Sunday 28 April 2013

11. Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B Cialdini

Click Whir, click whir, click whir...the ongoing theme throughout this book representing the  automaticity of one individual influencing another. Each chapter follows a format of reviewing a broad based influencing-technique or psychological principle which can be used in influencing behavior. There are ample references to support all the claims made in the book and more over there are defenses in each chapter so that the reader can protect himself.

In relation to the click whir concept Cialdini examines; reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, scarcity and instant influence as they influence behavior and action. Each of these are chapters in the book where individuals implement these techniques in research, business or day to day lives gain a desired outcome. Having implemented some of the concepts in this book with my family I was intrigued how the automaticity of click whir simply happening. For instance, using the word because in a request highly increases the likelihood of compliance with the request regardless of the reasoning stated after the word because. In making a few requests of family members using this technique I gained compliance more often than not, which was quite interesting.

From there on, I began to wonder, in every chapter, how often these techniques are thought of as manipulative, or underhanded. Well there are two answers to this very relevant question. First, specific use of techniques to manipulate of garner favor can become transparent and their impact lessened, especially if a recipient feels manipulated. Second, the techniques listed here are more of natural phenomenon than deceptive practices. These are common everyday occurrences which are socially accepted despite the goal of influence. Take, for example, the laugh track in most sitcoms. This is a blatant attempt to take advantage of its impact of making dull material seem more funny than actuality. That being said, networks keep these tracks rolling because they understand the positive reproductions on views. More to the point, the viewers are completely okay with the presence of the laugh track!

The final thought of this book from a sales perspective, is whether or not these techniques can be used in the business world without harming the client relationship. In my opinion the answer is definitely yes. This book offers methods for interacting with people that provide for consistency and mutually beneficial relationships. Influence is more than worth an in depth read as it will have you engaged in deep thought think of your personal and business life in a new light of the science of influence.