Have trouble getting people on board? Don't know what to do next?

Man and Woman In an office setting giving each other a high-five and smiling.

Convincing people of your ideas isn't easy.

It requires resources and changes to the status quo, so there can be many obstacles until you hear a yes. This is why you must know how to persuade others to get on board with your ideas effectively.

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Decision-making is effortful, so people use shortcuts to guide their behavior. Understanding & employing these shortcuts increases the chances of successfully persuading someone.

So, what are these shortcuts? And how do you positively influence someone?

1. Reciprocity

Reciprocity is the process of exchanging things with other people to gain mutual benefit.

When influencing others, the key is to be the first to give and ensure that what you give is "personalized and unexpected."

Nicole Kidman saying,

There are three main types of reciprocity:

  1. Generalized

  • Involves exchanges with families or friends

  • No expectation of a returned favor

  • Altruistic

  1. Balanced

  • Involves a calculation of the value of the exchange

  • Expectation the favor will be returned within a specified time frame

  1. Negative

  • One party involved in the exchange wants more than the other

Balanced reciprocity is what you should aim for when seeking to influence someone.


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You're a salesman showing a customer a phone, and the customer is unsure about the price.

So you add a case at no additional charge. This can cause them to feel like you're doing them a favor, which might make them feel obligated to buy the phone.

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You work at a restaurant, and it's very busy but you did your best to make the customers feel like they were accommodated well. You served the food a bit late...

But you made up for it by offering a free dessert. This may make them want to give a tip or become a regular customer.

2. Scarcity

People are more interested in things that are difficult to obtain or might run out. Anything in short supply will be highly prized.

If you possess and can control a resource that nobody else has, then your ability to influence will be greatly enhanced.

The video below explains how scarcity persuades people.

Persuasive communication techniques you can use with the scarcity principle:

  • Don't simply tell people the benefits of your product/service

  • Inform people of the uniqueness of your proposition

  • Inform people what they will lose without your service/product

Humans are generally more motivated by fear of loss than want of gain.

— W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

3. Authority

People follow the lead of credible experts. People trust experts.

Signal to others what makes you credible and knowledgeable before influencing them.

Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank,saying,

Don't tell people you're brilliant, arrange for someone to do it for you.

Research notes, "It doesn't matter if the person introducing you is connected to you and is likely to prosper from the introduction either."

Use these persuasive communication techniques with the authority principle:

  • Position yourself as an expert

  • Wear badges of authority

  • Mention awards

  • Apply for awards

Tip: Don't assume others understand your expertise or know about your accomplishments.


Mary is a dentist.

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Mary wears her lab coat and her badge when meeting with patients. She displays her medical diplomas on the walls. Because of this, she is better able to persuade more of her patients to comply with cleanliness practices.

Joe is a salesman.

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Joe was able to increase sales and the subsequent number of accounts received by arranging for receptionists who answered customer inquiries to mention his credentials and expertise.

4. Consistency

People like to be consistent with what they have previously said or done. People align commitment with their self-image.

The video below explains how to persuade someone using the consistency principle.

Once someone publicly commits to something, they will follow through.

Persuasive communication techniques to use with the consistency principle:

  • Seek out their commitments or beliefs

  • Craft proposals aligned with their values


Jamal's 30-Day Fitness Challenge

Flaticon Icon Jamal, a TikTok fitness influencer, is brainstorming ways to motivate his followers to adopt healthier habits. He launches a 30-day fitness challenge, inviting followers to join him in daily workouts.

Throughout the challenge, Jamal engages with participants, offering support and sharing success stories. His consistent posts showcase progress and motivate participation.

He introduces new exercises and incentives to maintain momentum. The growing sense of achievement drives participants to stay committed. On the last day, Jamal celebrates the group's accomplishments.

Jamal continues to inspire with ongoing fitness tips. Through the challenge, Jamal demonstrated consistency and his followers were more likely to follow his advice.


Why do toy manufacturers create a "hot" toy for the holiday season, and then deliberately not supply the stores with enough product?

5. Liking

People like people who like them.

People prefer to say "yes" to those they like and are more likely to be persuaded by them — as explained in the video below.

What causes one person to like another?

There are 3 important factors to bear in mind:

  1. We like people who are similar to us.

  2. We like people who pay us compliments.

  3. We like people who cooperate with us towards achieving mutual goals.

Cialdini lists five elements behind liking:

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Physical Attractiveness

Good looks imply other positive traits: trustworthiness, honesty, humor, and reliability.

  • Dress well

  • Maintain a clean office/meeting space

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We like people who are similar to us.

  • Get to know your stakeholders

  • Analyze stakeholders' interests

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Everyone appreciates a compliment. Compliments include praise for a job well done, eliciting a positive reaction in us.

  • Say something sincere

  • Encourage positive statements in meetings

  • Use praise publically and unexpectedly

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Working together towards a goal helps us feel more connected and positive toward our teammates.

  • Establish goals

  • Develop strong relationships with stakeholders

  • Communicate & consult regularly

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Conditioning & Association

The association between something you already like and another item causes you to feel more positive towards the new item.

  • Associate the desired behavior with a positive trend

  • Reward & acknowledge your stakeholders

To harness this powerful principle of liking, look for areas of similarity and give genuine compliments.

6. Consensus

People will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. This is called social proof: they need to see other people doing something before they do it themselves.

The video below explains how consensus persuades people.

Rather than relying on your ability to persuade others, you can point to what others are already doing. People will feel more comfortable complying.


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If a restaurant is always packed with people, you'll also go.

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If your coworkers work late, you'll also work late.


A new social media app was just released. What social proof will convince people to use it? Select all that apply:

Take Action

Implementing these principles for small, practical changes facilitates persuasion and fosters stronger engagement with your ideas.

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