Robert Cialdini (@RobertCialdini) is widely regarded as the “Godfather of influence” for his groundbreaking work in ethical persuasion. An update of his bestseller that started it all, Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion, is out now.
What We Discuss with Robert Cialdini:
- Cialdini’s Universal Principles of Influence that turn you into an unstoppable persuasion machine (and allow you to defend yourself against the unethical influence of others).
- Why it’s a bad idea to accept a gift or favor from someone we don’t like or trust, and how we can reject such a gift or favor gracefully.
- How to become more likable (without being a smarmy weirdo about it).
- Why social proof is powerful for positive and negative outcomes and how we can leverage this.
- The most ideal time to disclose a negative for maximum damage control.
- And much more…
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Whether you’re a regular listener of The Jordan Harbinger Show or this is your first time, chances are pretty good you wound up here because you’re curious about influence, persuasion, applied psychology, confidence, nonverbal communication, charisma, and magnetism. In fact, Jordan’s interest in the development of these as learnable skills was initially sparked years ago by picking up Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, a book written by Dr. Robert Cialdini — our guest today. It’s safe to say this show might not exist as we know it had it not been for this fortuitous early exposure to the core concepts found within.
Dr. Cialdini joins us today to discuss how his classic bestseller, first published in 1984, has been revised, revisited, and expanded for the world of 2021. On this episode, we talk about the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings (and defend yourself when they’re applied unethically against you). Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our interview with Austin Meyer, the man who leads a valiant crusade against patent troll dirtbags? Catch up with episode 326: Austin Meyer | Slaying the Patent Scam Trolls here!
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Thanks, Robert Cialdini!
If you enjoyed this session with Robert Cialdini, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, PhD
- Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Cialdini, PhD
- Influence at Work
- Robert Cialdini | Twitter
- Robert Cialdini | Facebook
- This Is How Viagra Was Used to Entice Warlords in Afghanistan | We Are the Mighty
- Why the Halo Effect Affects How We Perceive Others | Verywell Mind
- What is the Horn Effect? | Exploring Your Mind
- Pluralistic Ignorance | Wikipedia
- What Is the Bystander Effect? | Verywell Mind
- Best Of “That’s My Purse!” | King of the Hill
- National Park Rethinks Its Message About Theft | The Journal
- Hertz vs. Avis Advertising Wars: How an Ad Firm Made a Virtue Out of Second Place | Slate
- Commitment and Consistency Bias | Farnam Street Blog
- Consistent Persuasion: How to Use the Principle of Consistency to Get Your Dental Patients Better Care | Dr. Phelps Helps
- IKEA Effect | The Decision Lab
- Amazon’s Pay to Quit Program is Better (and Worse) Than You Think | Qualigence International
- Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit – and You Should Too | Harvard Business Review
Robert Cialdini | A New Look at the Science of Influence (Episode 507)
Jordan Harbinger: A special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode.
[00:00:02] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:06] Robert Cialdini: In the case of reciprocity, let's say we've just done somebody a favor. We've gone out of our way. We've turned around an invoice more quickly. We've paid — whatever it is, we've done something for them. And they say, "Thank you. That was really great." And how often — I used to hear myself say, "Oh, don't think anything of it. It's part of the job. This is what we do for people. I would have done it for anybody." What a mistake.
[00:00:37] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional legendary Hollywood director, Russian spy, or economic hitman. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:04] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, we now have episodes starter packs. These are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics. This'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started with us, which is always appreciated.
[00:01:25] Today, Robert Cialdini, he is the absolute OG, the father of persuasion and influence. His book Influence is the seminal work on influence and persuasion. You've either read it or you've read books from people that are derivative or take concepts from this book and expound on them. This book and the concepts therein are in use by every marketer, government, propagandist, and parent on the planet, whether they know it or not. We're talking about automatic influence, fixed action patterns, reciprocation, the liking rule, how would you become more likable, how to defend ourselves against these techniques. I don't need to keep going to the intro. Again, this is the OG, this is a must listen. And I know you're going to love it so we can jump right in.
[00:02:02] And if you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers, and creators every week, it's because of my network and my influence and persuasion skills that I've learned from Robert Cialdini. I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. You can put some of these influence skills to work in creating and maintaining relationships. jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, most of the guests on our show — and this is a technique, it is an influence technique called social proof — most of the guests on our show already subscribed to the course and contributed to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong. That's also shaping you. You'll hear about it in the episode. All right, here's Robert Cialdini.
[00:02:42] So why redo the entire book or the original Influence, right? It's the classic, it's sort of the Bible where people go, "Oh, I've heard of these concepts. I didn't know they were from this book." Like it's that much of a classic kind of book?
[00:02:56] Robert Cialdini: Well, there's a quote that my grandfather used to favor. He said, "If you want things to stay the same around here, things are going to have to change." So the book has done very well. It sold more copies than I can sensibly imagined, 44 languages. I had a Polish colleague who said, "You know, Bob, your book Influence is so famous in Poland. My students think you're dead." So it was going well, there are good things, but you know, if things are going to stay the same, things have to change around here. So it seemed to me it was time for an update.
[00:03:35] Jordan Harbinger: Well, that it makes sense. I mean, there's probably a lot of research in this area, plus there's a lot of cool stories that have come out of people using these techniques for good, using these techniques for bad, and frankly influence and things like that has been in the news. And we'll get to some of those examples here on the show as well. I know a lot of folks are probably wondering how you came up with this. Did you just give people a bunch of surveys and then figure out the concepts, but you actually went undercover in — what was it? Sales, marketing, law enforcement to research, compliance and influence and those sorts of things.
[00:04:08] Robert Cialdini: Yes, I spent two and a half years infiltrating the training programs of as many influenced professions as I could get access to. I would answer ads and take training to be aspiring professional in sales, marketing, management, fundraising, recruitment, and so on to see what were the features of each training program that were consistent with all the other influenced practitioners and professions whose business it is to get others to say yes to them. And I was shocked by how small a footprint there was. There were a hundred, maybe thousands of individual tactics that people were using, but I thought I could identify the great majority of them in terms of just a very few fundamental. And I'm going to call them universal principles of persuasion, that if you include it into a message, you significantly increase the likelihood of a sent to that message.
[00:05:17] Jordan Harbinger: Why is it important that we understand what you refer to as automatic influence? What is it and why is it dangerous? Actually, it's probably a better question.
[00:05:26] Robert Cialdini: It's both necessary and dangerous. That is we live in what is unquestionably, the most information, overloaded, stimulus, saturated environment that has ever existed on this planet. And we're simply bombarded with information of all sorts every day, and to make good choices within that avalanche of challenges and choices and available options. We have to have shortcuts. Automatic tendencies that will normally steer us correctly if we just see one or another fundamental feature in that influence array that normally steers as correctly. Let's say something as simple as this is what the authorities are saying. This is an approach or a direction or a product or a service that experts have said is — well, now, we don't have to understand or process or filter through all the pros and cons of that, we just take that one piece of information, respond automatically to it, and we usually make a good choice. Well, in the modern world, we need those shortcuts.
[00:06:51] Jordan Harbinger: Because we have so much information, right? So this is where — we'll get through some of these examples further along in the show here. But this is why when we see that, on Amazon, there's only two left, right? Or when we see a bunch of people waiting outside a restaurant for something that we say, "That place must be good," because the heuristic is, "Hey, lots of people want to get in there. It's so full that they have to wait outside and they're actually waiting outside. They're not just going to the place next door. That place must be good." But of course, as we know, from being scammed over and over by everyone online or otherwise, all of these things can be engineered. And we've talked about that on the show. We've had con men on the show who pull these levers, right?
[00:07:30] Robert Cialdini: They are levers of influence. They just flick a switch and we respond automatically. You know, that you were just talking about online. You see all these stars and we're at war with those people who would falsify that information. They create phony reviews. They pay people to write in favor of their organization or their product or service. So that now — here's the piece of information I learned in researching the book. The most successful number of stars for producing converts moving people from prospect to customer is not five stars. It's a sweet spot between 4.2 and 4.7 stars. Below 4.2, you think, "Ah, this isn't so good." Above 4.7, you think, "Something's wrong here. I'm being scammed."
[00:08:28] Jordan Harbinger: Nothing's that good.
[00:08:29] Robert Cialdini: Yes. So that's the danger. There are people constantly — you know what a shortcut is? It's going through the woods. There are people lying in wait along the boundaries of those shortcuts for us.
[00:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: Right, right.
[00:08:43] Robert Cialdini: You know, to trick us.
[00:08:44] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So at some point our mind says, "This is not just convenient. It's too convenient. Thus, it's got to be a honey trap," as opposed to, "Hey, I'm just really lucky. I found this nice shortcut here." It can't be so appealing that it seems suspicious, right? And so that's funny that that works with like Trustpilot or Yelp.
[00:09:04] Robert Cialdini: Right, exactly. Now on the other hand, the more information overloaded the environment gets the less time we have for suspiciousness. The more we're inclined to just go ahead, because we've got to stop calibrating and calculating. We've got to move, we've got to get off the fence. We're going to lose otherwise.
[00:09:25] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So our brains are hardwired to look for the shortcuts and then unscrupulous people are noticing these and taking advantage of it. And yet they're still so useful, these shortcuts that we still have to use them. And you mentioned in the book fixed action patterns. This, I think, you call, click run. So like click, run, like an automatic program in the human brain. Can you give us some examples of this? First start with animals, right? Because when animals do it, we think, "Oh, how stupid are these animals?" Then when we do it, we go, "Well, wait a minute, but I have to. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Think about everything," right? So I think some of these examples are really funny and illustrative because they show how us humans are like two notches away from a turkey.
[00:10:03] Robert Cialdini: Right. So let's take birds, for example, If there's a robin, a male robin that is trying to protect its territory and it sees another robin come into the territory. It gets what click that produces the run of an attack, a program. You get an aggression attack program. Here's the key, it's not the robin as a whole. It's a specific shade of red breast feather that triggers it. So researchers show you can pin robin red breast feathers to a branch inside a bird's territory. It will attack the red feathers ferociously. You take a regular robin, paint it's breast feathers blue and it won't be attacked. It's not the whole thing. It's a single thing. Well, there are single features, fixed action patterns is what we call and trigger features that trigger those patterns in human decision-making about when to say yes. It's one thing, not the whole array.
[00:11:14] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. And I suppose that makes a difference for our brain, right? Because otherwise, our brain has to say, let's just use the robin example, "Is this a male robin?" "Well, he's got a red chest." And if that's the only thing we're looking at, then we can say, "Okay, that's pretty safe. All male robins have a red chest." Therefore, anything red, there's threatening, click, run. But if we say, if I'm a robin and I'm not evolved like that, I go, "Okay. Are the feathers red?" "Yes." "Okay. Well also, does he have these kinds of ears? What size is he? Does it look strong? Are we sure it's a robin? Maybe it's a different bird that looks kind of like it. Well, how close are they?" I mean, there's all these different things that are — there's more work that our brain has to do to figure out if something is a threat and that's less efficient probably.
[00:11:56] Robert Cialdini: Right. Because while we're doing that, the other robin is getting an advantage over us, flying above us, getting us into a situation where they have an advantage or has seen our environment, and so on. We can't just wait around. If the robin reacts quickly to just that one breast feather, because it's the only thing that usually signals another male robin. Well, then you have acted efficiently. You need that. You don't have the time to do the rest of it because if you take the time, the other robin, maybe getting an advantage on you while you're thinking about it.
[00:12:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So the quicker we can act, the more successful we'll be in our defense if we're a robin or in a human, in any of our examples here, but those things take time. So of course, we use shortcuts. And those, again, those shortcuts, those click run examples are what a lot of marketers and unscrupulous types will also take advantage of.
[00:13:00] There's a couple of principles in the book with those several actually, and we won't get to them all here on the show, but one of them, I think is really interesting, of course, the contrast principle showing something much worse, or let's say a higher price to get people to react more positively to the real price. So we see this all the time. It's very common. That's why I'm starting here with something that says like normally 14.99 today, 9.99. We go, "Oh, it's a deal," right? Because of the contrast, if it just is 9.99, we might go, "For a mug? I'm not paying 10 bucks for a mug," but if we think it's usually one price instead, it's the other. That's an obvious sort of thing that we see all the time with anchoring and pricing.
[00:13:37] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[00:13:38] Jordan Harbinger: With other examples, and one of them in the book, I remember this from the original book was, a daughter writes a letter home to her parents. Do you want to take us through that? Because I think this is — she gets an A in psychology, for sure.
[00:13:49] Robert Cialdini: Right. She says she writes a letter home to her parents. "I'm remiss. I'm sorry for not having written before. I want to bring you up to date and I can tell you that the jump out of my dormitory window after it caught fire produced only a concussion. And I can almost see normally now, and then only get those sick headaches once a day. And the fire was seen by an attendant at the gas station down the street. He kindly invited me to share his apartment with him because of the burnt-out dormitory. We've fallen deeply in love. We were planning to be married, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show. You know, he's a very fine boy. We've had a little trouble getting our premarital blood tests because he's failed his, but soon we'll be able to resume and I know you'll look forward to being grandparents." And then she says, "Now, I want to tell you there was no fire. There was no concussion. There was no boyfriend. I am not engaged. I am not going to be married, and I am not pregnant, but I am getting a D in chemistry and an F in math. And I wanted you to see those grades in their proper perspective." So what I say in response to that in the book is that, you know, she may be getting an F in math, but she gets an A in my psychology grade book because she knows how to use the principle of contrast.
[00:15:26] Jordan Harbinger: I love the principle of contrast, because I think it's something that we intuitively understand. It's something that we use all the time as humans and marketing. It's something that we, we always find ourselves being confronted with. But few of us really know how to use it. I don't think many of us are going to be writing a letter home to our parents like that anytime soon.
[00:15:44] But I think that a lot of us, if we start to become aware of these types of techniques in the wild, we cannot only use them for ourselves if necessary, but we can also realize when they're being used against us. And I think that's one of the major points of outlining all of these. So again, even though some of these might seem intuitive, I think there's something there to being able to deconstruct it and articulate it because once we can articulate something, we can kind of know when it's right in front of our face, instead of just feeling it, if it may be there. Right?
[00:16:14] Robert Cialdini: Right. A good example is just a wine list. You always get the list where they begin with the least expensive bottles and then go up to the moderately expensive ones and the most expensive. The problem with that is when you start with the least expensive. Now, by the time you get to the moderately expensive one, they seem more expensive than if you hadn't started down here. But if instead the list had begun with the most expensive, by the time you get to the moderate ones, they seem less expensive. People forget to do this correctly.
[00:16:53] Jordan Harbinger: So we can always make something more palatable or often make something more palatable by using anchoring. And that's why on online marketing, we see this a lot too, right? You see cheap option, middle option, super expensive option. And the super expensive option might say something like, best value, right? Because it's like, "Oh, well, okay, I'm getting more for more money." But the middle, I might say something along the lines of most popular. And that goes to the social proof idea, but either way you win or you have three prices. And the one at the top is actually a decoy that nobody really buys because it seems really overpriced, but it serves to make the price in the middle actually seem much more reasonable. Again, 14.99 for a mug, no way, or 9.99 for a mug, sounds much more reasonable if the original price was 14.99.
[00:17:39] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[00:17:40] Jordan Harbinger: I want to touch on reciprocation because I think this is an amazingly underutilized principle and it's something that people use in their relationships all the time. I didn't realize how powerful it actually was until you talked about the Taliban example. Can you go through this with us? Because reciprocation, a lot of people think, "Hey, I scratch your back. You scratch mine." But the fact that it applies to a war zone really shows you how strong this really is.
[00:18:06] Robert Cialdini: Right. So in Afghanistan, the US Secret Service, CIA, were frequently trying to get the cooperation of local tribal leaders to give them information about Taliban movements and supply routes and so on. But these leaders didn't much care for these CIA agents and so on. And they were getting almost no information. Besides if the tribal leader did this, they might get retaliation by the Taliban against their tribe. So there was one CIA officer who was visiting this particular patriarch and he noticed the guy seemed very tired, exhausted from being in charge of his whole tribe and being the head of a family with four wives, four younger wives. So he came back the next week with a gift, four Viagra tablets, one per wife, and he put them secretly in the tribal leader's hand. The next week, when he came back, this guy came bounding out of his hut and bringing him in and he gave him a cornucopia of information in return for that gift.
[00:19:31] So I always say to people, look, we have to give first. Give first. If you go into a room with people you want to want to be influential with—
[00:19:42] Jordan Harbinger: Give them Viagra.
[00:19:46] Robert Cialdini: Don't ask, "Who can help me here?" Ask, "Whom can I help?" Help that person who will stand on the balls of his or her feet ready to help you in return. And on the Internet, how do we do it? We do it with information that we give first on our site information, like the top five tips for nutrition or the top three mistakes that financial investors make that lead them, whatever your business is, you give first. It's costless and the other thing it does besides producing a gift that you've given to people and the obligation to give back that goes with it, you have established yourself as an authority. And authority is another one of the universal principles of influence.
[00:20:41] Jordan Harbinger: We may get to that later in the show. We may not even have time to get into it. It's another one of those where we kind of know intuitively that it works, people in uniform, et cetera. The reason I go into reciprocation and it's something — look, it works in networking and relationships and business. And again, people are going, "Come on, man. I've heard this before. We're all familiar with this. It's been — Cialdini wrote about this a decade ago or 20 years ago, or however long it's been now," right? "I'm familiar with this," but the power here is undeniable because it can even overcome being disliked. And I think that was the major takeaway that I got from the updated version of the book, which is if I do something nice for you, and then you later on feel like you owe me lunch, like, okay, big surprise. But the fact that we could be in someone else's country having invaded. They want us out of there. They're facing potentially lethal retaliation. And yet giving somebody, a couple of Viagra or a handful of Viagra, is enough in many cases to sway their actions. They might still say, "I hate these American pigs. Get out of our country, but I kind of owe this guy one because he helped me out."
[00:21:44] Robert Cialdini: I owe this guy, yes. I owe this guy. And it just crashes all the other considerations.
[00:21:50] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:21:50] Robert Cialdini: And here's the other thing about this book that I think I've tried to do differently. I tried to move from the idea of, let's say reciprocity or any of the concepts to, how do we harness it? What precisely do we say? What words do we use to activate that powerful principle? And in the case of reciprocity, let's say, we've just done somebody a favor. We've gone out of our way. We've turned around an invoice more quickly. We've paid whatever it is. We've done something for them. And they say, "Thank you. That was really great." And how often, I used to hear myself say, "Oh, don't think anything of it. It's part of the job. This is what we do for people. I would have done it for anybody." What a mistake. We've earned that principle. We need to be sure we don't knock it out the window, right?
[00:22:46] So here's what I suggest that people say, if this is somebody that we have a long-term relationship with a colleague or a long-term business partner, we say, "Of course, it's what long-term partners do for one another." We can't forget the term for one another so that we've put it on the map. We haven't knocked it out the window with the back of our hand. We put it on the map. That person now is ready to help us. Now, if this person isn't somebody, we have a long-term relationship or friendship with, here's what I recommend we say, "Of course, I was glad to do it. I know if the situation were ever reversed, you do the same for me." Once again, we put that on the map. We don't diminish it at all.
[00:23:40] Now, here's what I think is important. I've heard people use a variant of this and get that wrong. They say, "Oh, I was glad to help. I know that if the situation had been reversed, you would have done the same for me." Well, that's in the past. No, you say, "If the situation were to be reversed, I know you would do this same for me." Now, you've got the future open to you for reciprocal exchange.
[00:24:12] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, okay. That's interesting. I definitely have — I mean, I help people all the time and they say, "Thank you." And I say, "Oh, it's my pleasure. Don't mention it or don't worry about it," or something along those lines. But I suppose I could just as easily switch to, "Hey, this is what good people do for one another," or something along those lines.
[00:24:30] Robert Cialdini: Or friends do for one another or partner, business partners. Yes.
[00:24:34] Jordan Harbinger: You do the same thing for me if the roles are reversed.
[00:24:37] Robert Cialdini: You do the same thing for me.
[00:24:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm going to start using that. People are going to see that in my emails now or in my DMs on LinkedIn. And they're going to go, "Aha! You are applying it." Yeah.
[00:24:46] Robert Cialdini: Well, you know, I used to do it all the time. And now I use this other language and nobody has ever said, "Oh, I see what you're doing." Nobody.
[00:24:57] Jordan Harbinger: What I like about this is it's not manipulative if your intent is good, because all you're doing is triggering something — look, I guess any of this can be misused, but if I'm saying, "Well, you do the same for me if the roles were reversed." I just one, I just did them a favor, so, you know, I'm already—
[00:25:14] Robert Cialdini: Right, you earned it.
[00:25:15] Jordan Harbinger: And two, I'm probably just going to say, "Share the podcast with some friends." I'm not going to say so please donate a kidney or mail me some valuable item, a family heirloom that I can put in a pawn shop. Like I'm not going to pull a full-on cable TV pastor kind of move on these folks. But this does bring up an interesting concept, right? Because that would make it a bad idea to accept a gift or favor from somebody that we didn't trust. Wouldn't it?
[00:25:44] Robert Cialdini: That's right. And indeed, if you think that this is a device, because you don't trust this person, you know this is a devious individual, yeah, you can decline. But you don't do that as a rule.
[00:25:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:00] Robert Cialdini: You don't do that as a rule. You go in expecting the best of people. And if they give you things, then you open yourself up to genuinely helpful, friendly people. You don't want to wall them off.
[00:26:12] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:13] Robert Cialdini: It's only if then they say, "Hey, now that I've done this for you, would you help me move on Thursday and bring over a rental truck?" Then you get to say, "Wait a minute, that's a trick."
[00:26:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:27] Robert Cialdini: This was an artifice. This was a device. I'm not falling for. Because what the rule says is favors deserve to be returned tricks. You don't return a trick with a favor.
[00:26:41] Jordan Harbinger: Right. No, that makes sense. These people who are using this trick, they know that it's very hard to reject a gift. It's rude in like every culture known to man to reject a gift. That's where the phrase comes or the old saying, "There's nothing more expensive than that, which comes for free." It comes from somebody doing someone a favor and then having them ask to move.
[00:27:02] One of the stories in the original book was that people don't sue doctors that they like. It was one of these kinds of, I don't know, if insurance companies dug this up or if you came out with this in your research, but we find that people don't sue doctors for malpractice if they like the doctor. They'll sue somebody completely different who worked at the hospital or they'll sue some other organization that had nothing to do with it, the medication manufacturer, if they like their doctor. And that was an amazing takeaway, not only for many, I'm sure, actuaries and insurance companies over the years. But also because we know now that being liked is actually a pretty darn good insurance policy, not just if you're a doctor, but if you're anybody helping anyone and you were worried about ramifications from that, the best thing you can do is have a decent relationship with that person or that group.
[00:27:57] Robert Cialdini: Yes. I mean, liking is one of the universal principles of influence because it works so well and so broadly across all these situations. I saw an article that listed the factors in an e-commerce site that significantly increase the likelihood of conversion if it was there. It was a welcoming letter. How many sites do we have a welcoming letter in it. Just saying the way you would to some who came to your door, a friend who came to you, you welcome them in. You say how glad you are to see them, how good it is to have them with you. Why don't we do that online. Online, we have to infuse our electronic communications with as much humanity as we possibly can because humanity and liking and rapport are the things that move us toward people.
[00:28:55] Jordan Harbinger: So the obvious question is how do we get more likable? And one of the concepts here is the halo effect. And then we've talked about this on the show before, "Hey, if you're a good-looking person, people will assume that you're smarter or more competent." And that's maybe no surprise. I guess it's kind of a bummer for those of us that might be a six out of 10 because now we just have to get smarter, I guess. But how come that principle doesn't necessarily work the other way? If I'm very good looking, people say I'm more competent, I'm more intelligent, but nobody's going, "Dang, that Stephen Hawking guy, he was one sexy guy," right? But he was a genius. I mean, he was one of the smartest people of our time and the principal doesn't really seem to work in the other direction.
[00:29:39] Robert Cialdini: In his instance, it doesn't because the principle of authority militated against it, right? Because this guy was recognized as the most brilliant physicist of our era. So you can't quite reconcile those things, but there is also something called a horns effect, just as there's a halo effect where everything around you, if you're good looking, there's also something called a horn effect. If there's something negative about you, distinctively negative, people then associate other negative things with you. In the same way as a halo effect, it infuses everything. So we have to be sure that we make sure that our first encounters with people are very positive, welcoming letter, doing something nice for them first, giving them a compliment, pointing out a similarity between the two of us that exist, that produces that liking positive rapport. And then we can build much more efficiently from that platform to, yes.
[00:30:52] Jordan Harbinger: The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Robert Cialdini. We'll be right back.
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[00:34:01] Jordan Harbinger: Now, back to Robert Cialdini on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:34:07] I was surprised at how mundane the commonality could be. And you see this when you kind of think about car sales, you walk in, "Oh, where are you from?" "Oh, Michigan." Oh yeah. I've got a third cousin that lives out there. He likes fishing." "Oh, do you like fishing?" I mean, it's just, it's like, you wonder what these guys are doing, but apparently it works. But in your research, you show that even if somebody has similar initials, right? If I'm going to the car dealership and the guy's name is John Hancock. I mean, literally the J-H can somehow notch me up one little level closer to closing the deal, which is amazing. Because if I think about this, logically, I go, "I don't care if your initials are similar. I don't care if you grew up in Michigan," but somehow my subconscious cares.
[00:34:52] Robert Cialdini: Your subconscious care is because it's about associations. If the associations are positive, they don't have to be logical to have a favorable effect.
[00:35:04] Jordan Harbinger: That's a little scary. I sort of let that sink in. Right? Because people can easily take advantage of that, especially in the Internet age. You google someone, you look at their hobbies, and you can immediately become a cat owner who likes to have bees in their backyard and travels to Italy occasionally, or just knows a lot about it and is interested in podcasting. I mean, you can really just pull those levers. And someone will go, "What a coincidence!" They won't say, "Oh, he must have googled me," and is using one of these principles because we will just take those associations and run.
[00:35:38] And the same thing with compliments. Like if somebody is too complimentary, right? It's the same thing as we discussed at the top of the show where it triggers that suspicion, but the praise can be something that maybe isn't even necessarily true. And we used to call this shaping when I was doing social engineering — you call it alter casting, I think right — where we give praise, not for something that we necessarily see to get on their good side. We give praise for a trait that we want to see more of.
[00:36:07] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[00:36:07] Jordan Harbinger: That is brilliant and possibly can be used in an underhanded way.
[00:36:11] Robert Cialdini: Right. We give them a reputation to live up to with that praise, something they want to live up to. So for example, I have a newspaper carrier who goes by my house every morning and tosses my paper from the window of his car, into the center of my driveway, most of the time, 75 percent of the time. The other times it's on the sides and the paper gets wet from the watering systems. So he always sends me a little letter with his name and address on it and asked me to give him a tip at the end of the year. I always do I give them a tip, but this time I wrote a little note on a post-it and attached it to the check. And I said, "You know, Carl, thank you for your conscientiousness at getting my paper in the middle of the driveway." So often in the past, he did that about 75 percent of the time. This year, every day, 100 percent. He's living up to the reputation I gave him. So if somebody does something that we see as conscientious or helpful or something, compliment that person on not the behavior on the trait, because the trait stays in that person and goes forward into the future. We'll see more of it as a consequence.
[00:37:43] Jordan Harbinger: Something that we did back at one of my old companies. If we spotted a lot of mistakes or even small things from certain people or from even a group of people, we would say something along the lines of, and we didn't even do it necessarily in person because then they would feel singled out, or we do it in a group meeting or in an email, we'd say something along the lines of, "One of the things that makes this organization great is that even if somebody falls short of the bar, they're not punished and it makes us all better because they continue to," it's something along the lines of like, "Continue to correct their mistakes or they continue to clean things up, even if no one's ever going to see it." And then you'd slowly see like, "Oh, you know, they probably didn't see that I didn't finish that or that I left that that way, but we're an organization that makes sure that things are always cleaned up, put away, taken care of even if no one's going to see it. So I'm just going to go ahead and roll that up." Or, "I'm going to make sure that this closet is organized." It had to be refreshed every now and again, because I was dealing with a lot of 20 somethings. Maybe they weren't as conscientious as Carl, the paper delivery guy. But it is quite powerful, I mean, people love to see themselves in a positive light. And if you just give them the light to shine on themselves, they'll do it.
[00:38:51] Robert Cialdini: You know, it happened to me. I was the victim of this. I wrote a book called Pre-Suasion before this new version of Influence. And the first 5,000 copies had a printing error or actually several printing errors. The paging was wrong and there were some pages that the print was much fainter than other pages. And my editor called me up and he said, "Bob, I have some news for you. It's unfortunate news." And he told me about this. 5,000 copies were out there.
[00:39:24] Jordan Harbinger: It's a lot.
[00:39:25] Robert Cialdini: And they were the ones that went to the most important bookstores, to the reviewers who we wanted to write reviews of, that most important reviewers. And he said to me, "I hate when this happens to good guys like you." You know what I heard myself say, "Aah, Ben it's okay. Don't think anything of it. You know it happens. This is—" I became the nice guy instead of pounding my fist on the desk and saying, "What? How are you going to compensate for me? What are you going to do? How are you going to pull those books out of the bookstores?" No, I became the nice guy he labelled me as.
[00:40:03] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe if that ever happens again, you just say, "You know it's no problem because what we can do is print up 5,000 little cards and in the front of the book, we'll place those cards. And they'll say something like, Dear reviewer, we know that some of the pages on this book are off, but we knew that we're able to look beyond the cosmetic appearance of this, really look at the content and that we know, you know that that is the most important part. So we've given you one of these copies and we know that it won't be a big deal," something along those lines. Then they go, "You know what? I need to print."
[00:40:33] Robert Cialdini: Jordan, you've got the concept, man.
[00:40:36] Jordan Harbinger: It's scarily, easy to apply. And our examples right now might seem a little bit on the nose. But I think when people start to become aware of this happening and even start trying to use this, and they think I'm going to get caught if I do this with my kid or my significant other, or my boss. You will be surprised at what you can essentially get away with because you're giving people a compliment. Very few people are going to go, "How dare you tell me that I'm a nice understanding person." It just doesn't really happen."
[00:41:05] Robert Cialdini: And actually this describes all of the principles, because as we said, they occur mechanically. They occur automatically. We don't step back from them as a rule and say, "Wait a minute. Is that an overly large compliment? Or is that too much of a gift? Or do I like this guy too much for the 35 minutes I've been with him while he's trying to sell me a car? Wait a minute, we don't do that.
[00:41:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It just, it doesn't really make a lot of sense to be that on guard. Only people who are — I'm sure there are some people that are that on guard. But that's almost a dysfunction, right? If you're really stopping all of your click run heuristics to try and stop influence principles. I mean, show me a person who's doing that and I'll show you somebody who has very few friends in social interactions, it's not a normal type of way to live.
[00:41:54] Robert Cialdini: That's right. And it's somebody who's locked in place most of the time, trying to deliberate between all the pros and cons while the time for action speeds by in a way.
[00:42:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah, you're either a massive over-thinker or you're a borderline paranoid in a way that probably inhibits other functions.
[00:42:12] One of the other elements of likeability is familiarity and exposure. And you give the example of looking at two photos, one of the way that we see ourselves in the mirror and the other, which other people typically see when they're looking at us. And we always choose the one that we're more familiar with, the mirrored one. For folks who are wondering, this is the same concept of why we see models and commercials, because marketers want us to associate desirability with the products in that sort of association. And for me, the principles of contrast and association, I wonder where these leave off.
[00:42:46] For example, let's say I'm hanging out with a — I'm going to just be blunt here. Let's say, I'm hanging out with ugly people a lot and I'm average looking. I look great by contrast, but now I'm also associating with ugly people all the time. So that status would rub off on me too, right?
[00:43:01] Robert Cialdini: Right. So you don't want to do that. You don't want to hang out with people who have lower ethics or skills or because you're known by the company you keep on the one hand. On the other hand, if it's a situation where you're at a party and some buddy walks up to you, who's less attractive to you, or you go over and talk to somebody. A third person who comes along is going to see you as significantly more attractive than if that person wasn't there with you. So you can choose that you can do that strategically, but never do it characteristically that you're always hanging out with people who are associated with less negative ideas, because you're going to get some of that association flowing to you.
[00:43:53] Jordan Harbinger: So it's essentially almost a factor of time, right? Like, so if I'm standing next to somebody for a brief period of time, the contrast effect may be dominant, but if I'm always associating with people of, let's just say generally, low status, then the status then rubs off on me. And the contrast effect, it actually probably gets washed out a little bit because there is less contrast. The status is washing, weighing me down. I'm being weighed down by the other. There's no real polite way to explain this one, is there?
[00:44:20] Robert Cialdini: Well, no, but there's a piece of research that shows — so suppose you want to feel better about yourself. And you go back and you think about a time when things were really tough. When you were in the middle of a bad relationship, you were feeling lonely. All things were going bad, right? So should you go back there and now make yourself feel better by contrast to how you are now? You should, if you go back there briefly. If you go back there characteristically or for a long time, now the negative associations get absorbed and you're into the bad mood now. So yes, you should go back, but briefly. Then you get the contrast principle working for you. You go back and hang out there. Now, you got the association principle working against you.
[00:45:19] Jordan Harbinger: So if we're going to dip our toe in the water of low status or negativity or something along those lines, just be sure to pull your foot out as quickly as possible as soon as you get that contrast effect.
[00:45:29] Robert Cialdini: Yes.
[00:45:29] Jordan Harbinger: Don't sit there, waiting for it to do more because what you're going to end up with is a bigger problem than you started with.
[00:45:35] Robert Cialdini: Feeling sorry for yourself and just, you're going to soak up the negativity and it will change your mood.
[00:45:41] Jordan Harbinger: What happens if we find ourselves liking someone too quickly, right? We'd find ourselves liking someone too quickly. And we go, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. This doesn't feel right. Something's wrong here." What do I do? I mean, walking away obviously is always the answer to this kind of thing I assume. But what if we don't necessarily have that option? What if we just know in the moment we're being manipulated?
[00:46:01] Robert Cialdini: I used this a little bit earlier when I said, suppose you're buying a new car and you're in the showroom and you're really liking your salesperson. It's 35 minutes and you're liking this person more than you normally would spending 35 minutes with somebody. This is where the flags should go up. And you say, "Wait a minute, what has he been doing?" Well, he gave me a soft drink. He said his wife grew up where I grew up. He complimented me on my choices, my choices of option. He used all the principles of liking, and I'm not going to be driving him off the lot. I'm going to be driving this Toyota or this Ford off the lot. So at that point, you say to yourself, it's time to step back and consider the choice entirely on its merits, on the merits of the theme of the deal, not the person who's delivering, who's presenting the merits to meet. That is a short-term relationship. I want to get away from that for making my choice. Now, if it's a matter of a friendship, I think you may want to hang out with somebody who's so authentic and funny and, and pleasant and so on and see if it stands the test of time.
[00:47:32] Jordan Harbinger: The pluralistic ignorance effect. Now, this is a fancy way of saying, why do people wait in line just because other people are waiting in line, among other concepts? But this is really the one of these funny examples where we're seeking certainty. This is the example I mentioned earlier in the show, this sort of social proof where we see people waiting in line for that iPhone. And we think, "Man, that phone must be something else."
[00:47:56] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[00:47:57] Jordan Harbinger: So this unfortunately can also lead to the bystander effect. And I want to talk about this a little bit, because we've heard about the bystander effect where — and if people haven't, this is kind of the classic example is, you're on a city street. Someone is on the ground breathing heavily or having a heart attack or so we think, and people are stepping around them or looking at them and not doing anything because everyone else is not doing anything. And it creates this sort of lock where if you're not doing anything and they're not doing anything, then I'm not going to do anything. And everyone's thinking the exact same thing.
[00:48:28] Robert Cialdini: Right. Because people are saying, "Oh, if they're not acting like it's an emergency, it must not be an emergency. It must be just the drunk sleeping one off on the side of the road there. And so everybody decides that nothing is wrong because nobody is acting as if it's wrong. And the reason nobody is acting is that nobody wants to seem flustered and everybody wants to feel poised and calm in a situation and knowledgeable. And so you look around at what the other people are doing before you get all agitated and they're looking around too. And they see that you're not getting agitated. And so everybody says, "I guess it's no issue."
[00:49:15] So if you're ever in that situation, if you find yourself in need and distress, maybe you're having a stroke or something, and people are walking by you. You're in the park. People are walking by you. They're looking at you, but they're not acting. What do you say? What do you say? What words do you say? You say, "You in the blue shirt, call 911." You assign the task to one person. So they're not going to look around them to see what to do. You've told them you are the person to do this.
[00:49:53] Now, there's even more interesting information about what you should say if you're a woman who's being assaulted. Research shows that if there's a public confrontation, a physical confrontation between a man and a woman, most people will not get involved because they think this is a couple, this is an internal conflict and they shouldn't get involved. If they get involved, those people will tell them to hit the road. It's none of your business. So what a woman needs to say to get help is to the person who is attacking her even if it's her spouse, "Get away from me. I don't know you." And as soon as she says, "I don't know you," everybody around them knows this is something to intervene in. So again, the exact words that you use are now what we put in the new version of the book.
[00:50:53] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. It is disturbing that people are so unwilling to get in the middle of a domestic dispute. But I also kind of understand why at another level, because you've read so often that — you don't even help anything, you just end up getting stabbed or something, and then they're back together after. Those two are back together after you're dead.
[00:51:10] Robert Cialdini: Testifying against you.
[00:51:12] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah. Testifying against, "He just attacked my husband." "Weren't you getting punched in the face?" "Well, no. I mean, I don't know." You know that they won't do it, but if you say, "Hey, I don't know you." Then I can see that working and people going, "Wait a minute. Okay, this is a stranger just attacking this woman." And then kind of everybody's ears would perk up. It's a shame, but it does make sense that that would work.
[00:51:31] And the book also outlines why social proof is powerful for both positive and negative outcomes and how we can leverage that, so cults, anti-smoking groups, and things along those lines. And I think that that's a very useful way to think about social proof. And I remember when I was teaching and doing a lot of the dating stuff, it would be like, "Oh, you want to be seen with these things, attractive people. And you want to know the people that work there and make sure that they're calling you by name and all these sorts of familiarity and social proof concepts." But in the public service sector, you mentioned in the new edition, there's a lot of public service communication, gone wrong, right? Highlighting the wrong thing when it comes to signs and trying to influence behavior. I'd love for you to take us through that a little bit because it's almost hilarious how bad this backfires.
[00:52:17] Robert Cialdini: Right. So for example, I live in Arizona and Arizona is the national petrified forest. At the entrance to the forest, there's a sign that says so many people have been stealing petrified wood from the forest floor, that it is endangering the existence of the forest, the integrity of the forest, of the park. We did some research that signed triples theft. Because it tells people that's what visitors are doing here. I came to this realization because I had a graduate student who was coming from California. He was working in an ad agency in LA. He worked with me in Arizona. And his fiancee stopped at the petrified forest. And he describes her as the single, most honest person he's ever known in his life. She's never borrowed a paperclip or a rubber band that she hasn't returned. And he says, we're standing in front of that sign. And he said, "Before I finished reading it, I felt her elbow in my rib. And she said, 'We'd better get ours too.'" The single most honest person he has ever known becomes an environmental criminal because of social proof. That's how powerful it is. And it's mispurposed social proof, telling people how many others are doing this wrong, tells them how many others are doing it. And people pile in to the evidence of what those around them like them are doing.
[00:54:00] Jordan Harbinger: It's really kind of funny how much of an epic fail that signed must be. And it's actually a little depressing to think about how many pieces of petrified forest probably have been stolen as a result of that sign from people who ended up, I don't know, throwing them away when they get home because they're like, "I don't need this thing. I just took it because I don't know why. I'm stupid. I took it." You know, versus trying to do it in the proper way. So what do you do instead? Do you write a sign that says, "Everyone's protecting the forest, don't be the one who doesn't"? I don't know something along those lines.
[00:54:30] Robert Cialdini: Yes. What we say is if even one person steals, it undermines the integrity of the forest. So we marginalized rather than normalized theft and that cuts theft in half.
[00:54:45] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Yeah. That's something to pay attention to, right? If you own a store instead of, "A lot of people shoplift. Watch your stuff." Or, you know, "A lot of people steal here. Watch your stuff." It might be, "This is a very safe place, but theft is so rare, but nonetheless, maybe don't leave your bag unattended." I don't know something along those lines.
[00:55:02] Robert Cialdini: Yeah. We will prosecute to the full extent of the law even the rare person who does shoplift.
[00:55:11] Jordan Harbinger: That's almost a nicer feeling as well because the last thing I want to do is think, wow, I'm in a place where everybody's steals and it's kind of dangerous. I want to think only the biggest a-holes that walk in here, steal things. I'm not one of those people. Right?
[00:55:24] Robert Cialdini: Right. Marginalize the undesirable behavior. Don't normalize it.
[00:55:30] Jordan Harbinger: We mentioned authority earlier, and this is something that's probably not going to be new for most people, but we trust doctors. We trust people in uniform, typically more, a lot of con artists will dress in scrubs to show you that they know what they're doing, or they'll get a PhD from a mail-order university and say that they're a doctor. And then they'll tell you to buy their magical spirit water or whatever. And we often fake status to get authority and we fake authority to get status. That's big. Anybody who's ever been on a date or been in the dating pool has seen this firsthand. And what this does with authority can do is it turns off or disables critical things. And this has been massive in social engineering. I'm sure you've done a lot of work with those like ethical hackers and security personnel who one of the best things you can do or I should say one of the most effective things you can do is utilize authority to get people to just not think critically about the crappy forgery you're handing over to them or something along those lines. I know that you mentioned disclosing shortfalls or weaknesses in advance, right? In this building authority, creating a more trustworthy impression. Can you talk about this? Because this is sort of an additional take on the concept of authority.
[00:56:44] Robert Cialdini: Yeah. Authority turns out to be most successful when it's a credible authority. That is a person who has two features. One is expertise, knowledge. That's what we typically think, "Oh, that's an expert." And we should be sure before we ever try to influence people to let people know of our genuine background and experience and credentials in an area. We should be sure to do that.
[00:57:09] But then the second feature is trustworthiness. If you've got expertise and trustworthiness as a communicator, all other things equal, no one can beat you. It's the single most effective authority communicator we have ever uncovered in behavioral science. So we know about expertise and credentials. Get those across. Usually in writing, you don't want to do it face to face. You come off like a bragger, right? Get those across, or have somebody else present your credentials.
[00:57:46] But then credibility is the perception that you're willing to provide this expert information in an honest, unbiased way. You're not trying to serve your own interests with it. You're trying to accurately depict reality. And there's a strategy that produces instant trustworthiness. It is, before you mentioned the strongest feature of your case, you mentioned a weakness in your case, a drawback. And it causes people to sit back in their chairs and say, "What? This person is saying something that's not a plus. I have to listen. This is a trustworthy person." And that's the place for your strongest argument now. When people are registering you as a credible source of information now, if you give them the strength of your case, that overwhelms the weakness, they believe it in a way they wouldn't have believed it before. You honestly informed them of your credibility.
[00:58:53] Jordan Harbinger: So this would be an example of this might be now you might notice that this is the most expensive model on the market by far on the other hand, it's the most effective, and it's also the safest and it's also dah, dah, dah, but it is again what, you know yeah. And you list all these amazing—
[00:59:09] Robert Cialdini: No, you're exactly right. You're exactly right. Or if you 're in a job interview and you say, "You know, I don't have a lot of experience in this particular area, but as you can see from my other information that I give you, I'm a fast learner." They believe you, that you're a fast learner. That they're going to get somebody who is going to grab this information and be a fresh mind to use it.
[00:59:38] Jordan Harbinger: As long as you can actually show that and you're not just blowing smoke because there's an experienced interviewer or a hiring manager would go, "I don't see anything here that indicates you're a fast learner." Right? You have to have some evidence to show for it.
[00:59:49] Robert Cialdini: Yeah. You have some evidence of it. Like, for example, your grades.
[00:59:52] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Robert Cialdini. We'll be right back.
[00:59:59] This episode is sponsored in part by Chili technology. This is a freaking genius device. I used to sleep at night and wake up all the time because I tend to run warm. On top of the fact, it's freaking hot these days I thrush around, toss and turn. I can't get enough cool to go to sleep. Jen wants the temperature set at a different thing in the house. So the chiliPAD and the OOLER has made such a difference for me. The bed feels cool. Like you just got in and stays cool all night long. And the quality of your sleep. I probably don't have to explain why that's important to your productivity during the day, your mood during the day, if you're anything like me. So an optimize night's sleep, you're going to feel better when you wake up, promotes immunity, benefits your mindset, helps with weight loss efforts. You know, if you're working out, you want to get good rest as well. They make the chiliPAD and OOLER. These are both innovative options that fit over the top of your existing mattress. You don't have to throw away your perfectly good mattress and get a new one. It uses water to control the temperature. So you're not surrounded by electrical wires. You know, doing all of the, whatever wires might do. It can also warm or cool the bed. So if you're already cold, you can use it to warm you up with some nice sort of water, beddy type feeling without all the sloshing around. I'm a big fan.
[01:01:07] Jen Harbinger: Head on over to chilitechnology.com/jordan for ChiliSleep's best deal, which they're offering to our listeners for a limited time. That's chili C-H-I-L-I-technology.com/jordan for your special offer.
[01:01:19] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Klaviyo. Ever wonder how the commerce brands that you admire do it, how they know just the right messages to send the right people at the right time. Guess what? It's not experienced. They have the right data and the right tools. They have Klaviyo. Klaviyo's data-driven marketing automation platform is sophisticated enough to power those legendary campaigns from the brands you admire, but they made it simple, easy, and fast enough for anyone to use. Klaviyo helps brands easily create personalized multi-channel marketing campaigns, using your most powerful asset, your customer data. Klaviyo integration with all leading e-commerce platforms, helping you use your customer data in real time to send more relevant email and SMS automations. Plus building a marketing campaign is drag and drop easy. You get started with your first campaign and under an hour and easily build from there with Klaviyo's best performing templates. Klaviyo gives you all the power of an enterprise marketing automation platform and none of the complexity. So you can compete with the big guys. No wonder more than 65,000 brands can't get enough.
[01:02:15] Jen Harbinger: To get started with a free trial of Klaviyo, visit klayvio.com/jordan. That's K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/jordan.
[01:02:24] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by Hyundai. Hyundai questioned everything to create the best Tucson ever. Every inch of the all-new Tucson has been completely re-imagined resulting in an SUV loaded with available innovations, both inside and out. From design to technology to safety, every aspect of the new Tucson has been improved upon. Hyundai's digital key allows you to transform your smartphone into a spare key. And if you're like me and forgetful of where your keys are in the first place, it's just one less thing to remember. LED daytime running lights are stylishly hidden within the cascading front grill, making them invisible when not in use. Set multiple user profiles, which is so handy because I share a car with my wife who's like five feet tall and I'm almost six feet tall with shoes on at least on a good day. So I love that I can hop in and have the seat mirrors, climate control, radio presets, all personalized for me. And 10.25-inch full-touch infotainment screen, and a blind spot view monitor. The SUV has been completely redesigned inside and out to create the best Tucson ever. Learn more at hyundai.com.
[01:03:23] Hey, thanks so much for listening to the show. I really love creating this stuff for you. The whole team loves creating this stuff for you. Your support of our advertisers. I know sometimes the ads are annoying. I try to make them entertaining, but your support of our advertisers keeps us going. All the deals, all the codes, they're all in one place. You don't have to write them down. You don't have to memorize them. Please do consider according those who support us and you can do so easily by going to jordanharbinger.com/deals, all the codes, all the URLs in one place.
[01:03:51] Don't forget, we've got worksheets for today's episode. Those are also free. If you want some of the drills and exercises talked about during the show, they're all in one easy place in the worksheets that we make for you. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[01:04:05] Now, for the conclusion of our episode with Robert Cialdini.
[01:04:10] This is a good thing for people in the job market to note as well because then a lot of young people go in and they go, "So they want somebody who's fresh and young and under 30 and willing to work hard. And they want two decades of experience. Who started doing this at age 11?" Nobody, right?
[01:04:24] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[01:04:24] Jordan Harbinger: That's the common joke is they're looking for somebody who's over 18 and has 20 years or 18 or whatever under, and has 20 years of experience. So if we're going to disclose a negative, we do it right. Not at the very end because the peak end rule says most people might remember that part the most. You do it right before the most favorable elements, which will outweigh the negative.
[01:04:43] Robert Cialdini: Exactly. Do you remember the ad campaign for Avis, which was Avis, "We're number two but we try harder"?
[01:04:51] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah. That's interesting.
[01:04:52] Robert Cialdini: Right. Increased their market share by 700 percent in one year.
[01:04:59] Jordan Harbinger: You'd really don't get that in the lifetime of most companies, 700 percent increase. I mean, that's a cryptocurrency level return on your investment if you bought shares in that company. Which reminds me, now's a great time to remind people that negative reviews add to the credibility of the positive for anything. And in business, for example, this podcast, right? I'd still rather have the positive reviews, but everyone should know that most people leave positive reviews for this podcast, including some very competent and attractive people. So just throwing that out there for everyone.
[01:05:31] Unrelated to that, what is our defense against an authority attempt? What if we know that this is happening to us in real time, the guy in the white lab coat says we should buy this, but we know he's full of it. What do we do?
[01:05:43] Robert Cialdini: So I recommend, if you notice at the end of each chapter, there's a section called defense. How do you defend yourself against these principles when they're used in an undue or unwelcomely? For authority what I say is you have to ask yourself two questions. Is this person truly an authority on the topic? That sends you away from the lab coat, it sends you away from the suit, sends you away from the automobile or whatever it is, the title that they say they have to credentials. It sends you to credentials. Is this person truly in authority? Then if the answer is yes, you're still not done. You have to ask. Is there a reason why this authority might be not telling me the truth because he's invested in this particular product or is being paid to say this? Something like — so you ask yourself two questions. Is this an authority? And should I believe that this authority is providing the best possible information?
[01:06:50] Jordan Harbinger: In the time that we have left? I'd love to touch on commitment and consistency because there's some really deep implications for folks who are paying attention to this. The example you give is how good the Chinese were in the Korean War of brainwashing American POWs, and this example is kind of scary. People can google it and get the full story, but essentially, why don't you take us through this? Just in brief, because I know it is kind of a long example, but it's really disturbing because now, frankly, we see the Chinese Communist Party doing this against their own people, but we see a lot of examples of this in cults. We see a lot of examples of this in pretty much any unsavory organization that exists today is using commitment and consistency throughout.
[01:07:34] Robert Cialdini: Right. And again, it involves having people take a small step that seems harmless, but then that they use to build, because that is now a commitment you've made in a particular direction. Now, you will be asked to perform behaviors that are consistent with that small step until you get to a place you never would have said yes to. Here's an example in Korea, both the Chinese Communists and the North Koreans had prison camps. The North Koreans tried to get confessions, tried to get various kinds of admissions of the benefits of communism by using force. It didn't work at all, but the Chinese were brilliant. They would do small things like say in an interrogation.
[01:08:24] So would you agree that the United States is not a perfect society? Everybody is, "Oh yeah. Okay. It's not perfect. Nothing's perfect." "Well, could you tell me some of the ways that it's not perfect." And then, "Well, we have some unemployment and we have a lot of poverty and sometimes we have corrupt officials." "Oh, could you write those down? They're what you believe, right?" And now in a group meeting, you're asked to read aloud to your fellow prisoners, all the things that you think are wrong. "They're what you believe, right? We're not asking you to say." But now you're making more and more public statements of this. And then sometimes you'll be asked to turn them into an essay. And the winner of an essay contest gets a small prize.
[01:09:17] And so in order to get that prize, it might be nothing more than a couple more cigarettes or a piece of fruit people will start embellishing the negatives because they know the more negatives they have, the more, the better chance of winning the prize. Now, the Chinese Communists have an essay that you wrote that they can show to everybody and cause you to become a prisoner who has agreed with their case from nothing by commitment and consistency.
[01:09:51] Jordan Harbinger: And this is scary because it works even when we're aware of the coercion element, right. This isn't something where we go, "Oh, okay. Now, I know that, you know, they're using authority on me." This is a scary one because you can see it happening to you almost in real time. And then what do you do? I mean, it seems so much more difficult to defend yourself against this particular principle.
[01:10:11] Robert Cialdini: Once again, we have to know what the principles are. We've talked about, so your audience will know what these principles are. When you find yourself doing that, just as you say, "Wait a minute, I would never say this. What has happened to me?" Then you can trace back the tricks that were used. It wasn't a real commitment to communism or against democracy. These were tricks. These were devices. That way you can put on the brakes. Pull back from that sense that, "Oh, I have to continue to be consistent with this because it wasn't a genuine commitment I ever had to communism," let's say.
[01:10:53] Jordan Harbinger: So, if we want to get somebody to believe in something, maybe don't bribe them. Don't force them. I hate to use the word, but I'm going to use it anyway, bait them to take responsibility for what they're doing so that they invest in it emotionally or otherwise.
[01:11:07] Robert Cialdini: Right. So for example, you know how when you go to a doctor or dental appointments. It changed these days because of the Internet, but we used to get a little card at the end of our appointment, where there would be the date and time of our next appointment. And you would get a significant number of no-shows as a result of that. And they found out that they could knock no-shows down to almost nothing by instead of giving the person a filled-out card, have that person write the date and time of the next appointment, take responsibility for what they just did, make a commitment to it. And now they're going to live up to it because it's their commitment.
[01:11:53] Jordan Harbinger: My dentist used to have us fill it out and then sign it. And I thought, "I'm keeping it. I don't need to sign it." And he'd go, "No, you got to put your name on there so that you know it's not for your mom." And I would go, "Oh, okay. That makes sense." But now I'm like, "Aah, you were definitely just getting me to commit."
[01:12:09] Robert Cialdini: He read the book.
[01:12:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. He may have read the book or maybe there's a newsletter for dentists going around where they explain how this stuff works.
[01:12:16] Robert Cialdini: True.
[01:12:16] Jordan Harbinger: It is possible. Dr. Stolberg knew what he was doing, but I don't know. I don't want to give him too much credit. I still love him. He's a great guy. Maybe he was using this on me the whole time.
[01:12:25] But asking people to remember their commitments written or otherwise will enforce the desired behavior, right? Signing codes of conduct and things like that. All these stupid things we had to do in college, write this thing down and sign it. They knew what they were doing when they had us do that. When they had us do these agreements, because it does at some level work. And whenever you see an organization that is known for, I don't want to say brainwashing, but certainly influence and persuasion, cults and things like that, or it's super strong groups of believers of any kind, there's a lot of commitment. There's a lot of writing things down. There's a lot of sharing things in a group and trying to almost compete for the most committed. And you see that in action, whether you're a POW or you're a member of a, some sort of hippie cult in the middle of the Redwood forest, right?
[01:13:12] Robert Cialdini: Right. Or even in a business meeting where you're trying to show your boss that you're on board with this. And so you make public commitments to it that will drive you to make further such commitments to it.
[01:13:28] Jordan Harbinger: What about hazing at fraternities and things like that is that the same principle, right? The Ikea effect is where we suffer through something or invest in something. And therefore, it becomes more important to us.
[01:13:39] Robert Cialdini: Yes.
[01:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: I also wonder if it's why people keep ugly tattoos. I mean, they're hard to remove, you know, once they've been tattooed on you, you don't necessarily want to just have them zapped off.
[01:13:47] Robert Cialdini: I'm not sure about that one, but I'll tell you one that explains another puzzle in exactly this way. Getting people to commit to something that is difficult, like hazing or going through some sort of strategy or device that requires a lot from them to get to the point where they are. Do you know that every year Amazon offers all of its employment, all of its people in their distribution centers and their fulfillment centers, offers them $5,000 to quit?
[01:14:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Didn't Zappos do that to offer them a couple thousand dollars after orientation if you're not feeling it or you need the money, just go kind of thing?
[01:14:28] Robert Cialdini: Right. And why would they do that? Why would they offer people who have produced great success for them? Amazon is the most successful company around. Why would they offer these trained individuals $5,000 to quit? Well, Jeff Bezos, whose idea this was, sends them a memo every year that says, "Here's $5,000 if you quit, but I don't want you to, I hope you won't." Now, in fact 97 percent do not quit. What does Bezos now have for 97 percent of that workforce? 97 percent of the people who've made an active public costly commitment to their job. And research shows that job commitment elevates performance. That's what he's doing.
[01:15:25] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. Because I can imagine if for six months in, I'm going, "I don't — oh, this is so painful. I got kind of another cool offer from somewhere else, but I gave up $5,000 to stay here and I didn't do that for no reason."
[01:15:37] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[01:15:38] Jordan Harbinger: So that would erase a lot of my will to just bounce for the next shiny object.
[01:15:42] Robert Cialdini: I must like this job. I gave up $5,000 to stay in it.
[01:15:48] Jordan Harbinger: We know if he does that with higher level executives too. Because $5,000 to somebody who makes that in four days is not going to be much, right?
[01:15:55] Robert Cialdini: No, it's his fulfillment center employees.
[01:15:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Do you think it would work with high level executives? I mean, you can always bribe them, but that's not the same thing.
[01:16:05] Robert Cialdini: Not that amount.
[01:16:06] Jordan Harbinger: No, no, no. Not with that. You'd have to add a zero to that. And even then it's kind of—
[01:16:11] Robert Cialdini: And even then.
[01:16:12] Jordan Harbinger: So do you think it would work with somebody who's making five million dollars a year if they said, "Look, we'll give you a $500,000 if you leave."
[01:16:19] Robert Cialdini: Absolutely. Not 5,000. You have to give them a reason to leave that isn't enough to get them to leave because they're making five million dollars.
[01:16:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:16:30] Robert Cialdini: So they choose not to go. And that choice is a commitment now, a public active, voluntary commitment, and people live up to those commitments as a consequence.
[01:16:43] Jordan Harbinger: It would have to be something mundane like money. Right? You can't make it too attractive. You can't say we'll give you a bunch of shares or we'll give you a super expensive sports car because somebody might actually want to think about it. It has to be something fungible. Something that's not super interesting.
[01:16:57] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[01:16:57] Jordan Harbinger: So you have to almost be an expert in ratcheting up the amount just under the point of action, under the tipping point, I guess you would say—
[01:17:06] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[01:17:07] Jordan Harbinger: —for action.
[01:17:07] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[01:17:08] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. So then what's the defense against this if somebody is trying to get us to invest in this. The awareness helps, but what else?
[01:17:15] Robert Cialdini: Well, the awareness, and then when you recognize what's been done, stop. Step back and make your decision on the merits of the choice. How much do you like this job? What are the consequences of getting $5,000 and go out on the market? Are there other jobs? Check the merits of it rather than the psychology that the person used to get you into that situation? The choice, the merits of the choice, not how you got there is the key.
[01:17:50] Jordan Harbinger: There's so much more in the book. You know, it seems like we'll never stop being exposed to influence techniques. So it makes sense that we develop an awareness of them and we know how to defend ourselves so that we can regain control and agency over our thoughts and actions.
[01:18:05] Robert Cialdini: Right.
[01:18:05] Jordan Harbinger: I wonder, is there anything I haven't asked you where you're thinking, "Oh, well, we definitely need to cover this."
[01:18:09] Robert Cialdini: You know, we've done a good job of getting us through that. I think that maybe the biggest thing is to be sure that when we act ethically in the use of these principles, we do so by pointing to the naturally occurring existence of one or another of them, true scarcity, true social proof, true authority, true liking, and so on. The key is to be, feel good about yourself in the use of these principles. You can feel both successful and ethical by pointing to them rather than fabricating or counterfeiting their presence in a situation.
[01:18:54] Jordan Harbinger: Have you found that the natural way of going about each of these principles is more powerful than the fake way? Because that's usually the case with things like this, right? It's usually the counterfeit or the knockoff is not as good as the real thing.
[01:19:08] Robert Cialdini: Exactly right. And besides you feel so much better about yourself, if you know that you can win and succeed and be influential without cheating. It's something about you then, about your traits and characteristics and skills.
[01:19:26] Jordan Harbinger: When you see these in the wild and you see them being used in disingenuous ways, what do you usually do? Do you call it out in the moment?
[01:19:34] Robert Cialdini: Well, it depends on a situation, but I will almost always go online and report what I've seen either through a rating or some sort of post.
[01:19:47] Jordan Harbinger: So you'll actually write to the company and say, "Hey, look, I was told to do this and this is a principle number, whatever, or this is on page 468 of the book Influence by Robert Cialdini." No, no connection. "And I'm telling you that this is not the right way to go about this, and you should be instead succeeding on the merits of your product. Not on creating false scarcity." You'll actually go and do something like that.
[01:20:12] Robert Cialdini: Exactly. And I'll say you should fire the advertising agency or marketing agency that arranged that message for you because you come off like a cheater.
[01:20:24] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting.
[01:20:25] Robert Cialdini: Not a good look for the long-term.
[01:20:28] Jordan Harbinger: I'm going on the fly here so I know them probably going to do this wrong, but I'm wondering, is there an underlying principle of almost authenticity that is a part of influence or is that is authenticity in amalgamation of these other principles in some way, and trustworthiness?
[01:20:42] Robert Cialdini: It's an amalgamation of using them only in situations where you inform people with them into a set, you point to true scarcity, you point to real commitments that they've already made, that are consistent with what it is that you're asking them to do and so on. But I would say there's one approach that people ask me. If you had one piece of advice, what would it be? It would be when you go into a new situation, when you don't know very much about the people that you're dealing with, expect the best from them that allows you to be generous. And the consequence of being generous, hits on three of the principles.
[01:21:28] First of all, people like you more for that. Secondly, they reciprocate the generosity with generosity of their own. And when they've done that, they've made a commitment to you as a partner. When they've given to you, when they've gone out of their way to be generous to you, they've made a decision about making a commitment to your partnership.
[01:21:55] Jordan Harbinger: Robert Cialdini, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. We'll have to have you come back and discuss some of your other work as well. I read Pre-Suasion. I loved it. I did a show on it with you a long time ago, but we did it over the phone. That's how long ago it was. We didn't have things like this. So we'll have to have you come back and do that. And maybe we'll be able to do that one in person who knows depends on—
[01:22:14] Robert Cialdini: Who knows? That would be great.
[01:22:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Thank you once again, very much for your time though. It's always so great to go back to these principles because I think a lot of people, quote-unquote, they know them because they feel them. They've seen them in the wild, but rarely do we ever break these down into discrete parts and that's really the way we're going to learn them and see them being used against us in real time.
[01:22:35] Robert Cialdini: I agree.
[01:22:36] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you very much.
[01:22:37] Robert Cialdini: I enjoyed it. You asked good questions, Jordan—
[01:22:39] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you.
[01:22:40] Robert Cialdini: —down to the center of my material. You know the core issues.
[01:22:43] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate it. Literally, I think I read Influence when I was like 14, maybe. I mean, when did it come out?
[01:22:51] Robert Cialdini: Yeah. It came out in the mid '80s.
[01:22:53] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Yeah. I still have it. It's literally got to be from 1993 or something like that. I mean, it's—
[01:22:58] Robert Cialdini: That warms my heart, I have to say.
[01:23:00] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you for writing it and thank you for spending so much time with us here. I'm going to link it in the show notes, the book. Thank you very much.
[01:23:09] I've got some thoughts on this episode as usual, but before I get into that, here's a preview of my conversation with Austin Meyer. He's a software developer who exposes patent trolls and how they shake down innocent victims using legal loopholes and abuse of the system.
[01:23:24] Austin Meyer: I was working at a trade show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where I was sitting there in a sweltering, hot aircraft hangar, showing X-Plane, my flight simulator, to a steady parade of sweaty pilots, wandering through the hangar to look at my various wares, and all of a sudden, the phone rings.
[01:23:40] Hello. I noticed you've been sued for patent infringement. Are you happy to represent you for a price?
[01:23:46] And I said, no, I'm not going to settle with somebody I've never even heard of before for infringing on a supposed patent I've never heard of before.
[01:23:53] He said, okay, just remember your defense cost is going to run around three million dollars.
[01:23:57] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[01:23:59] Austin Meyer: The patent claims to own the idea of one computer checking another computer to see if the computer program is allowed to run. The patent we were sued on had, as I recall, 113 claims and every claim was almost the same. In other words, one claim would say a computer accessing another computer to unlock software. And the next thing would be software unlocked by one computer accessing another computer.
[01:24:23] Notice it's just the same thing over and over 113 times, phrased a little bit differently each time, because since it took us four years and two million dollars to overturn one of those sentences, they had the same thing written down 112 more times. So they could put us through this for the rest of our lives.
[01:24:41] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Austin Meyer, including the details of his own investigation into patent trolls and why none of us are safe, check out episode 326 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:24:53] I hope you enjoyed it. This episode was awesome for me to create. I read this book in the '90s. It's been, life-changing everything you have heard is in use against you at all times, by marketers, by governments, by propagandists, by the media, by people trying to sell you stuff, by people like me, trying to give you free stuff. Like my networking course, we're all using this stuff. So the more you understand it, the better off you are in the defenses against people doing this and using it in nefarious ways are extremely useful. There is way more in the book, of course. This is like a 20-hour audiobook. A normal sized book by the way is like eight hours if you don't do audio. So this thing is a beast. I thought this was going to be a two-part show, but producer Jason edited mercilessly.
[01:25:35] There's some interesting anecdotes from the book as well. For example, we will vote for somebody whose face is modified in Photoshop to look more like us. Obviously, it's a scientific test, but imagine thinking that someone is more qualified because they look more like us, just think about the average person in this country or anywhere. Just imagine that they think people who look more like them are more qualified. I'm just going to leave that there. Also the concept of loss aversion and scarcity. This is a game changer for people who are selling, are in sales, are buying too much stuff and don't want to do it anymore. We're more motivated to stop ourselves from losing something as opposed to having motivation to gain something.
[01:26:12] Daniel Kahneman talks a lot about this. He's coming on the show as well. People are willing to spend big in order to avoid losing something. This is a fascinator in concept. It's just a little teaser of what's in the book. I want you to go and check that out. Also, you're all familiar with the concept of scarcity, right? There's only two left. Buy now. Here's a counter that's showing you when this deal ends. Everyone's familiar with this. There's false scarcity in pretty much every business deal that you see advertised anywhere. This week only, Friday only, until 11:00 a.m. only. Sometimes it's real, usually it's false. And this is a concept that when you start to realize that this is being employed against you, it just takes away all of the anxiety that is being trained into you by marketers and by media, and the defense against scarcity.
[01:26:57] And he goes into this in the book as well, is to note that arousal, right? That anxiety that says, "Oh, no, this is only good for a week or this expires sooner. They're not going to give me this deal later." And then ask yourself, why do I really want this? Do I want the item or the service for the function? Or do I want it just to have it because I feel loss aversion, like maybe I won't be able to get this later because of the scarcity, real or otherwise, that is being employed against us. Remember, things aren't necessarily better because they're less available. Things are not necessarily better because they are less available.
[01:27:30] Although tell that to my kid and my cat. This must be why my kid, my cat, they cry when they want something or want to take something away. And then they stop caring the second that I give them the thing that they wanted. And all parents know this intuitively as well. If you need an illustration of this concept in action, just take something away from your kid and then give it back to him. He won't care five second, not even five seconds later. Maybe it's just my kid, but I'm pretty sure it's not.
[01:27:54] Thanks to Bob Cialdini. The book title is Influence. You can find it everywhere. Again, I highly recommend it, no matter what your line of work is. Links to all of Robert Cialdini stuff's going to be on the website in the show notes. Please do use our website links if you buy the book. Yes, the links work in other countries. Yes. Buying the books helps support the show. Yes. I know you think everybody uses our links and so you don't need to, but that's what everybody thinks. And people tell me all the time, "I bought the books, but I didn't use your links. I'm just one person out of many, right?" It's that collective action problem. Please do use those links. Worksheets for the episode in the show notes. Transcripts for the episode in the show notes. There's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:28:37] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course and/or contributed to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong. Did you notice all the influence techniques at work there?
[01:29:00] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. And my amazing team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know anybody who's interested in marketing, sales, psychology, social psychology, interaction, influence, persuasion, absolutely share this with them. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode of the show. So please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:29:40] This episode of the show was sponsored in part by Podbean. Podbean is a podcast hosting platform with all the features you need to start a podcast, to promote your podcast, monetize your podcast. I enjoy the analytic features. They've got a simple UI and security reliability. Over 520,000 podcasters, trust them as well. It's one of the major hosts out there. Podbean podcast hosting distributes your podcast to all major destinations. You can compare episode performance, see the download source breakdown to understand where the audience is listening, see what day and times they're listening is. You can even check out where they're listening from not just countries, but also US States that they are listening from. So Podbean also provides a full array of podcast monetization tools. You can monetize your podcast by using Podbean's built-in dynamic advertising system or the patron program. You can also create fully customizable websites using their platform as well. I know so many of you are probably thinking about starting a podcast this year or next, make the commitment real head over to podbean.com and give Podbean a shot. And if you're a current podcaster who's outgrown your free and basic hosting provider, I suggest you get an upgrade. Go to podbean.com/jordan. That's pod-bean, like B-E-A-N.com/jordan.
[01:30:54] And a special thanks to Hyundai for sponsoring this episode.
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