Human beings are social animals. Not a day passes by without interacting with people in both personal and professional life. We do everything in our hands to make people like us, accept us and agree with us. Our communication skills play a major role in making the image that we want of ourselves in the eyes of the people we are trying to impress. It is not even only the effective conviction of the messages we are trying to send but the how we structure the message so that it appeals to people. To persuade someone is to make them believe in your ideas.
Persuasion is not that simple. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to sell a good or a service or just sending your idea across, you must know how psychology works and what makes people agree. Yes! Human psyche also plays a major role in making a person reject or accept another person’s offer, keeping aside a person’s perspective about the thing that has been offered. What I am saying is it is not always the attractiveness and the benefits that could be derived from the thing that is presented but also the way in which it is presented.
Dr Robert B Cialdini, a renowned psychologist and an academician, has defined six principles of persuasion in his book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ and each one of them are briefly explained in the following section:
When you do something nice for someone, they might do something nice for you in return as well or simply, a positive action leads to a positive action. Humans have a tendency to return favors so as to not feel indebted. This is the universal principle of reciprocity. It is demonstrated when you are offered something for free, maybe in a restaurant or a store, and it makes you wanna go back and/or make another purchase. Reciprocity is also at play when a colleague offers to do some of your work when your workload is high and you do the same for them in their time of need.
Like the literal meaning of the word ‘scarcity’, when a particular thing is available in limited amounts, it makes you wanna lay your hand on it. We want to have things that are limited edition because of the uniqueness compared to things that are in abundance and it makes us feel special. Very general examples can be seen on online shopping sites when a particular article is about to get sold out and they inform it to you by displaying ‘only 3 left in stock’. In personal life, a person might value you more if you give to them, something that is scarce – your time.
When you associate, whatever you are trying to convey, with a person who is an expert in the field or has relevant knowledge, the chances of your audience believing you become significantly higher. In everyday life, we see advertisements in which a dentist recommends a particular toothpaste brand or a doctor recommends a soap. The principle of authority is at play here. Even when you are making a point in a conversation with your friends or colleagues, people might get immediately convinced the moment you quote a credible source to support your argument.
If someone was to get interviewed on news about their views on education of underprivileged children, there’s a good chance that they might agree to make a donation to an NGO who is working towards the very cause. People like to be consistent with their words and actions. Why would anyone want to be called a hypocrite and even if no one points it out, at least their perspective of themselves will change but it’s still inacceptable and leads to discontent.
This principle doesn’t need as much explanation. People who are likable find persuading people much easier than people who are not. It is important to make your intended audience like you for them to hear what you are offering or you would like to tell. Companies appoint celebrities for brand endorsements because they are influential and people like and follow them. With a complete stranger, you might wanna start with a personal conversation and see what you and them have in common to make you like them before you get down to business.
- Social Proof
Not only do people follow celebrities, they also follow what is being done on a large scale. If something has become a trend and almost everyone in every section of the society is doing it, you will do it too. It doesn’t even have to be every section. If most of your colleagues are carpooling to commute to the office, you will want to carpool too. Even when you read reviews about a product or a movie, they influence your decision of whether you will buy it or watch it or not.