In the organizational competition of ideas, there are some fundamental persuasive techniques that, when used with sincerity and authenticity, prove quite effective.  One of our students, Amen Mugisha, and I recently sat down to discuss the classic article entitled, “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion,” by Dr. Robert Cialdini.  Below is Amen’s summary of the key takeaways:

Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.
by Robert B. Cialdini (2001)

Summarized by:  Amen Mugisha

How can managers and leaders, in general, persuade their employees? Cialdini’s research results provide six principles to follow:

  1. The principle of LIKING:  “People like those who love them.” Find similarities and praises to give to followers. The bond created then produces trust that later generates affection for the leader.
  2. The principle of RECIPROCITY: “People repay in kind.” People easily repay what has been given. Gifts often help another person create a cooperative attitude on both sides. Give people what you receive.
  3. The principle of SOCIAL PROOF: “People follow the lead of similar others.” Finding someone with power that has a similar background as you will enable you to better influence that person. People tend to believe others that are relatable.
  4. The principle of CONSISTENCY: “People align with their clear commitments.” Get your people to speak and put in writing their responsibilities to encourage dedication and results.  People desire to act consistently with their beliefs and values, especially the ones they’ve written down.
  5. The principle of AUTHORITY: “People defer to experts.” People trust someone who is an expert, and as a leader, they will not just know your expertise, it will need to be displayed. The consistent exposure to your expertise on a matter then allows the followers to trust the leader.
  6. The principle of SCARCITY: “People want more of what they have less of.” Whatever is scarce is what people usually value.  Use this information to drive the critical player’s attention. This principle, however, should follow an ethical code, and the information should be genuine.

Article Citation: Cialdini, R. B. (2001).  Harnessing the science of persuasion.  Harvard Business Review, October, 72-79.

BigSpeak Speaker’s Bureau also produced a high quality video summary of the article which can be found on YouTube.