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Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert B. Cialdini

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Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

A Superb Text About Influence, January 25, 2003
Reviewer: M. A Netzley "mnetzley" (Singapore)

As I sit here and write, I wonder why I did not draft this review long before now. I read Cialdini's book about five years ago and have been hooked ever since. It is simply a superb book about influence.

Cialdini believes that influence is a science. This idea attracted me. As a rhetorician, I have always thought of persuasion as more of an art. Cialdini, however, makes a first-rate case for the science point of view. But maybe most importantly, he makes his case in a well-written, intelligent, and entertaining manner. Not only is this an important book to read, it is a fun book to read too.

He introduces you to six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. A chapter is devoted to each and you quickly see why Cialdini looks at influence as a science. Each principle is backed by social scientific testing and restesting. Each chapter is also filled with interesting examples that help you see how each principle can be applied. By the end of the book, I had little doubt that these are six important dimensions of human interaction.

I highly recommend this book to all professionals. It does not matter if you are a manager, sales person, pastor, or non-profit volunteer. The ideas in this book, once applied, will make it easier for you to accomplish your goals. In a video featuring the author, Professor Cialdini even goes so far as to promise that these principles can help you influence the most resistant of all audiences--your children.

With a claim like that, who wouldn't be intrigued?

My advice is to read this sooner rather than later. You will be quite glad you did.

SEMINAL., May 21, 2003
Reviewer: Shashank Tripathi

This is most certainly not only a book about negotiation, it is for anyone interested in a gripping read about human psychology and our subconscious response to external stimuli. An interesting example: if you are at a party and you begin talking with a member of the opposite sex whom you find moderately attractive, it is very likely that your initial assessment of this person will decrease when a "beautiful" girl or guy ambles over to join the conversation. Obviously the first person did not morph into someone physically different, but did become comparatively less appealing when smothered in the shadow cast by the "beautiful" person.

While "Getting to Yes" and "You can negotiate anything" were flush with such interesting real-life nuggets and the best on offer in their time, "Influence" would rate as my personal favorite that conceptually digs deep into the art of persuation.

For one thing, Cialdini's writing style is entertaining and exudes common sense. Which makes it worth the ride for just about anyone interested in an intelligent read. I'd even venture to say that he comes across as accessible as Thomas Schelling ("Strategy of Conflict", "Choice and Consequence") in the kinds of intuitive but compelling examples that he uses to illustrate his points.

For another, this is one of the rare books that explain the *psychology* of WHY and HOW human beings/animals respond the way they do. What is different about his hypotheses? Cialdini breaks down his analysis into 6 broad principles consciously or subconsciously employed by people to persuade their counterparts (consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity) and then discusses each of these principles in term of its ability to elicit "automatic, mindless compliance" from us. And if you do not feel that simply being aware of such compliance tactics is defense enough, he goes on to offer useful, practical shields in a scattering of sections such as "How to Say No".

This is an incredibly useful book that one can only hope does not fall into the hands of one's adversary. Clearly required reading for anyone involved in the business of persuasion (marketing/sales, diplomacy, strategy etc) and highly recommended for everyone else.

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