How to effectively influence people

Have you ever wondered:

“How do you influence others?”

“How are you influenced by others?”

“Is there a science behind it or is it an artistic skill to be honed?”

Influencing others isn’t luck or magic, according to Dr. Robert Cialdini. In his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion“, Dr. Cialdini describes six proven ways to effectively influence others. Most people find it difficult to explain why they made a particular decision. This article will summarize the six principles and allow you to identify the underlying factors that influence decisions.

 Principle 1: Reciprocation


Reciprocation states that people feel indebted to those who do something for them or give them a gift. Dr. Cialdini says that marketers have to make the first move. Giving people free samples, information, positive experiences will in turn make them want to give something back in return.

 Application of principle 1

Think up of ways you can genuinely do nice things for people. It doesn’t have to be grandiose gestures or gifts. Small tokens of appreciation, kind words, and heartfelt actions towards people will make a tremendous difference in their lives and yours.

  • “I got you this potato as a token of your sturdiness. Potatoes are given a bad rap, but they’re a solid food and was staple food of Irish people in the 19th century. You’re rock solid, and this is a memento of your awesomeness” – I did this to a coworker (don’t judge me -_-)

Principle 2: Social Proof

Long queue of people in street, side view

Social proof states that when people are uncertain about a course of action, they tend to look around to those around them to guide their decisions. They are curious to know what others are doing – especially their peers.

Application of principle 2

Pay attention to the next time social proof is at play. Letting people know what the most popular options are, what was recommended by others are examples of positive social proof, and generally sway people towards said options.

  • “This restaurant has a 4.5 rating out of 200+ reviews, nothing else comes close!”

Principle 3: Commitment and Consistency

Heart shaped hand gesture, usual gesture in several countries to have a deal

Commitment and consistency state that people are more likely to do something once they’ve agreed to it verbally or in writing. People strive to be consistent in their commitments, and also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions. It’s also important to note that as people get older, they tend to value consistency more. There is a positive relationship between age and preference for consistency.

Application of principle 3

Ask questions instead of making statements. This gives people the chance to give verbal consent of their own free will. Once people have expressed their commitment, they tend to remain consistent and keep their word.

  • “Could you call me when you’re there?” instead of “Call me when you’re there”

Principle 4: Liking


Liking states that people prefer to say yes to those they know and like. People are also more likely to favor those who:

  • are physically attractive
  • are similar to themselves
  • give them compliments
Application of principle 4

Learn more about people’s preferences. Understanding their likes and dislikes shows you care, and builds trust. Only give genuine compliments that come from the heart. Shallow compliments are distasteful and call into question your word.

  • Gifting an apple to a co-worker who is health conscious

Principle 5: Authority


Authority states that people want to follow the lead of real experts. Factors such as business titles, expensive clothing, and even driving expensive automobiles are proven factors in lending credibility to any individual.

The appearance of authority increases the likelihood that others will comply with requests – even if the authority is illegitimate!

Application of principle 5

Become an expert in your given field and share testimonials from credible, legitimate authorities. Establishing expertise on a given subject, backed by recognition by peers contributes towards your authority.

  • A friend saying “Jimmy is the hockey expert. He’s been a guest commentator on ESPN”

Principle 6: Scarcity


Scarcity states the less there is of something, the more valuable it becomes. The more rare and uncommon an item, the more people want it.

Application of principle 6

Emphasizing the unique qualities of something will increase the perception of scarcity.

  • “It’s the only shop in 30 miles that serves peanut butter noodles”

Understanding these six principle will allow you to understand others and yourself on a deeper level. What do you think about the six principles of influence? What are some other ways you found influence people and/or yourself?

Let me know in the comments below!

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