Taking steps and hiring a professional career counselor truly works! But in the quest for improving career and life prospects are there shortcuts? Do techniques exist which we can employ to steer success towards us?

Step forward Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D. Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing, and author of the massively successful book, “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion!”

Cialdini’s book cites 6 weapons of influence.

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment and Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Liking
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

Learning them can help you side-step a lot of advertising and political nonsense. Mastering them helps with everything from confidence training to marketing.

These 6 factors are the result of over 60 years of social experiments. Individually they reap results but used collectively they can multiply the outcome. Little wonder these technique’s are used in everything from television advertising to door to door salesmen and cold-calling.

Let’s take a closer look Robert B Cialdini’s 6 weapons of influence:

1. Reciprocity

We all reciprocate. If we both have candy and I give you one of mine I would hope you give me one of yours in return.
Likewise during the holidays if you send a card it’s a good bet I’ll return the favour.

In the world of influence and persuasion reciprocity is still about give and take, – only we’re given something in a deliberate strategy to compel us to give back.

For example, a waiter giving you a token gift before you pay will increase the value of the tip. More than that, if a gift is given and the waiter pauses to leave (or take a step or two away from the table) only to pause and quickly return to deliver another gift – along with a COMPLIMENT – then this makes the diner feel more special – and the resulting tip will likely be MUCH higher. A simple psychology used by organizations around the world. It can work on a personal level too.

The keys for reciprocity works is be FIRST TO GIVE and make it PERSONALIZED and UNEXPECTED.

REMEMBER: It’s not WHAT is given but HOW it’s given.

One example often cited online compares how two cities reacted differently to the prominent placement of a road traffic sign. Both would receive one and for many it was going to be an eyesore. So it came as no surprise when one city said NO outright. But the other City – primed with good will messages and a free window sticker IN ADVANCE- felt compelled to allow it.

2. Commitment and Consistency

People stand by their opinions, promises and believes – and by what they say too and (especially) put into writing too.
If a person makes a commitment it’s more likely they will act on this agreement and see things through.

In his book Cialdini cites a great example – a social experiment involving a thief pinching a radio from a New York beach!

A beach towel was laid down on the sand some 6 foot away from a variety of test subjects and an actor played the role of the thief. As you can guess, the public generally did NOT intervene when the thief made his move and pinched the radio, – however if they had been primed in advance by a strangers request “please look after my stuff for a moment” the results were quite the opposite. People would take a risk if they had made a commitment.

Making a commitment means being consistent with it. The influence aspect is about looking for voluntary, active or public commitment. Or all three!

In a social situation consistency would be less about asking somebody to say yes to coming to a party- and more about having them reply to you in writing, – in an email for example – they will be much more likely to stand by their conviction.

3. Social Proof

Social Proof is the consensus of how we “go with the flow” – especially when we are uncertain – which is important to remember.

“If you can’t convince them confuse them” said President Harry S. Truman (in regard to an opponent’s behavior). Humans like to follow other people’s actions. We take comfort in numbers and crave mental instruction far more than we realizeor care to admit.

We’re so easily influenced.

During the second world war, when pork and beef were being shipped overseas to feed soldiers and stocks were running low, the government decided NOT to inform the public – rather they would offer up a healthy alternative and focus their media/propaganda on that. And so it was that eating hearts, livers, and kidneys became a mainstream part of UK dining – Animal organs went from being a poor persons food to a patriotic food as people were NUDGED to know and act accordingly- and all without revealing the truth. Food for thought indeed.

People look to the actions of others to determine their own – consider a television comedy show chalk-full of “canned laughter” – as if the viewer needs to be TOLD when a situation is funny. The funny thing is though – it seems to work.

As we look towards data to make sense of the world – it’s essential to realize that information streams mean different things to everybody.

Even so. The saying “8 out of 10 cats prefer..” does spring to mind.

4. Liking

The fourth of the science of persuasion influence tips is Liking.
It may seem a little obvious but psychology research proposes we like people who are similar to us, who pay compliments to us and who (at least appear) to cooperate with us, which implies we should really get to know one another BEFORE we get down to business.

The liking rule is easily open to manipulation. Like all the rules it has a force for good and for bad. Think of famous actors publicly backing a politician – they are using their fame and familiar likability to sway opinion.

In the social world there is no doubt that being Liked is essential. How are you or your organization perceived? What can you do to improve things?

5. Authority

People trust credible experts and positions of power.
A doctor or policeman’s uniform has an almost hypnotic effect on us – what they say has more weight on our conscious by the nature of their occupation.

Online authority may take the form of testimonials, awards and web certificates. All designed to give a visitor the right first-impression.

Looking the part can mean faking it to you make it.


  • A solo web business creates email addresses for technical, sales and private purposes – giving the business 3 addresses and the illusion of size.
  • The Hypnotherapist with his award certificates displayed prominently in the waiting rooms- to bolster client confidence. And perhaps his own too!

We are also swayed by friends and associates if THEY tell us of a person’s authority/profession.

In your search for career success consider YOUR authority. What do you actively do which is good for your chosen career profession?

6. Scarcity

People want MORE of what they can have LESS of. Simple. – and perceived limitability enhances desire.


  • An organization warning it has to limit some service – only for this information to cause demand to escalate dramatically.
  • A UK comic publisher threatens to kill a much-loved comic character due to lack of interest when in fact they’re actually running a promotional campaign to gear up for an upcoming cartoon anniversary.

To summarize, scarcity it’s about telling people:

The BENEFITS – (for the comic it would be the continuation of the “much loved” character, which is implied indirectly)
What’s UNIQUE – (the birthday was upcoming which created pathos)
What They Stand to LOSE – (in our example the beloved comic book character)

Scarcity is massive in the world of marketing – with limited time offers a particular favorite.

Remember those 6 Weapons of Influence!

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social Proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

When it comes to career advice, good job tips are useful. May these ideas prompt you onward and upward.

All the best and good luck!

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