The Power of Persuasion

Power_by_pierceyI stumbled upon one of my favorite articles this morning and just had to share.  Its funny how I must have read this article about half a dozen times and each time gleaned something new and exciting to put into practice.  I am sure many of you know this already, but do not ever pass up re-reading a really good article/paper/blogpost – your mindset, mood, perspective may be so vastly different that it may leave a greater impact on you the second or third time around.

The article is by Robert B. Cialdini titled “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion” and was required reading (way back) in my MBA program.  In the article, Cialdini outlines 6 evidence-based principles that  Leaders can learn and apply in their practice of leadership to help influence their colleagues and subordinates.  He even went as far as to call these principles “basic laws of winning friends and influencing people.”  Here is a quick summary of this list from his article that outlines some some “simple” things we can put into action using research based principles to improve the impact we have on others in our careers – even in our daily personal lives.  What I really want you to take away from this summary, and Cialdini’s article, is what I learned:  Persuasion can be very powerful…and with great power comes, you guessed it, great responsibility.  So these principles must be used wisely and with great care not to abuse them.

The six (POWERFUL) principles of persuasion:

  1. Liking:  like others and use similarity and praise to be more “liked”.  We all know that having something in common with someone often sparks a human connection.

  2. Reciprocity:  you get what you give.  Be the person you would like to see in everyone else.

  3. Social Proof: peer persuasion is extremely powerful.  Who doesn’t want to “fit in” with the “in crowd”.

  4. Consistency: commitments should be explicit, public and voluntary.

  5. Authority: establish your expertise and make it visible.

  6. Scarcity: less available = more valuable.  When one stands to lose, it has been proven to move people to act more than when one stands to gain.

The six principles outlined above seem simple.  Cialdini certainly outlines these principles succinctly and inspires the reader to put these thoughts into action as soon as one puts down the article.  Cialdini provides hard evidence and demonstrates how these principles were discovered in a very scientific manner.  Yet, I believe that putting the principles into practice is more an art than exact science.  Understanding these principles of persuasion is step one, developing the framework for where these principles might influence others is step two, and applying the principles at the right time, to the right audience in just the right amount (and combination where applicable) is the last and most crucial step of the persuasive process.

Thank you again for reading and sharing.  Please comment below to let me know which of these principles you believe is hardest to employ.  Have a great day and do great things.

Michael Scicchitano


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