I recently read “Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence and Persuade” by Robert Cialdini. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, click here to buy the book.
“The best persuaders become the best through pre-suasion – the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.” (4)
“What we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.” (4)
“In deciding whether a possibility is correct, people typically look for hits rather than misses; for confirmations of the idea rather than for disconfirmations. It is easier to register the presence of something than its absence.” (22)
“Half were stopped and asked if they wanted to provide their addresses for this purpose. Most were reluctant – only 33 percent volunteered their contact information. THe other subjects were asked initially, “Do you consider yourself to be somebody who is adventurous and likes to try new things?” Almost all said yes, following which, 75.7 percent gave their email addresses.” (26)
“The guiding factor in a decision is often not the one that counsels most wisely; it’s one that has recently been brought to mind.” (28)
“While timing his reintroduction of the crucial insight to coincide with the worst of the noise, he would lower his voice. To hear what Erickson was saying, patients had to lean forward, into the information – an embodied signal of focused attention and intense interest.” (30)
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” (33)
“The central tenet of agenda-setting theory is that the media rarely produce change directly, by presenting compelling evidence that sweeps an audience to new positions; they are much more likely to persuade indirectly, by giving selected issues and facts better coverage than other issues and facts.” (34)
“As the political scientist Bernard Cohen wrote, “The press may not be successful most of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling them what to think about.” (34)
“We can be brought to the mistaken belief that something is important merely because we have been led by
Some irrelevant factor to give it our narrowed attention.” (35)
“While reading an online article about education, repeated exposure to a banner ad for a new brand of camera made the readers significantly more favorable to the ad when they were show it again later… Further, the more often the ad had appeared while they were reading the article, the more they came to like it.” (39-40)
“Classrooms with heavily decorated walls displaying lots of posters, maps, and artwork reduce the test scores of young children learning science material there. It is clear that background information can both guide and distract focus of attention; anyone seeking to influence optimally must manage that information thoughtfully.” (41)
“When you have a good case to make, you can employ – as openers – simply self-relevant cues (such as the word you) to predispose your audience toward a full consideration of that strong case before they see or hear it.” (84)
“Whether you offer your statement just before or after his, according to the next-in-line effect, Alex will have a hard time processing your solution, no matter how good it is. If your statement comes immediately prior to Alex’s, he’ll likely miss the specifics because he’ll be mentally rehearsing what he plans to say. If it comes immediately following Alex’s, he’ll likely miss those specifics because he’ll be internally rehashing what he just said.” (85)
“Unfinished tasks are the more memorable, hoarding attention so they can be performed and dispatched successfully.” (86)
“The greatest recall occurred for details of ads that the researchers stopped five to six seconds before their natural endings.” (88)
“When an important outcome is unknown to people, “they can hardly think of anything else.” And because, as we know, regular attention to something makes it seem more worthy of attention, the women’s repeated refocusing on those guys made them appear the most attractive.” (88)
“She never lets herself finish a writing session at the end of a paragraph or even a thought. She assured me she knows precisely what she wants to say at the end of that last paragraph or thought; she just doesn’t allow herself to say it until the next time. Brilliant! By keeping the final feature of every writing session near-finished, she uses the motivating force of the drive for closure to get her back to her chair quickly, impatient to write again.” (89)
“When presented properly, mysteries are so compelling that the reader can’t remain an aloof outside observer of story structure and elements. In the throes of this particular literary device, one is not thinking of literary devices; one’s attention is magnetized to the mystery story because of its inherent, unresolved nature.” (91)
“One of the best ways to enhance audience acceptance of one’s message is to reduce the availability of strong counterarguments to it – because counterarguments are typically more powerful than arguments.” (95)
“We convince others by using language that manages their mental associations to our message. Their thoughts, perceptions, and emotional reactions merely proceed from those associations.” (100)
“Multiple studies have shown that subtly exposing individuals to words that connote achievement (win, attain, succeed, master) increases their performance on an assigned task and more than doubles their willingness to keep working at it.” (103)
“The concept pre-loaded with associations most damaging to immediate assessments and future dealings is untrustworthiness, along with its concomitants, such as lying and cheating.” (110)
“Anything that is self-connected gets an immediate lift in our eyes. Sometimes the connections can be trivial but can still serve as springboards to persuasive success.” (110)
“When we grasp something fluently – that is, we can picture or process it quickly and effortlessly – we not only like that thing more but also think it is more valid and worthwhile.” (112)
“Within the domain of general attraction, observers have a greater liking for those who facial features are easy to recognize and whose names are easy to pronounce. Tellingly, when people can process something with cognitive ease, they experience increased neuronal activity in the muscles of their face that produce a smile. On the flip side, if it’s difficult to process something, observers tend to dislike that experience and, accordingly, that thing.” (113)
“An analysis of the names of five hundred attorneys at ten US law firms found that the harder an attorney’s name was to pronounce, the lower he or she stayed in the firm’s hierarchy.” (113)
“Background cues in one’s physical environment can guide how one thinks there.” (119)
“Steps people can take to make their lives better, emotionally – according to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky:
Count your blessings and gratitudes at the start of every day, and then give yourself concentrated time with them by writing them down.
Cultivate optimism by choosing beforehand to look on the bright side of situations, events, and future possibilities.
Negate the negative by deliberately limiting time spent dwelling on problems or on unhealthy comparisons with others.” (125)
“The basic idea of pre-suasion is that by guiding preliminary attention strategically, it’s possible for a communicator to move recipients into agreement with a message before they experience it.” (132)
“If/when-then plans are superior to simple intention statements or action plans such as “I intend to lose five pounds this month…” The “if/when-then” wording is designed to put us on high alert for a particular time or circumstance when a productive action could be performed. We become prepared, first, to notice the favorable time or circumstance and, second, to associate it automatically and directly with the desired result… Chronically unsuccessful dieters eat fewer high-calorie foods and lose more weight after forming if/when-then plans such as “If/when I see chocolate displayed in the supermarket, then I will think of my diet.”” (139-141)
“If we want them to buy a box of expensive chocolates, we can first arrange for them to write down a number that’s much larger than the price of the chocolates.
If we want them to choose a bottle of French wine, we can expose them to French background music before they decide.
If we want them to agree to try an untested product, we can first inquire whether they consider themselves adventurous.
If we want to convince them to select a highly popular item, we can begin by showing them a scary movie.
If we want them to feel warmly toward us, we can hand them a hot drink.
If we want them to be more helpful to us, we can have them look at photos of individuals standing close together.
If we want them to be more achievement oriented, we can provide them with an image of a runner winning a race.
If we want them to make careful assessments, we can show them a picture of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.” (151)
“What we give first should be experienced as meaningful, unexpected, and customized.” (155)
“I heard an assertion made repeatedly with great confidence: “The number one rule for salespeople is to get your customer to like you.” That was the case, we trainees were assured, because people say yes to those they like – something that was so undeniable that it never seemed interesting to me. What did interest me, though, was what we were told to do to arrange for customers to like us. Being friendly, attractive, and humorous were mentioned frequently in this regard. Accordingly, we were often given smiling lessons, grooming tips, and jokes to tell. But by far, two specific ways to create positive feelings got the most attention. We were instructed to highlight similarities and provide compliments.” (158)
“Compliments nourish and sustain us emotionally. They also cause us to like and benefit those who provide them; and this is true whether the praise is for our appearance, taste, personality, work habits, or intelligence.” (159)
“Similarities and compliments cause people to feel that you like them, and once they come to recognize that you like them, they’ll want to do business with you. That’s because people trust that those who like them will try to steer them correctly. So by my lights, the number one rule for salespeople is to show customers that you genuinely like them.” (160)
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (160)
“When we see evidence of the increased frequency of an action, it elevates our judgements of the act’s moral correctness.” (161)
“A great strength of social-proof information is that it destroys the problem of uncertain achievability. If people learn that many others like them are conserving energy, there is little doubt as to its feasibility. It comes to seem realistic and, therefore, implementable.” (163-164)
“A communicator who references a weakness early on is immediately seen as more honest.” (165)
“The weakness-before-strength tactic works best when the strength doesn’t just add something positive to the list of pros and cons but, instead, challenges the relevance of the weakness.” (167)
“Any constraint on access increased the worth of what was being offered.” (168)
“If one romantic partner agrees to pray for the other’s well-being every day for an extended period of time, he or she becomes less likely to be unfaithful while doing so.” (169)
“Organizations can raise the probability that an individual will appear at a meeting or event by switching from saying at the end of a reminder phone call, “We’ll mark you on the list as coming then. Thank you!” to “We’ll mark you on the list as coming then, okay? [Pause for confirmation.] Thank you.”” (169)
“The stage of one’s relationship with them affects which influence principles to best employ.
At the first stage, the main goal involves cultivating a positive association, as people are more favorable to a communication if they are favorable to the communicator. Two principles of influence, reciprocity and liking, seem particularly appropriate to the task. Giving first (in a meaningful, unexpected, and customized fashion), highlighting genuine commonalities, and offering true compliments establish mutual rapport that facilitates all future dealings.
At the second stage, reducing uncertainty becomes a priority. A positive relationship with a communicator doesn’t ensure persuasive success. Before people are likely to change, they want to see any decision as wise. Under these circumstances, the principles of social proof and authority offer the best match. Pointing to evidence that a choice is well regarded by peers or experts significantly increases confidence in its wisdom. But even with a positive association cultivated and uncertainty reduced, a remaining step needs to be taken.
A this third stage, motivating action is the main objective. That is, a well-liked friend might show me sufficient proof that experts recommend (and almost all my peers believe) that daily exercise is a good thing, but that might not be enough to get me to do it. The friend would do well to include in his appeal the principles of consistency and scarcity by reminding me of what I’ve said publicly in the past about the importance of my health and the unique enjoyments I would miss if I lost it. That’s the message that would most likely get me up in the morning and off to the gym.” (171)
“The relationships that lead people to favor another most effectively are not those that allow them to say, “Oh, that person is like us.” They are the ones that allow people to say, “Oh, that person is of us.”” (175)
“Acting together – in motoric, vocal, or sensory ways – can serve as a surrogate for being together in a kinship unit.” (194)
“The help wasn’t rooted in rationality at all. It was spontaneous, intuitive, and based on an emotional sense of connection that naturally accompanies shared musical engagement.” (198)
“Recipients with nonrational, hedonistic goals should be matched with messages containing nonrational elements such as musical accompaniment, whereas those with rational, pragmatic goals should be matched with messages containing rational elements such as facts.” (200)
“Managers led to believe that they’d had a large role in developing the end product rated the ad 50 percent more favorably than did managers led to believe they’d had little developmental involvement – even though the final ad they saw was identical in all cases.” (204)
“The more the managers attributed the success of the project to themselves, the more they also attributed it to the ability of their employee.” (204)
“Providing advice puts a person in a merging state of mind, which stimulates a linking of one’s own identity with another party’s. Providing an opinion or expectation, on the other hand, puts a person in an introspective state of mind, which involves focusing on oneself.” (206)
“Background exposure to the American flag put participants in mind of Republican Party thinking; indeed, a pilot study done by the researchers showed that, in 2008 anyway, Americans reliably made that link between the flag and Republicanism.” (226)
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