of small purchases become larger over time, and why not? You already trusted this brand before, right? If you stop now this will mean that you were wrong the first time. And people don’t like to admit to others, nor to themselves, that they were wrong.

Actionable Notes:

  • Give a lot: If you’re working on an online project, or if you’re a salesman, and you want to increase your sales. You can do so by helping people. Give them free stuff. Write useful articles. How-to guides. Later, ask for something in return. Ask for the sale. Sometimes even friendly advice will convince a person to buy your product. By giving first, people will be later more willing to give you their money.
  • Don’t rely on collective responsibility: If you want to get help from people. Or if you’re managing a team and you want something done. Don’t really on all of them. Don’t say “please fix this, all of you.” Collective work and collective responsibility don’t work together. If you want something done, point out the specific person to do it. Otherwise, nothing will be completed;
  • The media influence: What we read, watch and consume as information influences us. If you’re depressed, or you’re heartbroken, the worse thing you can do is to read similar to your stories. The best, most useful, and extremely easy to implement thing you can do is to expose yourself to positive news, people, emotions. It might sound dull and simple but this is really powerful.
  • The power of recommendations: Regardless of whether you’re selling goods, or you’re selling yourself, you need to convince more people to recommend your services. How? By making it easy for someone to like you and making it easy for someone to share what you offer. For example, if you have a site adding sharing buttons is a must.
  • Fake it till you make it: Large portion of the book can be narrowed down to the principle “fake it till you make it.” By imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, you can convince yourself, and others, that those qualities are real.

Commentary And My Personal Takeaway

The book is definitely worth your time. The author shares countless examples and techniques that will make others listen to you. As the world is becoming more digital, and less direct, mastering few social kung-fu kicks will definitely set you apart from the crowd.

I personally enjoyed the part where the author explains that juries will give lighter sentences to more attractive convicts. Not that you should try to rob the bank if you’re gorgeous. I’m sharing this because it’s a really simple hack to influence others. Even if you don’t consider yourself as someone who is “pretty”, you can easily disguise your “flaws” by wearing nice things.

Notable Quotes:

A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.” Robert Cialdini

Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.” Robert Cialdini

Persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort.” Robert Cialdini

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