Today I’m going to briefly review Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition, by Dr. Robert Cialdini.
There’s a reason Cialdini is the man Scott Adams refers to as the Godzilla of persuasion, and regularly recommends his book (see the Scott Adams Persuasion Reading List here): Cialdini literally wrote the book on persuasion. Influence is that book, the foundation upon which most every understanding we have of how people are influenced — or persuaded — to behave in a given way. It’s a dry read for the most part but Cialdini covers an entire field worth of studies, research, and experiments. The methods he covers are also quite topical: you can see many of President Trump’s behaviors in these tactics (spoiler alert: when he asks for more than he expects, and then settles for a compromise, which is a major part of the book).
As I read through the pages I began to recognize tactics used in the media, mostly in advertisements, to persuade one to buy products. But I also recognized the tricks and traps scammers use, and use well: even if I didn’t know what they were directly, seeing the psychological triggers laid bare opened my eyes to a lot of dirty tricks that people tend to fall for.
Everyone should learn this level of basic psychology/persuasion even if they don’t want to engage in it, for one simple reason: knowing can be a shield against falling for the same tricks in your own life. That’s not something that everyone comes with, and even if you think you’re street smart you can always learn. There’s something to be said for seeing it all codified and laid out in black and white.
I will say this, though, in reference to my above statement that at times the book is dry: if you aren’t passionate about the subject, make sure not to read the book around bed time. Several times I found myself re-reading paragraphs in sections that were less interesting, just to make sure my brain was processing them. This is not the sort of behavior I like to fall into, and I had to make sure to read it while wide awake. It’s not Cialdini’s fault: it’s the subject matter. There’s not a really good way to present experiments and research in an exciting, text-only format.
If you have any interest at all in persuading others — making sales, for example — then this book is a definite must read. It’s also a must read for anyone curious about the way others might be influencing them, or how the President pushes for policy changes. It may not change your world, but it is definitely an eye-opener. But don’t take my word for it: several mindset and success oriented experts recommend this book or at least acknowledge the tactics laid out therein, most notably (and regularly) Scott Adams. Everyone should be aware of the tactics, mindset, and psychology involved in persuasion and influence. Especially now, in our wired-to-the-eyeballs world, where we are surrounded by well-funded, well researched campaigns designed to influence us.
Check it out: