It was in Hamlet that William Shakespeare penned the famous line, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I came across this quote while doing some research for a training class I’ll be leading on attitude but the more I thought about that simple sentence the more I thought about how persuasion differs from manipulation. Some people are uncomfortable with the psychology of persuasion because they think using that knowledge gives them an unfair advantage over others.
Shell and Mario Moussa, authors of The Art of WOO, have a wonderful quote that goes to the heart of the matter so to speak. They wrote, “An earnest and sincere lover buys flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who succeeds to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds, we don’t blame the flowers and candy. We rightly question his character.”
you’re on a diet but it’s usually received with great joy by little kids on Halloween.
what does this have to do with understanding the psychology of persuasion? The six principles of influence as defined by Dr. Cialdini are neither good nor bad. They simply describe how people respond to one another and each can be used in positive ways or each can be used to take advantage of another person. Let’s take a brief look at each principle to see how this can happen.
this can be used against us when untrustworthy types create a false sense of urgency to get us to act in the moment rather than giving us time to consider all options.
always good, the principles can be used in manipulative ways by some people who are only looking to get their way no matter the cost to the other, unsuspecting person. Just like the honest and sincere lover and the cad, it comes down to the motive of the person wielding the principles. I trust that you as a reader have come to see my focus is on the ethical use so win-win situations are created. Even if you don’t see yourself as the influencing type, understanding the principles will also help you protect yourself from the cad.