Robert Cialdini: The 7 Techniques To Influence Anyone Of Anything

Robert Cialdini's The 7 Techniques To Influence Anyone Of Anything

Episode 184

If I can tell my children to read one post of mine, it would be this post.

Influence is how they will navigate a world of uncertainty.

Robert Cialdini is the most influential person in the world. And by that I mean, he wrote the book, “Influence”, which sold 3 million copies and defines the six critical aspects of all influence.

Now he has a new book, “Pre-Suasion“, going 10x deeper into the concepts of persuasion. I got him on my podcast so I can ask the 1,000 questions I have.

Small story from the book: If you name a restaurant “Studio 97” instead of “Studio 17” people are more likely to tip higher.

If you ask a girl for her phone number outside a flower store (triggering feelings of romance), she is more likely to give it to you than if you ask her outside a motorcycle store.

And 500 other stories. The environment is just as important as what you say.

Before the podcast began, I gave him a book as a gift: “The Anxiety of Influence”, a history of poetry.

What would poetry have to do with influence and marketing?

In all art, since the beginning of time, artists have built on the work of the artists the generation before them.

Beethoven depended on a Mozart to be a Beethoven. Picasso depended on a Cezanne. Without Michelson, there would be no Einstein.

But poets, for some reason, would deny being influenced. “I never even read Ezra Pound,” shouted one poet at a critic. Poets want to be seen as original.

Nobody is 100% original. This is the anxiety of influence.

Almost all of our decisions and even creativity are outsourced to the people around us who influence us: peers, teachers, religion, parents, bosses, etc.

Our personality is our own particular mishmash of influences.

How we deal with that anxiety, how we recognize the influences, learn from them, build from them, is the birth of all of our creativity.

Let me summarize the seven aspects of influence:

  1. Reciprocity – if you give someone a Christmas card they will want to return the favor
  2. Likability – make yourself trustworthy. For instance, outline the negatives of dealing with you.
  3. Consistency – ask someone for a favor. Now they will say to themselves, “I am the type of person who does James a favor.”
  4. Social Proof – if you are trying to get someone to do X, show them that “a lot of your peers do X.” For instance, if you are at a bar and you are a guy trying to meet women, being your women friends and not your guy friends with you.
  5. Authority – “four out of five dentists say..”
  6. Scarcity – “only 100 iPhones left at this store!”
  7. Unity – you and I are the same because: location, values, religion, etc.

I’ve used each of the above in business. They work. They will make you money.

The entire purpose of language is to influence. We are not strong animals. We are weak. The language of influence saved us.

Probably a word like, “Run!” was the first word spoken. A word of influence. And it worked. I’m still running from the things I fear.

So speak to influence. Don’t speak to call a flower yellow. Speak to breathe spirit into an idea, to be enthusiastic, to convey emotion, to influence. This is the only way to have impact with your unique creativity.

I gave Robert the book as a gift (“reciprocity”), assuming we would have a great podcast. And we did.

But then I thought later, I can’t even remember how Robert got on my podcast. I highly recommended his book in the podcast and even in this post.

As he got into his car after the podcast in order to go to his next interview, I started thinking, “Hmmm, who influenced who?”


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  • FlyingComic

    The “Pre-Suasion” link at Amazon has the Kindle version as more expensive than the paperback version. I was “presuaded” (sic) not to buy. I guess it does work. ;)

  • Justin Pickering

    These are just average sales techniques. Nothing spectacular here. Plus, the “scarcity” or “create a need where there is none” technique is pretty despicable. I hang up or walk away from people who use it.

    • Derek Hunter

      I disagree. These are excellent techniques that average salespeople don’t recognize. That’s why they’re average, at best. Your idea of “scarcity” (leaving aside we live in a world of abundance) is simply that: your idea. It’s your interpretation. Thus, the purpose of the article. Context matters. Semantics matter. One could think of “scarcity” as, “I have a limited amount of time and talent and I’m offering it to you first. If you don’t want or need my help, I will offer it to someone who does.” What is described in this article is a summary of a craft that takes years to master. There’s nothing average or despicable about it.

      • Justin Pickering

        But you don’t have limited talent or limited time. Those are the perceptions. Those are perceptions a mechanical , post industrial world with a corrupt media system imposes on people so they keep buying crap they don’t need. It’s also the mentality the ultra rich jam down the throats of the populace so that the poor are demonized and turned into lazy, worthless bums in the eyes of many. Scarcity is the mentality that creates debt and poverty and keeps this planet in an economic tailspin to the 3rd level of hell. We sit and bicker/banter meaninglessly on a blog while millions die in famine, in war…precisely because of the despicable mentality outlined herein. Scarcity is also the mother of the two saddest, most pathetic excuses in adult life: “I can’t do it because I don’t have the time/money”. Those are the words that keep the common man common, poor, and living life like an automaton. That, my friend, is why this mentality is despicable. I could use the word “insidious” if you want… that’s pretty fitting as well….

    • This would be like saying, “these are just average thinking techniques,” in response to hearing Plato discuss what he’s learned about life since writing the Republic. It’s like uh ya no duh he wrote the book on it.

      • Justin Pickering

        So because someone has sold a lot of books, has made a lot of money, went to Cornell and has a famous blog means we can’t disagree with them? Do you think Plato got it all right all the time?

  • Loved this episode in particular James, thanks for getting the wonderful Robert Cialdini on your show, I must have bought a dozen copies of Influence over the years.

  • Steven Newton

    I don’t want people coming at me with strategies to make me violate my own self-interest. I want people to come at me with perfect sincerity, telling me exactly what they have to offer so I can make a good choice.

    • Justin Pickering

      Thank you Steven. I completely agree. What you outline is sales with integrity… not sales with some stupid gimmicks attached to it. Sad thing is… we spend so much time lying to one another and the levels of hypocrisy are so disgustingly high that we shy away from the plain truth. Instead we turn to gimmicks and shell out money to the people who invented them. It’s a con as old as the hills.

      • Steven Newton

        Why do people say because these strategies do work on some they are justified using them? Some people respond to threats but we know not to threaten each other. To see others as a walking dollar sign makes human relations predatorial.

  • toddsqui

    I don’t know… in 2008, none of my “I’m a fresh graduate with fresh ideas!” arguments persuaded anyone into hiring me, and I subsequently had to leave the country (USA) because I was effectively useless in the job market.

  • Paulo Moraes Moura

    My ultimate never failing technique to influence people: be honest. The outcomes are incredible.

  • Murray Beaulieu

    This is one of the best podcasts you have done. Very interesting with some useful strategies and techniques. I disagree 1000% with the negative comments below.

  • Paul Kozar

    This is too much to remember

  • Isabella

    That was a great interview! thanks a lot James as usual. I did subscribed :) i was happy to realise that I know and have used some of those techniques but not always worked. still, interesting, though.

  • l lawson

    I got to this late,but this goes to the heart of successfully interacting with others. Good for parents, children, teachers, job seekers, employees,, and associates, in or out of business for any reason. Soft skills are increasing demanded by many companies. Just use this with integrity.