How can you be persuasive? Be likable!

I’m continuing my analysis of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert Cialdini and what it means for community organizers.

Sometimes you don’t need a Ph.D. to tell you this stuff. In chapter 5 he makes a basic point: people are more likely to say “yes” to people they like.

So, the first organizing lesson from this chapter is simple: don’t be a jerk.

Those are the basics. Thankfully there’s more.

For example, Cialdini talks about the role that attractiveness plays in liking. Simply put, we’re more likely to say “yes” to someone who we find attractive.

I guess we didn’t need a Ph.D. to tell us that either. I saw it when I canvassed for U.S. PIRG and the women talked about how they raised more money when they wore low-cut tops.

Cialdini also identifies similarity as a factor. We tend to like people who are more like us. Again, no surprise here. That’s why “like organizes like.” If you want to organize Catholics, send a Catholic. If you wnat to organize restraunt workers, a restaurant worker will be most successful.

What else contributes to liking? There’s also compliments. As my friend Jamie Browning says, “flattery will get you everywhere.”

These are the simple parts, Cialdini also describes more subtle factors, like conditioning and association. That is, people tend to like things associated with other things they like. Hence the scantily clad models in beer comercials. At a subconscious level, there is an association of “scantily clad women are good, so the beer must be good as well.” It seems silly, but it works.

There’s one more part of liking the Cialdini references, contact and cooperation, but that one is interesting enough to be worth it’s own post.

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