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Influence by Robert Cialdini - 3 Big Ideas

Time for 3 Big Ideas!

Today we’re gonna learn:

1. The psychology of bad decision-making

2. The six shortcuts of persuasion

3. How to spot and defend against an unfair sales gambit

Starting… now!

Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Dr Cialdini, or the “Godfather of Influence,” as he’s regarded by his peers, wrote this bestseller that’s on all the top shelves of psychologists and marketers alike.

Backed by Dr. Cialdini’s 35 years of evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research, this book is all about the science of persuasion and the short cuts of influence, whether you want to use them (Thanos pic) or make better decisions by being aware of them.

So what are 3 Big Ideas from this book?

1. Triggers

You hear a bunch of screeching and rustling. You look around and see red robin feathers flying everywhere around a kerfuffle. “A territory dispute” you note to yourself and you move in stealthily…

As you get closer, you see that there’s only one bird, one red robin attacking just a clump of red robin feathers. Then you look and see two scientists with clipboards and it all makes sense - Fixed action patterns

Mother turkeys mother little chicks... Well, not really. You can take anything from a little strange box to a replica of their most hated rival and if you play a cheep-cheep noise from it, the mother turkey will gather it up under her to keep it warm. So really, mother turkeys mother things that go cheep-cheep.

The Graylag goose will roll eggs back into her nest, even if they are doorknobs or golf balls… So really the goose rolls round things into her nest.

And red robins will attack other red robins if they enter their territory – or more specifically, red robins will attack other red robin feathers.

These animals have these stimulus reflexes called “fixed action patterns.” A Mother turkey takes care of things that cheep. A Goose rolls egg-like things back into its nest. Red robins fight off things that have red robin feathers.

If you take too long to figure out whether it’s actually your chick, if it’s actually an egg, or if it’s actually a rival – it could be too late. So, to save cognitive resources, the behavior just gets associated with a trigger stimulus – cheep-cheep, roundness, or red robin feathers.

But maybe you could see how this could end up being an issue.

Think of a cleaner fish. The cleaner has an agreement with other big fish; the cleaner will eat the parasites and other harmful things out of the big fish’s mouth and get a meal while the big fish gets a healthy mouth. Win, win. Whenever the cleaner fish does his dance, it triggers a fixed action pattern and the big fish relaxes and opens wide.

Time to introduce the saber-toothed blenny. This is not a cleaner fish – but he knows the dance. The big fish’s mouth opens up at the sight of the dance but instead of a clean mouth, the big fish gets an ow mouth.

The fixed action pattern of the big fish has just been taken advantage of.

Yeah but why are we talking about this? This is all just stuff that happens to dumb animals. Humans don’t have fixed action patterns you can take advantage of, right?

2. The tricks of the human saber-tooth-blenny

Just like with the turkeys, geese, and robins, humans have cues to help them make the right decisions. These developed over long spans of time and are practically fool-proof… that is, until we are fooled.

Over time, exploiters, profiteers, and other manipulators have figured out how to exploit these natural cues through shortcuts of persuasion.

There are six shortcuts of persuasion.


The rule for reciprocation says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.

You will often be given something, a mint, a free sample, a fortune cookie, a flower at the airport… and studies show we are much more likely to respond in kind, in whatever way we can, when, as according to plan, the opportunity presents itself.


The rule of consistency says that once a stand has been taken, we act in ways to justify our earlier decision.

A study was done where they called people and asked if they considered themselves charitable. Most said yes. A few days later they asked those same people if they would help with an actual event and so many said yes, there was a 700% increase in the amount of usual participants.

They try to make you take a small stand and once you let them get their foot in the door, they’re in.

Social proof

One means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct, especially when it comes to behavior.

If we see a crowd of people looking up, we will also look up.

We laugh longer and rate things as funnier if we hear canned laughter, we hear “fasted growing” or “largest selling” and we want in too, and we add to the basket if it’s already got some money in it.


“We prefer to say yes to the request of someone we know and like.”

We like people who are physically attractive, who are similar to us, and who compliment us.

Many sales people are trained to look for cues they could say they’re similar on. If they see golf bags they mention they hope the weather is nice later for a round or if they see out of state tags they say, oh my wife was born there – complimenting us all the while.


We trust expertise and we comply with authority.

Titles and garb are quick indicators that we are in good hands.

If your doctor came in with a tank top you would take them far less seriously than if they had on their doctor’s outfit, brandishing their diploma behind them.

Bu phony titles and impostors can leave us with a false confidence in them.


If it’s in limited supply and others want it, we want it.

Four leaf clovers, restricted love and restricted information, and limited supply being bought up quickly leaves us asking, what am I missing, what am I about to miss out on!? Quick, before it’s too late!

Reciprocation, consistency, social-proof, liking, authority, and scarcity – these are all smart ways for our minds to automatically cut down on the amount of work required in decision making. Once we see the dance, we open our mouths, knowing soon we’ll feel that fresh sensation of a clean mouth.

Most of the time these cues come up naturally as ways to help us make good decisions, but there others who know the dance who are just looking for a meal that don’t care whether we have a clean mouth after or not.

The next part is about how to tell the two dances apart and refuse the blenny.

3. How to say no

Not every time one of these shortcuts is used is an instance of manipulation; these are long-standing cues for good decisions for a reason.

But you should keep an eye out for bad actors, apart from watching for the particular shortcuts you’ve just learned and a having general vigilance, it will be useful to know how to say no to each tactic.

If you see a reciprocation gambit on the way, you must first check if it is a gift, or a sales device.

If it is a sales device there are a couple different tacks to the refusal.

Method 1. Thanks for the sales device and move on not letting it influence you further.

Method 2. Sometimes more drastic measures are necessary if they don’t accept your refusal.

Consistency. Be careful to agreeing with trivial requests, it can increase compliance down the line. Leonardo Da Vinci says, “It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

Social proof. If you sense bad social proof, disconnect from autopilot. If you’re unsure how to behave, act how others are acting until you get a weird feeling… At that point ask them why they are acting that way to check for good reasons or bad reasons.

Liking. Be careful to disassociate. They may be using methods to make you like them, or they may just be likable – either way, remember that your liking them doesn’t change what you’re buying.

Authority. Watch for phony titles and ask two questions.

- Is this authority truly an expert? Are their credentials relevant to the topic at hand.

- How truthful can we expect them to be here? What’s their motive and are they willing to be a little self-deprecating?

Scarcity. Scarcity hinders our ability to think, excites us. Use this as an indicator that we should be cautious. Remember that we want this to use it, not just to have it, and come from that perspective.

All combined you should become a machine of good decision-making, knowing when to trust your instincts and when to question them, joining the ranks of the wisest and most intentional decision-makers there ever were!


To recap this time, we’ll just see all the principles in action in one sitting.

This was a deal for a bunch of video editing stuff.

Scarcity – this deal will run out in 7 hours, the name of it is the 5-day deal!

Authority – Handpicked the best video leaders… top experts

Reciprocity – It’s giving us all kinds of deals, they’re practically giving it away to me – and they extended the time…

Liking – as video creators, we are evolutionary anomalies. An evolutionary anomaly, I’d take that as a compliment… plus look at all the charity work, how many meals donated… I like them

Consistency – “you’ve made it this far right? You must care about your craft.” – you were gonna buy the $89 bundle… why not go pro for just $39 more???... and "Video creators like you."

Social proof - *testimonials* and “Over 50% of Video customers buy the complete bundle.” Look how many fans…

This is something that I almost purchased – but I was reading this book at the same time and realized I didn’t need it.

This book can be read in two different ways, as a way to protect yourself from manipulative sales methods or as a way to use the techniques of sales. For the second way, he strongly pushes the ethical approach, often making the case it’s the only good long-term strategy anyway.

There were so many studies and surprising facts and differences in compliance with only small changes… there was a lot I couldn’t include from this book. As well as the power of because, of contrast, and of concessions…

This book is well-worth it – and was actually sent to me to review by the influence team and by the authors wife, who loved our review on another of Robert Cialdini’s books: Presuasion.

Go get the book yourself and become a master of ethical persuasion and decision-making! Links below.

Thank you for watching!

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