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122 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless
I have been entertaining my friends at dinner parties with this book. Cialdini, who admits to being a bit of a sucker himself, shows all the ways we've been manipulated over the years by small gestures and situations contrived by salesmen.

There are so many good stories. The one about Joe Girard, a car salesman who sends out each month 13,000 cards every month...
Published on 28 Oct. 2007 by William Cohen

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, not worth 5 stars
Really good interesting book,there is a lot of rambling however for me, its not useless information but it's a bit excessive and doesn't really enhance your knowledge on the concepts in the book.

Key question. Will this make you a person who can influence people more effectively ? I'm not so sure, I guess if you took the time to really work some of the ideas...
Published 17 months ago by Nathan P


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122 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless, 28 Oct. 2007
By 
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
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I have been entertaining my friends at dinner parties with this book. Cialdini, who admits to being a bit of a sucker himself, shows all the ways we've been manipulated over the years by small gestures and situations contrived by salesmen.

There are so many good stories. The one about Joe Girard, a car salesman who sends out each month 13,000 cards every month to former customers with a card saying, "I like you". Surely people wouldn't fall for that? Yes they do, he made more than $200,000 a year selling cars. He's in the Guinness Book of Records.

There's the story of how the Chinese got the American prisoners in the Korean War to betray their country by setting them essay questions. There's accounts of the trouble we can get into when we insist on being consistent or make a vague commitment to supporting a cause.

Cialdini exposes loads of sales techniques and has some fascinating insights into what motivates us.

As a self-employed person I'm really grateful for this knowledge. This is a book that everyone should read.
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160 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for the Intelligent Consumer, 28 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
The human mind is a wonderful thing, capable of the most wonderful thought processes and ideas. Yet the brain is on automatic pilot for most situations. That allows the conscious mind to really focus. The drawback is that some people will use our conscious inattention to sneak one by us, like a fastball pitch to a hitter looking for a change-up.
Influence, the book, is very useful in this regard, because it uses interesting examples to help us be aware of our own tendency to let automatic pilot thinking take over.
Since I first read this book many years ago, I have been watching to see if the circumstances I see support or invalidate Professor Cialdini's points. By a margin of about 9 to 1, Cialdini wins.
Given that we are easily manipulated by our desire to be and to appear to be consistent with our past actions and statements, swayed by what the crowd is doing, and various other mechanisms, the only way we can be armed against unscrupulous marketing is to be as aware of these factors are the marketers are.
At the same time, I appreciated how the book explores the ethics of when and how much to apply these principles. Without this discussion, the book would come off like Machiavelli's, The Prince, for marketing organizations. That would have been a shame. By dealing with the ethics, Professor Cialdini creates the opportunity to educate us intellectually and morally. Well done!
I have read literally dozens of books about marketing and selling, and I find this one to be the most helpful in thinking about how influence actually works. Even if you will never work in marketing, you will benefit from reading this book in order to better focus your purchases and actions where they fit your needs rather than someone else's.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book! A book you will keep going back to again and again. Worth more than 5 Stars., 2 May 2007
By 
J. George "Break Up Specialist" (here, there and everywhere) - See all my reviews
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I've just finished this book. Wow it was mind blowing!

I'm not going to reiterate all the brilliant reviews made about this book, suffice to say it is a useful guide for going into negotiations and other situations were undue and unfair influence might occur. For example, how to deal with dirty influence tricks or even just pushy salesmen, estate agents or recruitment consultants - you can see the tatics that are being used and side step them or use their tricks against them for your own advantage.

An amazing book. Read it for your own sake.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, not worth 5 stars, 6 Dec. 2013
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Really good interesting book,there is a lot of rambling however for me, its not useless information but it's a bit excessive and doesn't really enhance your knowledge on the concepts in the book.

Key question. Will this make you a person who can influence people more effectively ? I'm not so sure, I guess if you took the time to really work some of the ideas into you everyday life then maybe. You will definitely have to WORK at it and think really hard as to how you can use the ideas because its not like a step to step guide, its more like a diary of his findings.

This book will make you more aware of things that influence situations however as in how to actually use them to benefit yourself not so much.

All in all good book. Could be condensed, longer than it needs to be.
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invest in Influence, 6 Jun. 2005
By 
Dilraj Sidhu "D. Sidhu-Singh" (London,England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first read an excerpt of Dr Cialdini's book in a Harvard Business Review article and it was one of the few times I actually bought the book on the same day. The six universal principles of influence and persuasion are superb in their brevity and ability to work in a wide variety of situations. With Dr Cialdini backing up his writings with 50 years of social science research (not to mention his own 3 year investment of time to learn the trade secrets of many organisations, both private sector and public sector) it makes learning and using the principles of persuasion systematic and not dependant on being 'a born sales person or natural influencer'. A fantastic read with plenty of anecdotes (backed up by research) and uses. If you buy one book on the subject of Influence and Persuasion - make it this one!. Also, for reader's interest the book has been translated into a two-day workshop on how to best utilise the 6 principles of influence and persuasion and are run by Dr Cialdini's outfit called Influence At Work - they have a US and UK presence. Good reading!
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123 of 136 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not totally convincing or that useful, 10 Sept. 2007
I bought this book for two reasons - one to make myself more alert to sales techniques, and two to see if there are any useful insights to glean that could be applied to other areas of life.

On both counts the book delivers. Having recently been pitched to at work by a media tracking agency and nearly taken the bait (didn't in the end) I immediately recognised the use of reciprocity and scarcity to try and harry me into signing up. That alone was worth buying the book for, and I will definitely use that insight in future.

In addition, the chapter on consistency is also very useful. I've been involved in trying (and failing) to get people behind certain campaigns in the past. As such the discussion about getting people to make small commitments to establish a self image which they then feel the need to act consistently with both rang true on a personal level, and seems like something worth trying out in future.

So why only three stars? For one I did not find elements of the book convincing. The section dealing with newspaper coverage of suicides is the bit that really troubles me. Some of the data seems both to be limited and have been interpreted quite loosely. I would need a lot more convincing that the stats are being interpreted reasonably, it looks far too rough and ready. Given that this book is really about behavioural biases surely it should be extra careful about interpretaion of data as this is something we humans tend to be very bad at, always looking for patterns that aren't there and so on. That then leads me to query the hypothesis built on top of the data and to be honest I find myself not buying it. That also makes me query whether other chapters suffer from similar flaws.

Secondly, the book isn't actually that useful once you get your head around the key techniques because, as a previous reviewer says, simply having the knowledge that you have biases doesn't make them go away. To be really useful the book should have spent as much time reinforcing ways to resist the influence of biases as it does explaining what they are.

That said it is very readable, and I got what I wanted from it, but it could have been better.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent content somewhat marred by impractical conclusions, 7 July 2007
By 
Andrew Barrett (UK) - See all my reviews
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3rd edition/publication (2007), Collins Business Essentials, 320 pages (of which 280 pages for actual book)

Influence is another of the twenty books Charlie Munger recommends in the second edition of Poor Charlie's Almanack. Its content is excellent (and sometimes even hair-raisingly remarkable - as when he shows that media reporting of suicides actually causes more of them via the social proof bias) but I think Cialdini could have done a much better job of turning the research evidence into useful/practical advice. (The same problem manifests itself in Gilbert's book `Stumbling on Happiness' - though Cialdini's is the better book.)

I was discussing this book with a friend who had also read it and I thought he put it very well: Cialdini is one of those clever people who is not very wise. That is also why Poor Charlie's Almanack is so good and unusual: Munger is both clever and has deliberately attempted to distil a lifetime's worth of reading over a broad subject matter area into practical advice on how to live a successful/useful life.

In particular, Cialdini shows us clearly that a significant number of our psychological biases work completely unconsciously. (By that I mean it can be demonstrated that a certain bias has affected a group of individual's actions/conclusions whilst they strenuously deny they have paid any attention to or are even totally unaware of the biasing factor.) For example, Cialdini quotes one study where "men who saw a new-car ad that included a seductive young woman model rated the car as faster, more appealing, more expensive-looking, and better designed than did men who saw the same ad without the model. Yet when asked later, the men refused to believe that the presence of the young woman had influenced their judgements."

He then goes on to suggest various complicated ways to try to monitor ourselves to see if we are being affected by some of these biases - in order that we can attempt to limit the damage from faulty decisions (often in situations deliberately set up to cause our faulty decisions to be detrimental to us and advantageous to some other). For example, he highlights the "extreme caution" needed in auction situations where one encounters the "devilish construction of scarcity plus rivalry" - and suggests that we watch ourselves for signs of arousal so that we can stop short.

Well, I think Munger and his partner Warren Buffett have a much more practical and simpler way of dealing with that problem, based on the wisdom of the rustic that Munger likes to quote: "all I want to know is where I'm going to die so can avoid going there." The whole thrust of Cialdini's book is that these biases are often unconscious and are in any case often very strong (and usually much stronger that we believe/expect) - which is another way of saying you're unlikely to have good results fighting against them.

Much better to simply bypass the problem where possible and do as Buffett does and refuse to get involved in auction situations. Using rules like this, to paraphrase Munger on a different subject (tax shelters): if you always avoid auction situations you might miss out on the odd good deal, but overall your life is likely to be better.

This is also why I consider Taleb (Fooled by Randomness) to be much wiser than Cialdini: he understands that being aware of biases doesn't make them go away. You need tricks and methods to live successfully with them.

I also think the advice in Cialdini's epilogue is very poor. He suggests that we rise up to fight people/organisations who misuse our psychological biases for their own ends: "In short, we should be willing to use boycott, threat, confrontation, censure, tirade, nearly anything, to retaliate."

This is crazy advice: the effort and time required to do it would leave little for anything else and would also guarantee a miserable life focussed on negativity. It also shows Cialdini's lack of familiarity with good training principles (an excellent book on the subject is Karen Pryor's `Don't Shoot The Dog'). Plenty of research now shows that positive reinforcement (rewarding behaviour you like) is at least as effective as negative reinforcement and much more so than punishment. It also has the huge benefit of leading to a much more pleasant life.

However, even with those caveats (essentially that you have to do your own thinking about how to cope with the biases that Cialdini does an excellent job of laying out) it is still a very useful book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun from start to finish, 9 April 2012
By 
Peasant (Deepest England) - See all my reviews
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If you are looking for a well-written, accessible book on how advertising and other media affect our decision-making, I can strongly recommend the general reader try this one. Cialdini is a professor of Psychology in the USA who feels a strong urge to let us, the general public, get an insight into the way our opinions are manipulated by "compliance professionals". This means not just advertisers and salesmen, but politicians, health experts, religions and many others - all the people whose job it is to persuade us to do what they want.

"Influence" is written with a light touch and plenty of dry wit. Jargon is kept to a minimum but the author doesn't go in for that shallow "self-help book" style which insults the reader's intelligence. Instead, he often opens a subject with a tale told against himself; how falling for a ploy stimulated him to analyse and understand it. His route into the subject is through a common-sense psychology; there are no weird theories.

Cialdini identifies a core of simple, easily recognised behavioural reflexes which evolved to bind social groups together, but which are utilised by those in the know to weasel round our natural resistance. For example, we experience an innate knee-jerk of gratitude when given a present, no matter how small or inappropriate. Cialdini shows us how salemen take advantage of this to nudge us towards a sale; but also identifies the way we soon see the trick, and experience a secondary reflex of resentment and irritation. He shows the reader how to separate and understand these responses, avoiding both the con and the unpleasant feelings of anger that contaminate our reaction. This is all told with humour and humanity - and without unnecessary theorising.

Though this book will undoubtedly be useful to businessmen, it's aimed at the punter, and if you are one it will change your life for the better. It will help you resist manipulation and even to have an ironic laugh at the efforts expended by others. You'll enjoy the read and probably, like me, find yourself recommending it to everyone you know. An ideal present especially for a younger reader, but a fruitful book at any age.
:-{]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 9 Feb. 2009
This book is not only a great read, its also filled with great stories which demonstrate the points being made very well. This is a must for any one for whom influence is a factor in working or private life, which is just about every one. The chapter on on liking alone was worth the price of the book. Will read again for sure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, and fun to read., 17 July 2011
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People from all walks of life have been duped by lone peddlers,advertising, fundraisers, and salespersons of all descriptions.In hindsight it was a disquieting experience for those who parted with well-earned money.In this book one learns about the factors and the techniques that are used to bring people to comply and say yes to persons whose motives are suspect. The author quotes his own experiences, describes experiments on how to influence choice and decisions,and quotes the feed back from students about their experience with the manipulators' tactics. A well-informed and constructive chapter is devoted to each of the basic principles used in the manufacture of compliance: consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity. However, personal greed is not discussed. Why? These days so many people are engrossed with self-interest.i.e. get the most for as little as possible- they might be the most vulnerable for the manipulative shark. By the end of the book you will know how not to succumb to artificial claims and promises by the doorstep peddler,the poster, the adverts in the press or on commercial radio or the colourful and sometimes far-fetched images on television. The comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book adds to its appeal: informative without being too technical and fun to read.
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