Best Books on Influence and Persuasion

best influence and persuasion books

If you are looking for the best books on influence and persuasion, you have come to the right place.

My credentials: I am a sociologist, a psychologist buff, member of the American Psychology Association, and I founded, lead, and focus on the “power dynamics” domain of influence and social skills.
I have read a lot of books on sales, influence, and persuasion, and this is my current list of best persuasion books.

11. Straight Line Persuasion

one of the best books on persuasion

By J Belfort

Notice: I am referring to the course here, called “Straight Line Persuasion” and not the book.

To be honest the course per is actually just OK.
But there are a couple of key lessons on voice tonality that you don’t see in almost any other persuasion training, and those are really 24k golden nuggets. 

Jordan Belfort’s voice, overall, is not great, but he gets tonality really well.

10. Pitch Anything

pitch anything book cover

By O Klaff
Summary | Amazon

This is the equivalent of The Power Moves applied to VC pitching and persuasion. 
Oren Klaff indeed focuses on persuading through understanding power dynamics and coming across as the most powerful man in the room.

At times I feel this attitude might be counterproductive unless you really know what you’re doing and you can counterbalance it with warmth, but power dynamics are certainly something you should learn to improve your persuasion skills.

9. The Art of Closing The Sale

the art of closing the sale book cover

By B Tracy
Summary | Amazon

I wanted to put a good book on sale on this list as well.
And The Art of Closing The Sale provides a good overview both in terms of mindsets and in terms of sales techniques.

8. Propaganda

propaganda book cover

By E Bernays
Summary | Amazon

And now by friends, please roll out the red carpet and blow the trombones for… The Godfather of the influencing and persuasion books!

And, between us, the Godfather of media manipulation for the masses as well :).

Propaganda is the equivalent of The Prince for power moves and The Art of War for strategy.

And the most surprising thing?
Some passages are so crazy actually in the Donal Trump era that you will go check the publication date just to be sure you picked the right book!

7. Creating Lasting Change

creating lasting change

By T Robbins

When it comes to the best persuasion books we might want to lend an ear to a guy who’s come from nothing and with no education and built an empire based on coaching and information.

That guy is Tony Robbins and he knows a thing or two about making people follow him.

6. Getting Past No

getting past no book cover

By W Ury
Summary | Amazon

Getting Past No is a truly underappreciated gem. Ury has written such “Getting to Yes” and “The Power of a Positive No“, which are equally powerful.

But what’s so special about Getting Past No is that it focuses on difficult negotiation, difficult people, and changing people’s minds when things seem to be escalating and getting stuck.

And you want some of those “difficult people’s skills” in life :).

5. Pre-Suasion

Pre-suasion book cover

By R Cialdini
Summary | Amazon

This is the sequel of Influence, but it might have actually been its prequel. Pre-suasion focuses on the science of priming (which newer studies have called into question by the way).

However, “replication crisis” notwithstanding, priming is much more real, and Pre-Suasion will teach a thing or two about preparing the ground for your persuasions.

4. Blindsight

Blindsight book cover

By Johnson and Guhman
Summary | Amazon

This is more large-scale persuasion in the sense of marketing.

But since there is most certainly an overlap between persuasion, influence, and marketing, then we need to reserve a spot for a book like Blindsight, which happens to be one of the very best books at the intersection between marketing and neuroscience.

Plus, there are also plenty of golden nuggets for interpersonal persuasion.

3. Influence

Influence Cialdini book cover

By R Cialdini
Summary | Amazon

Influence needs no introduction. 
And if you need any, then I will presuppose that it’s the first time you are researching information on influencing and persuasion :).

Influence is possibly the biggest seller of all the persuasion books and for good reasons.
A litany of persuasion books that came after it either reference or basically paraphrase Cialdini’s main 6 principles.

2. Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways Ways to Be Persuasive

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive book cover

By J Goldsetein et al
Summary | Amazon

This is a bit like Influence expanded version, providing more examples and more research to give supercharge your power of changing people’s minds (and making more sales, as it adds quite a bit of marketing as well).

1. Methods of Persuasion

methods of persuasion book cover

By N Kolenda
Summary | Amazon

Whaaat, you might be wondering?

A book I have never heard before -or have barely heard of- before “Influence” and “How to Win Friends” -which isn’t even on the list BTW-?

Yes, my friends.
We don’t rank books and courses out of popularity here.
We rank out of quality and value-added.
Plus, it’s always a pleasure for us to bring to you a few lesser-known books that can be better than the more well-known ones.

What I appreciate most in books on influence like “Methods of Persuasion” is that it does not just list a bunch of “triggers” or “techniques”, but instead lays out a more comprehensive system.
In Kolenda’s case, he walks you through an actual persuasion attempt from before making the request, to after making it.

So albeit there were some minor things that I disagreed with -see the full review-, when it comes to psychology applied to persuasion, Nick Kolenda still takes the crown on this best persuasion book list.

Also consider:

  • Maximum Influence: Good overview of 12 well-researched influencing principles
  • The Social Animal: Albeit this is a social psychology book for universities and not a book on influencing, it talks at length on influence and changing people’s minds and opinions. Being based on science and research makes it one of the best resources available. 
  • The Power to Influence: A more sales-oriented program from Tony Robbins. And we all know how good of a sales guy that guy is :).

Also, check out:

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