Summary: Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini

Dr. Cialdini is the writer who brought the influence to the mass market with his first book Influence. Towards the end of 2016 he then later published a new book: Pre-suasion. He intended to extend and build upon his previous work. Overall the book was quite fast to read, full of examples and stories that made the ideas memorable. It is well written.

Lesson 1: You can lead the answers with your questions

For example, if I ask you: “Given the recent terrorist attacks in London, how dangerous do you perceive the threat of terrorism to be?” the question is clearly leading the answer. It’s the same with “Are you happy?” vs “Are you unhappy?”. The raw question is the same, but the last one persuades to look for dissatisfaction moments whereas the former one incentivises the search for happiness times.

Lesson 2: Whatever grabs our attention, we think is relevant

You cannot change people’s minds with facts and logic. People do not change their minds. But in general you can choose what to make relevant. You can choose what people pays attention and therefore considers important. During elections if media speaks about terrorism, security is going to be a relevant topic for the campaign.

Lesson 3: The choice of words matter

After reading a text about old people the readers walked slower than in the control group. The same effect but beneficial for us can be used if we get to use words that the reader links with positive feelings.

Lesson 4: Attention tunnels

If you funnel a person into answering certain things, then they will have a harder time backing off. For example, if you want someone to help you, ask them first if they are helpful people. Almost everyone will say yes, and when you ask to fill the questionnaire they will have difficulties in rejecting your offer.

Lesson 5: People only pay attention to Sex, Violence, and novelty

Sex (or a beautiful person in the ad) is good to sell products to be prettier or find a mate. If you want to sell coffee may not be as useful. One of the deepest instincts is survival. Therefore violence or danger are attention grabbers. If you tell about the *dangers* of smoking, chances are that people will quit (as it happened in the 50s). Humans are explorers by nature. We’re wired to find patterns, so if something changes our brain has to figure out what went different and the effects it will have for us.

Lesson 6: Keep people’s attention by making it about them

After grabbing someone’s attention you should retain it. To do so, make it about them. Not “they”, or “people”.

Lesson 7: Unfinished tasks are remembered

If you have a pending task you’ll be likely to remember. People desire closure. Once done people forget about it. An unfinished story or mystery will keep people captivated until the end.

Lesson 8: Mental associations

No thought exists on its own, all ideas are linked together. New associations can be created even when people are totally unaware of them. Also use the right wording for it. Maybe instead of business targets would be better business goals.

Lesson 9: Build trust

If you behave as if the other people already trusted you they will. And if people trust you then you already have a huge advantage.

Lesson 10: Unity

People should feel they have something in common with you, they should think that you’re part of the same unit. Unity is about shared groups, identities, and world views. To create unity you can move together (e.g. dance).

In the end this could be summarised as try to live an optimistic life and try to find the bright side always. Be confident that people are good and be genuinely curious about them.

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