What are Principles of Persuasion?

Over the years I’ve heard many people talk about tips, tricks, and tactics to influence and persuade people. I recoiled at that language because we (Cialdini Method Certified Trainers) teach principles of persuasion.

But what exactly are “principles of persuasion”?

What is a Principle?

Let’s start with principle. One definition for principle is a basic proven rule or law, governing human behavior.

When it comes to human psychology, I prefer using the word rule, not law. That’s because, when I think of a law, such as the law of gravity, it’s something that will happen each and every time, unless some force from outside acts upon it. Unfortunately, human behavior isn’t so predictable.

When it comes to human behavior, as I shared last week, there’s no magic wand to get everyone to do what you want all the time. However, there are rules that people generally operate by when it comes to thinking and behavior. Understanding those rule is paramount in communications.

What is persuasion?

Aristotle said, “Persuasion was the art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.” That’s a great definition! Persuasion is about changing behavior. It might start with a change in conscious thought but more often than not, it’s the subconscious that’s registering and acting on information.

Dale Carnegie had a lot to say about Influence. However, Carnegie was not a social scientist. He never performed any experiments to test his assumptions. Rather, he observed successful people during his lifetime and cataloged characteristics and actions they displayed. While not a scientist, he was an astute observer of human behavior!

As good as Aristotle’s definition of persuasion is, I would replace one word to make it more precise. Rather than calling it “art”, we can now say it’s “science”. That’s because there are seven decades of research from social psychologists and behavioral economists into what causes someone to say yes and take action.

With that small change, we can now say, “Persuasion is the science of getting someone to do something they would ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

Principles of Persuasion

Now we’re ready to define “principles of persuasion.” When we combine our definitions, here’s what we come up with – The principles of persuasion are scientifically proven rules for changing people’s behavior.

The seven universal (they apply across all societies) principles of persuasion, as popularized by Robert Cialdini, include: liking, unity, reciprocity, authority, social proof, consistency & commitment, and scarcity.

It’s important that you understand these principles and live by them ethically in your communication. Do so and you will enjoy more career success as well as peace and happiness in your personal life.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, Brian was personally trained and endorsed by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to use influence at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 650,000 people around the world!


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.