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The Art Of Persuasion

“Good leaders persuade, not manipulate.”

The ability to persuade people is an extremely powerful skill for every entrepreneur, especially executives who want to strengthen relationships and earn trust and support from their stakeholders. Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” (1984) illustrates 6 key principles of persuasion that all managers should apply in their organizations. By mastering these principles, executives could successfully influence people and drive them toward shared goals.

   1. Liking

Research has shown that factors such as similarity and praise are the key to influence people. An executive should take time to learn about and understand his or her employees, co-workers, and clients, uncover similarities between the two and provide positive remarks about their contributions.

Similarity, in terms of shared beliefs and values, preferences, interests, etc. draws people together. Managers can use them to create bonds with their employees and colleagues, especially in the early stages of the relationship or partnership as it would create goodwill and trustworthiness which will definitely be beneficial in every encounter and collaboration in the future.

Likewise, genuine compliments on another person’s attitudes, work ethics, and job performances are considered a credible generator of affection, which will generate liking and trust in return. They serve as a motivator of others, allowing them to be more engaged and empowered to do better. As such, they will be more receptive to almost every persuasion or convincing if managers are trying to build support for a new project. 

   2. Reciprocity

The idea of reciprocity is that people often feel obliged to provide something in return when received favors from others. Reciprocity can be gift-giving or exchange, but it can also be as subtle as giving them time, assistance, valuable information, and praise. 

In a business context, it’s an important and wise move for leaders who are trying to foster positive attitudes and personal relationships. For example, managers can offer employees attention and kindness in return for credibility and loyalty. No matter if it’s emotional reciprocation or material reciprocation, there are many ways to leverage reciprocity to get what you want in life.

   3. Social proof

Social proof emphasizes the importance of social influence on one’s behavior. It refers to a phenomenon wherein people prefer undertaking actions if they can relate to those who performed similar actions before them. 

When trying to persuade someone, be it, prospective customers, higher-level executives or employees, managers should utilize positive testimonials from others who share the same circumstances. It eliminates uncertainty or ambiguity and stands a better chance of receiving approval than one with no concrete evidence. 

   4. Consistency

While generating affection from others is important, it’s not sufficient to make people feel committed or obliged to follow what they are asked to do. In general, human beings are more likely to stick to a certain thing or action once they have truly committed to it as they want to appear consistent with such commitment. 

From a business perspective, marketing in particular, if marketers are able to make their customers committed to something, they almost succeed in motivating them to follow through on that decision knowing that they will feel compelled to remain consistent with the initial behavior. 

   5. Authority

When it comes to making decisions, many depend on experts who have specialized knowledge and experience in specific areas to show them the most optimal solution. As such, executives must be able to expose their expertise in an attempt to exert influence on others. 

Regardless, there are a few problems associated with this principle. Firstly, many take showing authority as a way to manipulate people, which is extremely severe as it could lead to damaged credibility and other commitment issues. Rather, they should make others feel engaged and respected by showing positive traits, supportive attitudes and leading by example.

Additionally, the title only is not convincing enough for people, especially customers unfamiliar with the new product, to put their trust in a manager who fails to display their capabilities and competency. In this situation, an executive should find a way to touch on their background and expertise, as well as past experiences to give others a better insight into whether that expert can be reliable or not.

   6. Scarcity

The last key principle of persuasion is the power of scarcity, or the unique benefits and exclusive information that might have a major impact on one’s decision. It refers to the situation where people want what they are afraid they can’t have; thus, managers could take advantage of short supply or a time deadline so as to drive engagement and motivate them to do things in the other’s favor. However, it’s crucial for managers to be genuine rather than giving a false alarm when using scarcity techniques to persuade people, as it’s considered an act of deceiving for personal gains. If dishonesty is detected, the manipulator will lose connection, trust, and support, as well as every opportunity to get accepted.


There are many ways to persuade a colleague, client, or employee to do what you want. These principles of liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority, and scarcity when combined and used appropriately can greatly influence others’ decisions and get them to stay committed. Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to approach them with honesty and genuineness because in the long run, manipulative tactics will expose themselves and hurt one’s credibility tremendously.

According to Influence At Work + Medium


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