Persuasion: Summary & Review (Dave Lakhani)

persuasion book cover

Persuasion teaches readers how to persuade and influence people.
Dave Lakhani, the author, does a good job of providing some of the main fundamentals of effective persuasion.

Bullet Summary

  • The difference between persuasion and manipulation is the intent of deceiving
  • Persuasion is based on truth, honesty, inquisitiveness and the ability to tell a good story

Persuasion Summary

Dave Lakhani got interested in persuasion and manipulation because of his childhood with a mother who was the victim of a cult.

The cult mandated parents to beat hyperactive children to “stamp the devil out” and Lakhani left home as soon as he could.

Since then, he studied and researched persuasion and manipulation.

Persuasion VS Manipulation

Dave Lakhani dedicates part of “Persuasion” to explain the difference between persuasion and manipulation.

Lakhani mentions Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, who said that all attempts to influence are manipulations.

But Dave Lakhani disagrees.
He says that in manipulation there is only the interest of the manipulator and the manipulated loses out.

In persuasion, the target of persuasion does not lose out and there can be a win-win.

I agree with Dave Lakhani here and it’s an important difference.

Also see:

Manipulation: Techniques, Strategies, & Ethics

Why Manipulation is Short Term

Manipulation only works when there is a lack of information, experience, or critical thought from the manipulated. 

When the manipulated thinks again over the course of the events or acquires the missing information, the manipulation becomes clear.
And that’s why manipulation is short term: the manipulated eventually catches up.

How to Manipulate

Dave Lakhani shares how manipulation occurs and what the steps are so that people can understand and defend themselves against manipulation.

The steps are:

  1. Look for people who are searching, looking for answers or salvation
  2. Look for people who are unsure and unconfident
  3. Test their knowledge and commitment 
  4. Present yourself as an expert and test if they push back or disagree with what you say
  5. Use generalizations to get them to agree with you
  6. Build rapport
  7. Put them into a future situation where they benefited from following you (or your advice)
  8. Subtly present your proposal, and make it a one time offer
  9. Build more rapport and trust before you depart
  10. Continuous the process until they’re fully committed and then you can let them into your special insider circle

Also read:

Best Manipulation Books

The Foundation of Persuasion is Who You Are

If you think of persuasion as building a house, then the persona, or who you are, is the foundation of that house.

Your persona must be well-developed and fully support the message, being fully congruent with what you espouse, say or sell.

The Three Elements of Your Persona

There are three elements of your persona that you must hone and develop to persuade at the highest levels:

  1. Appearance
  2. Voice and communication skills
  3. Positioning (body language)

Dave Lakhani then goes on to describe each one of them.

Become an Expert

Becoming a formal expert in your area of influence is the single smartest thing you can do.

Similar to other books such as “The 4 Hour Work Week“, Lakhani lays out a plan to become an expert in 30 days.
But I’m not a big believer of 30 days expertise plans.

Tell People They Have Permission

Implying or outright telling people they have (your) permission to do something is a powerful reminder of their childhood days when they could only go ahead when a parent would allow them to.

It sets you as the one with power and can remove the last defenses and give the final nudge to complying to your request.

Also read:

The author would sometimes ask the higher ranking officer in the room if he gives permission to the people around to take the decisions that best serve the interest of the company.
Later on, if any of them reaches an impasse, Lakhani reminds them they have permission from the big boss to go ahead.

Leverage Social Matching

The author mentions social proof from the classical Robert Cialdini’s book Influence.

Dave Lakhani uses the word “matching” thought because you want to show that someone just like them has done what you want them to do. That takes away the risk that people will not want to follow a random crowd in case they have a rebellious streak.

persuasion book cover

Real Life Applications

  • Get authoritative people to transfer persuasion power to you by endorsing you
  • Know the person you are persuading better than they know you
  • Let people talk so you can find and leverage the similarities between you two
  • If you say sales end on a certain day, don’t give it away to the latecomers who ask for the discounted price
  • The yes ladder can be effective but people are likely to change their mind right after if you haven’t properly persuaded them first
  • Decide on a cut-off time: many salespeople don’t maximize their time because they waste too much time on people who aren’t going to buy


  • Blogging Advice is Dated (and now wrong)

The author righteously suggests having a good website and a popular blog to enhance your online presence and perceived expertise.

His advice though is not current anymore and writing 200-400 words is actually harmful advice in today’s environment.

This is not necessarily the author’s fault since SEO has changed a lot in the years.

  • Some exaggerated initial claims

So many influences and persuasion books start by making huge claims about what you will learn and be able to do.

I am not one of the people who enjoy that.

Persuasion Review

A good overview of persuasion, a great analysis of the difference between persuasion and manipulation.

What I loved the most about Persuasion by Dave Lakhani though is the focus on personality.
I believe that is the most important fundamental in any persuasion attempt and too often it goes unmentioned in many similar books.

Also check the:

or get the book on Amazon

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