The Six Laws of Influence

This is a follow-up to my previous post on knowledge as currency.
One of the most celebrated books in modern America is Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People for good reason. The art of persuasion cannot be understated. Like I said in my last post, those who leverage knowledge as currency when they are in high demand are poised to win, but what’s the point if no one knows (how great you are)?
Dale Carnegie famously defined diplomacy as this, “the art of letting someone have your own way.”
The great thing about this is  you don’t have to be a type A personality to influence people either. Normally I stay away from self-help sort of mumbo jumbo or self-assessments on your fixed personality traits such as the Meyer-Briggs test for good reason – what I find flawed in those sort of assessments is that they categorize you into a fixed type of person even if you might be 50% assertive and 50% introverted.
They also assume that you can never change. History books are filled with incredible stories of entrepreneurs who failed several times before succeeding and people who have turned their life around after drug addictions, traumatic events, etc. The fact is, the past is the past. To me, there’s no point over analyzing it. Do you think those people sat around drinking frappucinos asking each other, “Hmmm.. are you ENTJ or INFJ?” Are you like me, and think it is dangerous to bucket yourself into one of these groups whereby you create a self-fulfilled prophecy around the “type” of personality you are?

The art of persuasion applies to all personality types and all areas of life. Here are some tips to understand persuasion as diplomacy.

In the Influence: The Pscyhology of Persuasion, the six laws of influence are tactics and rationales behind diplomacy. The below is an excerpt from the University of Kent‘s discussion of the book:
The law of scarcity
For example, if you let an interviewer know that you have other interviews coming up, they will be more interested in you as you are perceived as a sought after candidate.Items are more valuable to us when their availability is limited.
Scarcity determines the value of an item. For example if a customer is told that an item is in short supply which will soon run out they are more likely to buy it. Time also works here. A time limit is placed on the customers opportunity to buy something. Customers are told by the seller that unless they buy immediately, the price will increase next week. Auctions such as ebay create a buyer frenzy often resulting in higher prices than the object’s value. If something is expensive, we tend to assume that it must be of high quality because it is in demand: one jewellery shop doubled the priced of its items and were surprised to find that sales increased!
The law of reciprocity
If you give something to people, they feel compelled to return the favour.  People feel obliged to return a favour when somebody does something for them first. They feel bad if they don’t reciprocate. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.
After someone has turned down a large request, they are very likely to agree to a smaller request. This is why shop staff are trained to show the most expensive item first. A salesman who suggested a 3 year warranty costing £100 found that most customers refused but were then happy to buy 1 year warranty costing £30.
The law of authority
We are more likely to comply with someone who is (or resembles) an authority. In other words, people prefer to take advice from “experts”. There is a deep seated duty to authority within us learned from parents, school, religious authorities etc.
The law of liking
We are more inclined to follow the lead of someone who is similar to us rather than someone who is dissimilar. We learn better from people who are similar to us. We are more likely to help people who dress like us, are the same age as us, or have similar backgrounds and interests. We even prefer people whose names are similar to ours. For this reason, sales trainers teach trainees to mirror and match the customer’s body posture, mood and verbal style.
Research at the University of Sussex found that people more easily remember faces of their own race, age group or gender than those of others.
It’s also very important to remember and use people’s names. Others are much more likely to like you and respond to you if you say “Hello Sarah” rather than just “Hello”.
The law of social proof
We view a behaviour as more likely to be correct, the more we see others performing it. We assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something that we don’t. Especially when we are uncertain, we are more likely to trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd. This explains herd or lemming behaviour. For example when there is panic in the stock market everyone follows everyone else and sells, however great investors such as Warren Buffett, know that this is the time when the best bargains are to be had, and instead, buy.
The law of commitment and consistency
Consistency is seen as desirable as it is associated with strength, honesty, stability and logic.Inconsistent people may be seen as two-faced, indecisive and “butterflies”: never committing themselves for long enough to complete tasks. People will do more to stay consistent with their commitments and beliefs if they have already taken a small initial step.
If you can get someone to do you a small favour, they are more likely to grant you a larger favour later on. If someone does you a favour, let them know afterwards what happened: they will appreciate your feedback and may be able to help you further in future.
We evaluate a university more positively when we have got into it or a car we have bought when we own it. We look for the good points in the choice we have made or items we have bought as this justifies to ourselves our consistency of choice.
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