Developing Your Management And Business Skills: The Six Principles Of Influence

The Six Principles of Influence were defined by Robert Cialdini, and published in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” in 1984. The principles are: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. The principles should be used honestly and truthfully and not to manipulate or deceive. Let’s look at each one, and how you might use it in the scenario we are discussing of getting an idea accepted by senior management.

1. Reciprocity.

People feel obliged to return favours. So if you have helped a colleague, they may feel obliged to support your proposal. You could identify someone whose support you would value, and support them or do some favours for them. Or you may be in a position to remind others of favours already done for them

2. Commitment and Consistency.

We like to be consistent. So a colleague who has been interested in your proposal initially will probably continue to support it as the idea is developed. Try to get people’s commitment and “buy in” early on, by involving them in the development of the idea.

3. Social Proof.

Or “herd behaviour “. People will go into a busy shop, but are less likely to go into an empty one. If someone supports your idea, others they will follow. Work hard to get “buy in” from other influencers in your organisation.

4. Liking.

We are more likely to be influenced by people we like, or who are similar in age, race or background, because we relate to them and tend to trust them. Build trust and support over time with the decision makers.

5. Authority.

We are used to following the lead of people in positions of authority. Build support from senior figures and established influencers, even if they are not the decision makers for your project

6. Scarcity.

Things are more attractive when they are scarce or there is a time pressure to buy them at a discount. This is difficult to use directly in our scenario, but you could use urgency, or the pressure of consequences if your ideas is not accepted.

A successful influencer is usually a likeable personality who can connect with their audience by building rapport. They are good listeners. Empathetic, excellent connectors, confident in their own ability. They are reliable and responsible, and build trust.

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