Influence and Manipulation : The 6 Greatest Persuasion Techniques

by Ezeneck
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Many times we feel that we have been tricked in fairly simple circumstances, yet we are unable to understand what happened. In his book “Influence and Manipulation”, Robert Cialdini presents the main mechanisms of persuasion. Thanks to him, you will now be able to identify them, protect yourself against them and eventually play them.


This principle is embedded in us as a basic principle. It creates an ‘obligation’, a debt to the person who has done us a favour or offered us something, whether we asked for it or not.

  • Price mechanics: we tend to associate high price with quality. Thus, sometimes, putting a low price will not motivate sales since we will think that the product is of poor quality, whereas giving a high price to the same product will increase sales by giving an impression of quality
  • Giving a reason: asking for a service by giving a reason, whatever it may be, promotes acceptance
  • Principle of human perception: “warmth feels warmer after being in the cold”. This principle is based on this idea and is used in particular to increase acceptance of ideas. By starting with an idea that will obviously be rejected, one can more easily fall back on one’s basic idea which, by comparison, will seem more reasonable, thus increasing its chances of being accepted.


This principle is embedded in us as a basic principle. It creates an ‘obligation’, a debt to the person who has done us a favour or offered us something, whether we asked for it or not.

  • Strength of the rule: the rule of reciprocity sometimes overcomes the influence of other factors that normally determine our consent
  • Forced debts: gratitude is an unpleasant feeling – but an individual who violates the rule by accepting a gift without trying to reciprocate is frowned upon
  • Unfair exchanges: in return for a small gesture, this principle encourages us to accept much greater demands in return
  • Reciprocal concessions: this consists of asking for a first thing in the knowledge that it will be refused, only to fall back on what is really desired in the knowledge that the other person will not dare say no to the pseudo-concession that has just been made. We therefore find ourselves accepting what seems to us to be ‘the lesser evil’ when we would have said no if it had been proposed to us first.

How to say no?
We need to be discerning in order to differentiate between pure generosity and gestures intended to manipulate us.


“It is easier to resist first than later” Leonardo da Vinci

Once we have made a decision, we are subjected to internal and external pressures and do everything to justify it. We lie to ourselves to keep our opinions and feelings in line with what we have already chosen to do. Sometimes we place consistency above sound judgement.

  • Strength of character: coherence is associated with intelligence and strength of character. However, sometimes it is a form of mental laziness, or even a fear of what we might discover if we ask the right questions.
  • Public commitment = lasting commitment: any commitment creates a principle in us that we must stand by what we have said, even if we have said it in particular circumstances.

How do you say no?
You have to listen to your instincts and know how to question yourself by really asking yourself why you choose to act in a certain way.


“When everyone thinks alike, no one really thinks” Walter Lippman

We are influenced by the behaviour of the people around us. Not only those close to us, but also and especially strangers, unconsciously. When we are not in control of a situation, we tend to unconsciously look for the answer in the behaviour of others and copy it.

How do we say no?
We have to make sure that we remain vigilant through our own discernment.


“A lawyer’s job is essentially to make his client sympathetic to the jury” Clarence Darrow

It is difficult to refuse a service or request from a friend or neighbour. Sales professionals are not necessarily our friends, so they will try to make us like them.

Several criteria come into play in order for us to find a person sympathetic

  • Physical appearance: we associate qualities such as intelligence, talent, kindness and honesty with people who look good
  • Similarity: since most people are neither really beautiful nor really ugly, we value what we look like
  • Compliments: the idea that someone likes us is nice and obviously makes them more likeable in our eyes. This is why people who want something often use flattery.
  • Contact and cooperation: these elements develop our likeability by creating habit and making us work together
  • Conditioning and association: gaining sympathy can also be done by associating with what the target person likes

How can we say no?
If we are too quickly taken with someone who is trying to persuade us, they are probably using this manipulative technique.


We find it very difficult to stand up to authority and tend to defer to it. This mechanism is used particularly in the field of sales. For example, a company that wants to sell toothpaste would be well advised to use the support of dentists, who are authorities in their field. Their endorsement makes us more likely to buy. This also applies to elements with authority connotations:

  • Titles: these are the most difficult symbols of authority to acquire
  • Clothes: people wearing costumes of authority
  • Accessories: they can give us an image of authority

How to resist it?
Systematically ask yourself whether the authority in question is really competent and objective.


Professional persuaders know that we value what is rare. Therefore, opportunities are more interesting to us if they are exceptional. Convincing people that something is rare increases its value.

  • Psychological reactance: the less accessible something is, the more we desire it
  • Optimal conditions: we desire more when we move from a situation of abundance to one of scarcity

How to say no?
When the situation demands an immediate reaction, it is very difficult for us to act with discernment since we are caught up in an emotional reaction. To say no, we need to really ask ourselves what we want through the object of our desire. We have to make sure that we don’t want it just “to have it”.

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