Book Summaries Business Psychology

Influence Summary (8/10)

Influence by Robert Cialdini teaches us about the science of persuasion. The author himself spent his life studying the most common techniques that were used by salesmen and persuaders, and the six most pervasive strategies were presented in this book. 

The Six Laws of Persuasion 


People feel obliged to give back. When you offer someone a free gift, they will feel guilty if they couldn’t do something for you. If you’ve ever gotten a free PDF online or drink when at a bar, then you’ve been a victim of this strategy. The idea is that a gift is a seemingly innocent gesture, you are not forcing the other person to give you anything back in return. People love to feel that they’re in control even when they’re really not. When they repay your act of kindness with a purchase, they feel better about themselves and don’t feel that they were duped at all. 


 People don’t like to feel that their actions don’t follow a logical sequence of causes and effects. Gillette used this model when they sold their razors for very cheap. They don’t make money from the razors themselves, but from the razor blades that you have to regularly replace. People who have bought the original Gillette razor are more likely to replace their current razor blade, even if it’s cheaper to switch to another product. 

Social Proof 

They constantly look for social proof to validate their decisions. They either want to hear that someone they trust to endorse a product they are thinking of buying, they often seek this confirmation from their friends and family, but will rely on strangers’ opinions if that is all that is available. Marketers take advantage of this by finding the right people (or enough people) to approve their messages.


The best salesmen are charismatic, they make you like them. In fact, they make you like them so much that you want to be their friend after you buy the product they are selling. They do this by finding common interests. Joseph Duveen, the famous art dealer, did this to perfection. He studied his target, the millionaire Andrew Mellon, for years. He learned about all of his tastes in art.

Mellon didn’t like Duveen during those years, because the latter was flamboyant and talkative – the opposite of his serious, reserved self. Yet, Duveen was determined in making the millionaire his best client, and eventually, he succeeded in doing so. He ‘coincidentally’ intercepted him at an elevator, when Melon was on his way to an art gallery. Duveen accompanied the man and throughout the night, Melon surprisingly discovered that he shared Duveen’s taste, this made him think very highly of the art dealer. Melon indeed became Duveen’s best client. 


In philosophy, the argument from authority is a logical fallacy. Just because someone who is ‘important’ says something, that doesn’t mean what he said is true. Every argument must be evaluated according to its merits. But most people aren’t philosophers, at least not very good ones. If you can get president of your country to endorse your company, you’re going to see spectacular success.


Abundance breeds complacency. If you are trying to close a deal with a client, and you tell them that you have all the time in the world and that many of the same offers you are making will exist in the future, you’re probably not going to succeed. That’s why marketers use the illusion of scarcity to entice its buyers. ‘Limited Time’ offers and ‘only 1 left!’ are always of signalling scarcity. When the consumer sees these messages, they feel pressured to act now or regret it in the future.

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"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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