The Psychology of Persuasion: How to Influence Others and Get What You Want

From negotiating an important business deal to negotiating a higher salary, negotiation is a skill that you will use throughout your professional career. So, how can you ensure that your ideas are heard and acted upon by others? The answer lies in the power of persuasion. Persuasion refers to one’s ability to get others to see things from their point of view, and it’s a skill that makes all the difference when it comes to negotiating. Understanding how persuasion works can help you navigate negotiations by influencing the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of others. Here we will explore the psychology of persuasion and how it can be applied to negotiation. 

Understanding the Laws of Persuasion

Persuasion is one’s ability to influence the thoughts and behaviors of others through specific strategies. To master this skill, it is necessary to first understand the Laws of Persuasion. Psychologist Robert Cialdini identified six key principles that influence human behavior. These principles include reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Each of these influence human behavior and shape how people respond to persuasive attempts. These laws of persuasion can be leveraged to influence behavior during negotiations. 

1. Reciprocity

Reciprocity is the idea that people feel obligated to repay others for what they have received. In negotiation, this principle can be applied by offering concessions or favors for the other party in hopes that they will feel a sense of indebtedness to you. This may lead to a more favorable outcome for you.

2. Commitment and Consistency

This principle suggests that people feel a desire to be consistent with their past actions and behaviors. If you can get the other party to agree to small commitments early on in the negotiation, it is more likely that they will continue to commit as the negotiation progresses. 

3. Social Proof

Social proof refers to people’s need to look to others for guidance on how to behave. This is most evident in today’s world through social media “influencers.” When someone of status approves something, others feel the need to act similarly. By highlighting the approval of others during a negotiation, negotiators can influence the decision-making process of the other party.

4. Authority

Authority is a principle that suggests that people are more likely to comply with those they see as experts or figures of authority. In negotiations, establishing credibility can enhance your arguments and leverage your ability to persuade the other party.

5. Liking

Simply put, people are more likely to be persuaded by those they like, know, and trust. Negotiators should work to establish common ground and develop a rapport with the other party to increase the likelihood that they work with you to reach a more favorable conclusion.

6. Scarcity

Scarcity is a principle of economics that suggests people are motivated by fear of missing out. This is evident in retail with phrases such as “Hurry while supplies last,” or “This sale ends in just two days!” This can be used in negotiations by emphasizing the scarcity of certain resources or benefits. In turn, this creates a sense of urgency and can drive the other party to take actions or make agreements.