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The influence blueprint: Sharing the 7 principles that I have learned

Updated: Apr 9

Two years ago, I began my journey into personal branding. I noticed some impressive influencers out there who stand out.

They're charismatic and persuasive. Gary Vee is a prime example.

I wanted to understand their secret. So, being myself, I dove into books and stumbled upon "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Dr. Robert Cialdini.

This book digs into why people say "yes."

In today's article, I'll break down seven key principles from the book. These principles can help you whether you're selling something or working in a corporate job.

1. Authority

In our information-overloaded world, people often turn to authorities for guidance.

Individuals who are authoritative, credible, and knowledgeable in their fields are more influential and persuasive than those who are not. This is because trust, built on authority and credibility, makes us more inclined to follow them.

Qualifications, testimonials, and even wearing a uniform can help establish a sense of authority.

Think of my family dentist—his wall is covered in certifications! That's part of why we trust him.

2. Scarcity

When something seems limited, we desire it more.

Whenever I want to book hotels at platforms like Booking.com, that “1 room left” offer always has my attention. But when I return to find it gone, I feel disappointed and more eager to grab it next time.

Cialdini connects this idea to Daniel Kahneman’s loss aversion bias, suggesting we're more driven by avoiding loss than gaining something.

One of the influence principles by Dr. Robert Cialdini is scarcity. When something seems limited, we desire it more. Just like how the "last room" offer will always have our attention. This is an example of loss aversion bias by Daniel Kahneman.

3. Social Proof

We often seek confirmation from others when unsure.

Since we are naturally social beings, we tend to follow the crowd, feeling it is important to match the group's norms.

In decision-making, we often observe others before forming our own opinions. This is especially true for me when I cannot decide on which restaurant to dine at, and I must look at its reviews.

4. Commitment/ Consistency

We inherently desire to be consistent with our identity or self-image.

From a persuasion standpoint, if I get you to do something small, you are likely to see yourself as that kind of person and do it again. Plus, if I suggest increasing those actions, you are more inclined to do so.

In one famous set of studies, researchers found that homeowners were more willing to put up an ugly sign supporting safe driving because they had previously shown support with a small postcard.

This principle uses consistency by getting people to make public, written commitments, leading to bigger changes. Another recent study shows asking patients to write down their future appointments reduced missed appointments by 18%.

5. Reciprocation

Giving first has a big impact. We hate feeling indebted, so when we receive something, we feel the need to give back.

In an experiment at restaurants, waiters often give a small gift like a mint along with the bill. Surprisingly, this tiny gesture significantly affects tips.

Offering one mint led to about a 3% increase. Doubling the gift to two mints quadrupled tips by 14%. Yet, the most striking result came when the waiter offered one mint, then added an extra saying, “For you nice people.” This simple act boosted tips by 23%, showcasing the influence of how the gift was given, not just what was given.

6. Liking

It's straightforward: we tend to listen to people we like.

But what causes one person to like another? Studies tell us that there are three important factors.

First, we are drawn to people who resemble us. Second, compliments play a big role — we are fond of those who praise us. Third, we favour individuals who collaborate with us toward common aims.

Cialdini advised highlighting similarities to bridge gaps between groups. He also stressed the impact of complimenting enduring traits rather than specific actions.

7. Unity

Humans naturally crave social connections and belongingness within groups or families.

Cialdini's unity principle emphasizes shared identities. Brands can increase engagement by making their audience feel like part of a family, like how Warren Buffett addresses shareholders:

I will tell you what I would say to my family today if they asked me about Berkshire’s future.

You can also check out this article on 3 killer persuasion techniques from Warren Buffett.

Each principle of influence holds its unique power, but if I had to pick one, I'd lean towards the principle of reciprocity.

The concept of giving to receive creates a strong sense of obligation in human interactions. When you offer something of value or kindness to someone, they often feel compelled to reciprocate. It's a fundamental aspect of building relationships, fostering goodwill, and establishing trust.

What about you? Which principle of influence do you find most valuable and why? Let me know in the comments.


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