Anant Jain

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Book Review

Influence is a fun practical book that is valuable right from the first page. While this book officially lies in the territory of psychological manipulation, I believe it’s still important to read these books for two reasons: to guard yourself better from getting influenced by scrupulous manipulators, as well as, of course, to use these methods for good. If you build products for others, and think what you make genuinely makes your users’ lives better, you will still have to influence them to try your product for the first time. I’ll try to keep this one short. Here are the six methods of influencing others:


The old give and take (and take and take). We are wired to reciprocate — so be the first one to give, and make sure it’s personalized and unexpected. The most non-intuitive method of reciprocation I found in this chapter was giving a concession. You can ask for something more than what you want, and then concede back to what you actually wanted. The other person will try to reciprocate your concession by accepting your terms. So, you get exactly what you wanted, while making the other person feel good about it. 🤯

Commitment and Consistency

People try to stick to their commitments, and try to stay consistent with the stories they have written for themselves in the past. Ask for small initial commitments that can be made, and then later ask for consistent, but bigger commitments. First ask someone to sign a pledge that they are a water conservationist, and then, two weeks later ask them to donate to the cause. Make sure to make these initial commitments small, voluntary, public, and preferably done in writing.

Social Proof

We are primates copying others. If others have done something, so it must be worth doing. X, Y and Z others like this. A, B & C companies bought this. 14k clapped for this. It’s very hard to be the first one to clap 👏


Or the Halo Effect. What makes us like other people? People who are similar to us, people who compliment us, and people who cooperate with us to achieve mutual goals. Look for areas of similarity with the other party, establish a common ground, compliment them genuinely and then get down to negotiating.


People want to follow credible, knowledgable experts, and titles are a good way to influence others. This is why physiotherapists display their medical diplomas on the walls, and why more people are willing to follow a well-dressed stranger into jaywalking a stop signal. Have you ever seen a book cover with the author’s educational qualifications on it? Influence sure does: Robert B. Cialdini, Ph. D.


People want more of something that they can have less of. Just go check your inbox’s spam section, and count the number of exploding offers from every retailer you may have heard of — all to create a scarcity to influence you into action today.

This is #6 in a series of book reviews published weekly on this site.

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash