Influence Patterns

If you’d like to fine-tune your ability to influence others, a book I can recommend is Influence; The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.  In this book, Cialdini outlines the key influence patterns that exist in human communication.

Once you are aware of these ‘unconscious’ patterns of influence you can use them to increase your power and reduce the likelihood that you will be manipulated by others.

I will cover the first three of the six influence patterns here:

1. Reciprocation

The moment we are given something the “law of reciprocity” takes over and compels us to want to return the favour with an action of our own. Free offers and promotional gifts are all examples of reciprocation at work.

Tactic: Counter reciprocation by being aware of it’s influence, and if returning the “favour” is not in line with your business outcomes – then don’t swallow the bait!

2. Commitment and Consistency

Once something is written down it becomes a kind of ‘law’.  By asking “universal” type questions that tend to provoke “yes” answers, such as “Are you interested in paying less tax?” you create a situation where it will be difficult to say no, or to go back on what you have already agreed to! Then, if it is written down it is even more difficult to say no!

Tactic: Counter this pattern by playing devils advocate and using caution, or answering yes with conditions eg. “Yes, I am interested in saving tax, but not if that means buying your services now”.

3.      Social Proof

This is like ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’’.  The influence exists where we believe that “if everyone else is doing/buying it, it must be good. Used positively, social proof can help win business – the testimonial or phone reference is a good way to use this pattern to your advantage. You can also use the social proof response as a gauge of market conditions for example: when there are lots of Chinese people in a Chinese restaurant!

Tactic: Counter this influence pattern by recognising how your individuality and personal outcomes shape your decision-making – not the crowd response.