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Create Business Leverage Using Cialdini's 6 Principles of Influence

How do we influence people to buy our products? To invest in our business? How do others influence us, our judgments and decision-making?

Robert Cialdini, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University found that all ways in which we influence people fall into six primary groupings: The Six Principles of Influence. He published them in his 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and they have become the basis for many of the most effective sales and marketing strategies in history. The Six Principles of Influence are:

1. Reciprocity – we generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and treat others as they treat us. This can lead us to feel obliged to offer concessions or discounts to others if they have offered them to us because we’re uncomfortable with feeling indebted to them.

2. Commitment (and Consistency) – we have a deep desire to be consistent. For this reason, once we’ve committed to something (even if tricked into it), we’re then more inclined to go through with it or something consistent with it.

3. Social Proof – “safety in numbers.” We assume that if lots of other people are doing something, then it must be OK.

4. Liking – we’re more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms – familiarity, people might give us compliments, or we find them trustworthy.

5. Authority – We feel a sense of duty or obligation to people in positions of authority, with important designations, job titles etc.

6. Scarcity – things are more attractive when their availability is limited, or when we stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favourable terms.

They are tools that can be used very effectively to influence peoples’ decisions – positively or negatively in everything from finding your mate to closing a sale. The temptation is to think of how to use them to gain favour aligned with what our ego wants. My hope is that everyone reading this, and Cialdini’s book, reflects on them further. Be aware of their power and use them intuitively and authentically with awareness of their effect. Intention matters and being aware of how you are consciously or unconsciously using these principles, or how others are using them on you, is useful. How does it feel? are they being used ethically? For example, reciprocity can come to you as the result of genuine kindness and helpfulness versus an attempt to manipulate. Helping people to act consistently with their values is a good thing versus getting them to act consistently with a previous action that you tricked them into; creating a community of social proof that is directing their energies toward something good is more ethical than creating a short-lived frenzy appealing to greed; providing well-intentioned authoritative leadership is more conscious than projecting false authority; and providing a unique value proposition that adds real and sustainable value for discerning people is more honourable than creating artificial scarcity that appeals to peoples' desire for exclusivity and results in divisiveness.

You can use these principles like most people have in business - to take away peoples' power to choose or instead to empower people to make better choices.

If you'd like to learn more about improving your business success by ethically increasing your business influence and decision making I welcome you to contact me at the email address or phone number below.

Written By Rob Pilz © Copyright December 23, 2013 Revelation Business Solutions Ltd.

About Rob Pilz

A senior executive, including former CFO, of public and private companies, I have more than 20 years experience building, optimizing and financing businesses ranging from Fortune 500‘s to Delloite’s Technology Fast 50TM. With a talent for bringing out the best in leaders and an expertise in creating leverage, my current passion is building a network of highly conscious leaders generating a virtuous cycle of positive change and wealth. I am constantly looking for ways to improve the odds of business success and have developed a process combining mind, heart and gut to make better faster decisions that I call Zero Point Decision MakingTM. I welcome your questions or comments to my email address at or phone 646-480-0507.


This short whiteboard video from Influence at Work summarizes The Six Principles of Influence

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