6 Principles of Influence

Success through influence with resolution direct

This guide is a brief introduction to the 6 principles of influence as defined by Robert Cialdini. This guide will help you become familiar with the six principles as a very first step on your journey to becoming a master of influence. Influence is a vast, interesting and intricate subject, and while no-one can be always 100 percent successful, influence is a learnable skill and with training and practice your ability to influence will increase dramatically.

Liking Influence Rapport Resolution Direct


How it works.

We are more influenced by people who we like or are like. Brands, words and themes that are familiar have more influence on us. The more we like something or someone the more we are influenced by it/them and vice versa.

How to use it.

You can increase the influence we have by being likable. Smiling and projecting people we like is a good way to do this. Become interested in people and don’t just pay lip service to them. You can observe and mirror modality (normally Visual, Auditory, and Kinaesthetic). You can match and mirror body language, communication style, tone, emotion, mannerisms and language. At first it may seem awkward; however, practice is essential to make this seamless and second nature, only then will it be truly effective.

How to spot it.

Observe how people interact with us, sharing pleasantries or asking about our day etc.

Watch for mirroring, echoing and modalities.

Social Proof

social proof sheep resolution direct rapport influence

How it works.

We are 95% imitators and 5% innovators. It is an effective survival strategy to follow the crowd, most of the time. If everyone likes a particular thing, then there is a good chance we will too since we strive to be like everyone else (to some extent).

How to use it.

Social proof can be used in the form of testimonials, likes, subscribers or by labelling items as popular etc. If you have online content, encourage engagement and commenting. As Phineas T. Barnum said 'There's no such thing as bad publicity'  of course this is not true in every case, however a good discussion can create a buzz that will drive people towards looking at new products etc.

How to spot it.

Social proof is everywhere, from people queueing for popular venues, to social media likes etc. Look for any words relating to the number of people that like or use a product, after all 3 million users can't be wrong. 🙂

Commitment and Consistancy Rapport Influence

Commitment and Consistency

How it works.

People strive to stay consistent. Inconsistent people are annoying, excluded or considered unreliable. We stay consistent to values, or ideals or commitments we have made.

How to use it.

A really great way to use this principle is to apply the law of successive approximations, where you can make small commitments that move towards a larger one.  If you can get a person to make a small commitment now, it is easier to get a larger commitment later.

How to spot it.

Companies asking for social media liking or subscribing, are subtly asking for a small commitment, even watching a video is a commitment and investment. Watch out for brand loyalty and other consistencies. Hazing and other enrolment rituals also evoke this principle.


Authority Principle influence rapport Resolution Direct

How it works.

We are social mammals and we have hierarchies just like wolves, chimps or other social mammals. We are driven to follow leaders and to respect the authority of those leaders. In today’s society we recognise authority based on uniforms, (suits), mannerisms, titles, and positions. (and height)

How to use it.

Wear a suit. It has been shown that wearing a suit greatly increases the authority you have when dealing with people. This is effective most of the time, except when dealing with groups or individuals that are anti-authority (for whatever reason) in which case use the liking principle instead and match your audience.

Clothes of course are not the only way to have authority, titles and positions work too. You can use the authority by being an expert (or authority) in a subject too.

How to spot it.

Observe the clothes, titles, mannerisms and honorifics people use. Look for terms like expert, established, specialist etc. Also look for how staging or seating is used to add height, desks etc used to add barriers.

diamond scarcity influence rapport resolution direct


How it works.

Scarcity works by making things that are less attainable more desirable. The scarcity can be one of number, e.g. "only 5 left" or time e.g. "today only" or exclusivity, e.g. "for loyal customers only". We are also more driven by scare resources that we can see are in demand by other people. This can create illogical desires for an item just because it is scarce and not for the value of the item or its utility.

How to use it.

Scarcity is highly effective; however, it should be used with caution. If you use scarcity to sell where the scarcity is the primary driver of the sale then you risk your customers suffering buyer’s remorse, which can damage or destroy the relationship. Always make sure that there is true value in the offering over and above the scarcity and that the scarcity is real, e.g. don’t say limited stock if it is not limited.

How to spot it.

You will see scarcity being used to sell or influence everywhere. Limited time offers, low stock, sales, etc. If you feel drawn to an offer that is framed as being scarce, step back a moment and ask, if this was in plentiful supply, or not limited or scarce, would you still want it right now?


reciprocity influence rapport resolution direct

How it works.

"No Cost = Lots of Obligation" Giving a free sample or gift creates an obligation to reciprocate by favour or purchasing. The rule was established to develop the nature of reciprocal relationships without the giver feeling the fear of loss. This creates an advantage for societies that have this rule.

This is exploited by various organisations and charities where a gift is given and no matter how unwanted this gift is the power of the reciprocity full vastly increases the reciprocation of the recipients.

The feeling of indebtedness is very uncomfortable, so much so that we are often willing to perform a larger favour to unburden ourselves from this feeling.

Reciprocal concessions. If a person makes a concession towards us, we feel obligated to make a concession towards them. Offer, rejection and retreat is a very subtle and effective form of reciprocity.

How to use it.

Give first. If you give to your potential customers, and give freely, then you will engage the law of reciprocity. However, this is very powerful and therefore it should only be used ethically, where you have the client’s best interests in mind. If you place a value on the gift you will switch the frame to one of market forces and not one of social forces, this is less desirable. It is almost impossible to switch back.

How to spot it.

Be on the lookout for free trials, free gifts, free services etc. These are often employed by companies to gain new customers. However often they are not employed in the most effective way. I.e. a free gift after you buy is not the same as a free gift included with a purchase.

Contrast influence rapport rresolution direct

Contrast (BONUS Principle)


To compare to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc.

To exhibit unlikeness on comparison with something else; form a contrast.

“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.”

― Edgar Allan Poe

“We are so constituted that we can gain intense pleasure only from the contrast, and only very little from the condition itself.”

― Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

“Nothing exists without its opposite.”

― Chris Crutcher, Whale Talk

How it works.

Contrast affects every experience we have, in fact without contrast we can have no experience. We are using contrast every moment to define our reality, with every sense we have (all 20+ 🙂 We can only know if something is good value, by contrasting with something else. When used to influence we will find it easier to contrast similar things.

How to use it.

Contrast is the most important aspect of influence, since it defines our reality, therefore it is really important to determine and control, what is being contrasted, when you are influencing. For example, if the first question asked of you is "how much is your product?"  and you answer, then that will be the one piece of information used to contrast your product with another. It can be prudent to not answer that question until you have expounded other aspects of your product that can be contrasted instead. Another approach is to create a different contrast, by asking "Is price the most important aspect to you?".

How to spot it. 

Contrast can be seen everywhere, when deciding or not to be influenced, look for what you are using to contrast. Is it price, or features or does it pertain to one of the 6 principles such as social proof or liking? Feature lists and comparisons are all ways that companies use contrast to influence us. Watch out for decoys as these are used to create contrast too.