Instant Influence by Robert Cialdini describes 6 major influence triggers.
Instant Influence is a pleasant and instructive reading experience with lots of research and practical examples.
- There are 3 kind of people in relation to influencing knowledge: ignorant (and miss opportunities); abusers (unethical); appropriate users (man of integrity and long term success)
- The major triggers of influence are: Reciprocity; Scarcity; Authority; Consensus; Commitment and Consistency; Friendship and Liking
Instant Influence by Robert Cialdini: Summary
Cialdini differentiates among three different kind of people:
- Bunglers of influence: those oblivious to the power of influence. Can’t influence not even when it’s in everyone’s interest
- Smuggler of influence: those who know and abuse influence triggers. They are often in bad faith
- Slew of influence: use influence triggers appropriately and for win-win outcomes. They’re often more successful in the long run
Influence Trigger: Reciprocity
Reciprocity is the tendency by which we human beings feel obliged to give back to people who gave to us first.
Extra nudge for the egoists
Some people will not give back, in which case you give them an extra nudge. Cialdini uses the example of an employee who never wants to cover for his manager, in spite of the manager always giving him a free hour whenever needed.
Instead of stopping doing him a favor which would not help anyone, the next time the employee asks for an hour the manager says:
“Sure, glad to let you have 1h for something unexpected because I know ho important it is for me to count on you to give me an extra hour when something unxpected comes up”
Basically, you clearly show him the proper fair way while still being generous.
En: My own example when collecting a neighbor’s heavy package from the postman. When the neighbor rang to my door instead of thanking me looked at me expectantly -as if I now needed to place it in the elevator as well-. I stood there for a couple of seconds and then added “yes, I took it because I was glad to make a favor to a neighbor”. After the little nudge, she profusely thanked me.
Avoid reciprocity pitfall
Cialdini gives the example of an employee who has driven his manager after from and to work for a whole week. Now it’s promotion time but another employee in another department is better suited. How does the manager avoid falling into the trap of feeling obliged to give back?
Cialdini says that you give back before the evaluation time comes.
Personal favor should be exchanged with personal favor.
Claim your reciprocity rights
Some people after a favor they have done would say things like:
- “oh it’s no big deal, just part of the job” or
- “don’t worry about it, that’s what I’m here for right” or
- “oh don’t think about it, I’d do it for anyone”
That’s a terrible because you earned your points fair and square. Don’t give it away. And instead, say:
Oh don’t worry about it, I know you would have done the same for me”
Smugglers of influence
Some people will use the law of reciprocity to trick you. Cialdini discusses the now famous example of Hare Krishna devotees at the airports. They give you a flower as a gift, not accept it back and then ask for a donation.
Most people would feel obliged to give back.
But then, Cialdini adds, in the long run people learned the trick and the revenues tumbled.
Slew of influence
Polite, great service, is a win-win employment of the law of reciprocity. The customer appreciates your extra attention, feels good and also feels compelled to come back.
Basically, Cialdini says, the best way to get what you want is to give it first.
Influence Trigger II: Scarcity
Robert Cialdini cites the example of the “original” Coca Cola becoming extremely popular once it started being phased out of the market. People wanted to grab it now because it was soon not going to be available anymore.
Influence Amplifier: Competition
Scarcity is turbo-charged if there’s competition for a product.
He cites the famous “cookies experiment” on supply and demand, whereby cookies becoming scarce because of high demand were valued the highest.
The same worked for information scarcity. Telling buyers that the beef was going to be scarce substantially increased sales. Telling people the information was not publicly available (ie.: even the information is scarce) brought a 6 fold increase.
Robert Cialdini also tells the story of his brother profiting with the use of scarcity and competition.
What he did was simple and effective: he scheduled all the viewers for his cars at the same time. Once the second person got there Cialdini would tell him to wait as the first in line had priority. Then a third person would arrive. And suddenly there’s huge demand for the car.
The first person in line feels that if he doesn’t get the car right away.. Someone else will. And nobody negotiated on the price.
Influence Trigger III: Authority
We are more likely to listen to someone whom we perceive as an authority in the field.
For example, you are more likely to follow recommendations provided by doctor rather than a physical therapist.
Authority has been shown to have some dark effects as well. The famous Milgram’s experiment, or airplane pilots mistakes going unchecked because of people’s fear of standing up to authority.
Authority Dark Side
Robert Cialdini says it’s mostly authoritarian leaders who go unchallenged, and you don’t want to be an authoritarian leader and have your mistakes go uncorrected. However, you shouldn’t swing on the opposite direction either and always make a vote: you have been given authority because, supposedly, you know better.
Here’s what you do then: you tell them to always give you their opinion and you’ll take them into account.
Influence Amplifier: Credible Authority
Usually credibility grows over time, but if you don’t have time, here’s what Instant Influence by Robert Cialdini recommends: mention a drawback about your product first.
When you mention a negative first, then you become instantly more credible.
Robert Cialdini highlights the example of a restaurant waiter. He would discouraging what the client ordered saying it wasn’t as fresh as usual and then suggesting instead something slightly less cheaper. Instant credibility for the waiter.
Influence Trigger IV: Consensus
To decide what we like we usually look at what others like.
Thus the tendency to visit the restaurant with lots of people rather than the empty one nearby.
Another hideous example of the principle of Consensus is canned laughter in TV shows. Actors hate it, directors hate it… But it works: people do laugh more when hearing recorded laughs (by the way, it works even better when we believe it’s people in our group to laugh).
Influence Amplifier: Familiarity and Similarity
The Consensus is much more powerful in swaying our decisions when:
- Unfamiliar with a situation: when we don’t know what to do we tend to feel lost and look at what others are doing.
- Consensus is from people like us: For example, seeing our neighbours or colleagues are more influential than completely random people.
Influence Trigger V: Commitment
The force behind Commitment is our will to consistency. We want to feel and show ourselves like people who are consistent with their values and beliefs.
A great influencer indeed will look at what people already commit to, and then align their offer accordingly.
Indeed people who took a small lapel pin to support cancer research were significantly more likely to donate money to the research compared to people who had not been wearing the pin.
What happened, is that people wearing the pin started seeing themselves as people who supported cancer research, so saying “no” to a donation request felt in-congruent with how they saw themselves.
Influence Amplifier: Active, Public and Voluntary
Commitment is much more powerful when it’s public, voluntary (no coercion) and active (people take action).
Influence Trigger VI: Friendship and Liking
Our friends and the people we like are much more likely to influence us than strangers or people we are neutral to.
Influence Amplifier: similarity, praise, cooperation
We like people who are like ourselves. This goes into all kinds of realms, including age, place of birth, race, religion, politics and even cigarette smoking habits.
Influence by Robert Cialdini also explains how cooperation will make people like each other, as it’s obvious to anyone who’s played in a team.
Smugglers of influence
Robert Cialdini talks about an insurance company instructing sales reps to like anything prominent in the prospect’s house. Cialdini says there are two major downsides:
- People will dislike their job
- You don’t influence yourself: Influence works both ways! If you compliment somethings you don’t like you will miss the opportunity to connect with your prospect, and it will shine through.
The solution is simple: look for something you genuinely like when giving a praise.
Bonus: what the most skilled do
Instant Influence by Robert Cialdini says that the most skilled influencers don’t spend the most time on structuring the request itself, but on what comes before the request (the contrast principle).
What I loved:
Commonalities more important than differences
Cialdini says that most training he attended start by saying how their industry is different and peculiar. There might differences indeed, but he believes that the similarities are probably more and more important.
I couldn’t agree more.
Honesty is for yourself first
I loved how Robert Cialdini mentions one of the main reasons to be honest is the effect it has your own self esteem. Not just for others, not just for long term success, but simply for yourself.
Going through life knowing you’re doing the right thing is indeed the basis for a strong, unassailable frame of self confidence. It’s because it takes immense internal strength -and external props often- to resist any environmental force pushing you into the shortcut.
Smugglers, Bumglers, Slew
I loved the notion of how people can use influence triggers in an ethical or unethical manner. Or completely miss on any benefit simply by ignoring influencing tools altogether. Incidentally, this is exactly the point of The Power Moves: moving and awakening people from bunglers to smugglers -when strictly needed- and slews.
You will only find cassette for this, so I recommend you snag influence on Amazon.