[Friday Book Review] Influence by Robert B. Cialdini


Influencing others is something most of us dream of, and few of us succeed. And, while running a startup, it is one of the most important skills. From building your team to selling your idea, we need it everywhere. Along the same lines we review the classic book on influence written by Dr. Robert B Cialdini who holds dual appointments at Arizona State University.The book makes for a great read and as you turn every page you realize how over time these weapons of influence would have been used over you by some people or you also tend to use them at times. The best part is that reading about these makes you aware of the situation where we are being manipulated subtly.

In the book Dr. Cialdini talks about six weapons of influence namely -

Reciprocation- Why we are obliged to do something in return for favors done to us, why some brands distribute free samples of their products, and how folks at Hare Krishna used this principle in their favor.

Commitment and consistency - It is often beneficial to get things in writing from people; the greater the effort that goes into making the commitment, the greater is its ability to influence the attitudes of person who made the commitment. Regarding consistency, Dr. Cialdini demonstrates how it is easier to get people to buy accessories after they buy a suit as compared to before buying a suit.

Social proof - Why is it that we are obligated to do things when somebody tells us that even others are doing it. Though no one like canned laughs, we tend to laugh when watching gags, and when we hear the group laughter on TV. Here, he discusses how we can be influenced by people when they show us social proof.

Liking - We most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like. This tool was used in Tupperware parties to promote the brand and their sales. Despite the entertaining and persuasive demonstration by the Tupperware salesman, the true request to purchase the product does not come from him, but it comes from a friend whom every woman knows, the hostess of the party.

Authority - The most common and evident tool in the bag of every influencer, authority, requires no introduction. It is quite simple to observe that we tend to obey people in power and thus agree to their demands instead of acting on the same request when it comes from someone who is not in a position of power.

Scarcity - Mostly demonstrated by shopkeepers in form of various sales, and offer ends today boards. The last weapon of influence works on our fear of losing out from the competition, thus making us react in haste.

The book contains many case studies and scenarios, and is an absolute page turner. Reading and acting on the principles provided in this book will definitely help you gain more insights into the psychology of people.


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