Principles of Influence

The concept

The six principles of influence were popularised by Robert Cialdini in his wonderful book Influence.   While his work comes from a marketing perspective, the principles of influence have much broader application, particularly in leadership.  The six principles of influence are:

1. Reciprocity – people are more likely to do something for you, if you have done something for them.

2. Scarcity – people will act if they fear missing out.

3. Authority – people are more likely to act on requests from someone with credibility and power.

4. Consistency – people are keen to be seen to act consistently with their stated commitments.

5. Liking – people will do things for people they like.

6. Social proof – people want to act how others are acting.

Why it’s useful

This amazingly simple set of principles helps you to develop a more sophisticated set of influencing strategies  than merely attempting to use rational argument!

How/when to apply it

When recognising that you need to influence an individual or group of people, you can use the six principles as a checklist to identify possible tactics to drive the actions you want them to take.  This can be applied in such situations as leading change, engaging with stakeholders, managing up and across in organisations and leading behaviour change campaigns.  So, for your identified individuals/groups, get clear on what you want them to do, then think which of the principles might be effective in that situation and then brainstorm and select the specific tactics to employ – this becomes the basis for your persuasion plan!

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