Six roads to move others in your direction

Paul Nolan

In his new book, “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade,” author Robert Cialdini explains the best communicators capitalize on “privileged moments for change,” in which audiences become receptive to a message before they experience it. “Optimal persuasion is achieved through optimal pre-susasion,” he states. “To change minds, savvy pre-suaders first change ‘states of minds.’”

Cialdini revisits six key concepts that he explored in his 2006 best-seller “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” that are aligned especially well with the broad goal of obtaining agreement.

Reciprocation – Behavioral scientists say people tend to believe that those who have given benefits to us are entitled to benefits from us in return. To optimize the returns of what is given, it should be experienced as meaningful, unexpected and customized.

Liking– The No. 1 rule for salespeople is not to get your customer to like you, as is so often stated. Rather, the No. 1 rule is to show customers that you genuinely like them. Similarities and compliments cause people to feel that you like them, and once they come to recognize that you like them, they’ll want to do business with you.

Social proof – People think it is appropriate for them to believe, feel or do something to the extent that others, especially comparable others, are believing, feeling or doing it. Restaurant managers can increase the demand for particular dishes on their menus merely by labeling them “most popular.” When this entirely honest tactic was tried in a set of restaurants in Beijing, China, each dish became 13 percent to 20 percent more popular.

Authority– Sometimes information becomes persuasive only because an authority is its source. This is especially true when the recipient is uncertain of what to do. A credible authority possesses expertise and trustworthiness.

Scarcity– We want more of what we can have less of. The scarcity of an item does more than raise the possibility of loss; it also raises the judged value of that item.

Consistency – We want to be (and to be seen) as consistent with our existing commitments, such as previous statements we’ve made, stands we’ve taken and actions we’ve performed. Communicators who can get a prospect to take a pre-suasive step, even a small one, in the direction of a particular idea or entity will increase one’s willingness to take a much larger, congruent step when asked.