Anyone who claims influence to not be a part of their lives, either hasn’t given it much thought or hasn’t ever interacted with another human.

This year I set out to discover what causes people to make decisions. Influence is the best summary I’ve seen. Cialdini’s work is the source material for the likes of Tony Robbins, who has positively influenced over 40 million people around the world to make significant life changes (I’m one of them). And it happens to be Warren Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger’s, often mentioned number one book recommendation. I met Cialdini at the Berkshire Meeting in Omaha last year and what I’ve learned since then has been nothing short of amazing.

The beauty of it is that Cialdini has done decades of reasearch to prove the points he makes (which take about 300 pages to explain), but the nature of the points is simple as can be–and I bet a number of you have already experienced them. Whether you knew it or not is a different story.

So here are the 6 top influence tactics along with a quick guide of how you can use them TODAY. Use them wisely, be honest and go with a good heart–please do not abuse them.

1. Reciprocation: We always want to return the favor. Do things for others and they will feel obligated to do something for you in return. Even tiny acts of giving often result in disproportionate acts in return. The interesting part here is that the size of the favor or gift does not matter much. As long as you do it.

2. Authority: We listen to people who seem important. Be it someone wearing a suit or a uniform, with an MD after their name or with a big sounding title on their business card. Who cares if they are actually powerful or if their expertise is relevant to our situation–we still listen. Dress and act sharp and position yourself accordingly.

3. Commitment and Consistency: We want to stay consistent to past decisions. Once someone makes a decision, no matter how small, they are likely to act consistent to that in the future. Even the smallest sale takes someone from a prospect to a customer–much more likely to buy again (and a larger quantity) in the future. If a customer talks about or endorses a product they are much more likely to refer and keep buying. Testimonials don’t just provide credibility. They solidify that customer’s commitment.

4. Social Proof: People follow the crowd. The more people doing something, the more likely others are to follow. We find safety in numbers. This is another reason testimonials are huge. Do everything possible to show that the masses endorse you, your product or your service. Much less selling is required when you can point to countless other happy customers. Why do you think bar tenders often have a visible tip jar? If others are tipping then maybe I should too. Whether you have one customer or one million, leverage it.

5. Liking: People say yes to those they like. Rapport is the foundation of all interactions. Find something in common. A hometown, sports team, the same bus route. Move and talk similar to the way they do. The more they like you and feel you’re like them, the more they act in your favor. How difficult is it for you to say no to someone you genuinely like?

6. Scarcity & Urgency: We want what we can’t have. Whether it’s a woman, a backordered iPhone, acceptance to the premier business school or the club in Vegas with the longest line. The harder it is to get, the more we want it. Make your products exclusive. Create waiting lists. And set purchase deadlines. We rarely act unless we have to. Interview your customers to be sure they’re a good fit. The second someone realizes they have to work for something, is the second intrigue sets in. Maybe playing hard to get is a worthwhile strategy after all.

So there you have it. Just the tip of the iceberg, but honestly, this is likely all many of you will need to make a significant improvement in your abiblity to influence others. This stuff can and should be used everywhere, not just in business. Very rarely does an interaction occur where influence isn’t involved. Deciding on where to go lunch with the guys in the office, where to go on vacation, whether to take a bus or a cab, what to register for your wedding…influence is everywhere. I don’t care what you’re doing. If there is someone else there, someone is doing the influencing and someone is being influenced.

Oh and keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with being influenced as long as you are ok with that before entering the situation and you recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes it feels good to be sold on something.

Now that you have the tools, a final word of guidance: Be genuine. This stuff will blow up in your face and damage your relationships if you don’t mean what you say and do. Don’t tell someone there’s a deadline if there’s not. They’ll see right though it. It may yield a little short term success, but that’s about all the good it will do.

I repeat, these are not tricks to deceive. They are tools to help others make what you feel to be the best decision. Have fun with them. And please be genuine.

What have you noticed often influences you? Have you ever been duped? What’s your best technique? Share them with us in the comments.

If you liked this article, please Tweet about it or tell your friends about it on Facebook.

Buy Influence at Amazon

Other books you might enjoy:

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  • Alex

    I don’t trust anthony robbins, while I do like Robert becuase he is a scientist. I think much of what Anthony says is rubbish since he doesn’t back up his proof. Says who emotion is our motivation? I like reading more of science stuff, but you got the title right on becuase Mr. Robbins knows how to talk.

  • Scott

    @Alex. Thanks for the comment. Interesting perspective. There is no question that Cialdini has amazing science to back up his work. That is why Tony is such a big fan–he credits Cialdini all the time. I have been learning from Tony’s books, programs and live events for years and have gotten tremendous value. What’s interesting is that he does not claim to have invented any of the stuff himself. He goes right out and says that he found all of the scientists in the world (like Cialdini) in all areas of peak performance and has consolidated them into his Anthony Robbins package. Add in the fact that he’s an amazing influencer and you have a pretty powerful offering. I think there is a lot to be learned from both.

    Great points. I bet Tony gets that argument a lot.

    Also, I just checked out your blog. I like where you’re headed with your eating. The most important thing to get right. I try to stick to Michael Pollan’s Eat Food, Not too much, Mostly plants approach. I love it.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • wedding photography victoria

    I like reading more of science stuff…

  • Mani Masuria

    Hi Scott and Alex,
    I must agree with Scott’s comments regarding Tony Robbins, I have never met the guy personally, and being an enthusiastic personal development / improvement fan, I have taken many learnings from Tony, which has made my life the amazing life it is today. I don’t just listen to Tony, I have read 100’s of books on this subject including the book ‘Influence’ in question. (fantastic book)…

    Alex, life is our classroom, and the more we are open to learning the more we become successful within and without our lives..

    • Scott

      I could not agree more Mani. The Power in the work that Tony and some many others like him teach, is unreal. And it’s all there for the taking!

      Glad you found it useful. Cialdini’s work has made some awesome things happen for me as well. It actually makes you a truly better person when used in the right way.


  • Darren

    Scott, this is a great book, easily one of my top 5 favourites. I think Tony Robbins ultimately has a cult following that turns some people off to him. I’ve read a lot of his stuff, and take most with a grain of salt. The man has been successful, he’s a great coach, there is much to learn from him but the root of all that is what I am more interested in learning these days, stuff like Influence, Drive, The Inside Edge, etc…If I can get the root information, I can interpret it differently and come to my own conclusions, then apply it my way.

    I believe that change is more about consistency of repetitive action over the long-term. Obviously Tony has made a living off intensive weekend courses, that induce a shock factor to many who leave feeling charged (myself included) but I question it as being Intrinsic Motivation or Extrinsic 1 or 2 weeks later. Obviously I think the former is more important for success.


    • Scott

      Agreed Darren. Tony has his positives and his negatives but one cannot deny the impact he has had on the world in a massively positive way. His intentions are something we all ought to admire. I’m glad you’re able to filter it all appropriately and use in the best way you know how!

  • Mani Masuria

    Darren my dear friend, if your not willing to give people credit at the same time wishing to obtain their talents how will you advance in life?

    I’m telling you as a friend and well wisher, Darren, a tree is judged by the fruits it produces. Tony Robbins may not be your cup of tea but take a step back and look at what he has achieved, look at how many thousands or even millions of people he has influenced into better ‘life-fulfilling’ people. Yes, I am one of them, some years back I contemplated suicide due to my financial worries and lack of fulfilment, but now I wouldnt say I have financial abundance, but I have no financial worries to the point of asking myself the question, “where shall I invest” Tony Robbins had a massive hand in this, not by meeting him, but listening to his tapes. Others including Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Brian Johnson and our mutual friend Scott (yes you my friend). For that alone I have lots of respect for them and others who are equally appreciative of life.
    I used to be like you, but now, rather then bad-mouth people, I thank them, thank them for who they are and what they have achieved, then I move along. This is the secret, the more I appreciate the good in people, the more I seem to get lucky in my own achievements. The proof is in the pudding….. Try it!

    • Darren


      Thanks for your concern, but I think perhaps I was unclear about what I was getting at. I’ve read both of his books, I’ve purchased and gone through a lot of his material. I’ve also read through lots of ‘self-help’ material over the years. I was not “bad-mouthing” anyone, in fact I give praise numerous times. Tony is a brilliant man, but I don’t think because he is, that I should strive to be like him either to consider myself a success as a coach. I think Tony is a success because he strived to be Tony and I should strive to be me, I do not wish to have his talents, I wish to utilize my own talents to serve my own purpose in life.

      I think you’ve confuse criticism with “bad-mouthing.” I simply expressed a greater interest in learning more behind-the-scenes data that many of the individuals you listed, interpret and utilize in their own way. I also alluded to the numerous conversations with very successful individuals who as soon as I mention the work of Tony, jump into a defensive cult mode. I think that is unfortunate for the record, I’m very fond of the saying, “don’t believe everything you read, and don’t read everything you believe.” I’m willing to give anything a chance, I will take from it, that, which I find useful and ignore, that, which I find useless.

      I utilize some of the techniques he’s developed over the years, he’s even recently opened up a coaching program that helps other coaches, become better coaches. I dig that, but that’s doesn’t mean I cannot build a critique, I believe it shows that I’ve given the material deep thought. Debate is one of the highest forms of flattery.

      Best of luck in your adventure,

  • Mani Masuria

    My dear friend Darren,

    Further to your second comment clarifying your note, (I wish to thank you for by the way), I am sorry for causing you any distress and confirm it’s my-bad. My intention was to simply save you such valuable time that I had lost and learnt the hard way.

    You know there was a time when I used to fight with the World on all my points of view, I spent so long fighting to protect my false-ego that I lost my way, as a result I almost lost my life, and that’s not a good place believe me.

    I respect your comments and God given right, so please forgive me if I may have causes you any distress or discomfort.

    Always wish you well my brother.

    • Scott

      Awesome to see such deep discussion fellas! This is what I love seeing on this site more than anything. Sounds like both of you know how to get the most out of inspirational changers of the world. We are all in good company! I look forward to seeing you both around for the adventure to come. The community here needs it and loves it!

      Thank you both.

  • JT

    I am a dating coach, and work to help guys succeed with women. I have done a lot of research on what it takes to be popular and have people like them. From what I’ve concluded, compliments are a big factor in that equation. I really like what you’ve posted on what seems to be just about the same exact subject. I would love it if you checked out my post at and gave me your feedback. JT

  • Berna Sorey

    One of several tests of leadership may be the ability to recognize a difficulty before it becomes an emergency.
    For many people, the weekly paycheck is ‘take-home pay’ because residence is the one place they are able to afford to choose it.

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  • coconut oil

    I first read about it in a newspaper article a few months ago,
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  • Nick

    I have always been told and genuinely agree that people buy from people they like! Solid list! Thanks!