How to Ethically Influence Anyone With Cialdini’s 6 Weapons

To get ahead in this world, you’ve got to build successfully with others.

You choose which degree you lean on people, but if you don’t master this skill, you cannot progress. No man is an island, and networking, persuasion, and ethical influence are necessary domains you’ve got to control.

This is often thought of as bad or morally wrong. It’s neither of those things; it’s just simply how you can efficiently get what you want. If you’ve got basic moral codes, then you will perform this ethically.

Going back to the basis of sales and marketing: if you’ve ever been a marketer or salesman of any kind, (HINT: You have, no matter what, more on that later) then you know you must be completely sold on your product or selling it doesn’t feel right.

To market or promote something, you must convince yourself that it’s going to help others in some way.

If it doesn’t, why would you push it on someone in the first place?

In other words, why would you be willing to take someone’s money for something that won’t make them better? Hopefully you wouldn’t.

Now, if you said “I’m not a salesman,” earlier, or “I’ve never been much of a marketer,” I would have to fervently shake my head in disagreement.

Everyone is a salesperson or marketer, in some form of the word. Everyone has convinced, influenced, at times connived, persuaded, or enlightened another human at some point in time.


How to Ethically Influence Anyone With Cialdini’s 6 Weapons

In reality, this is all sales really is! It’s persuading someone to come your way, to listen to what you say, to buy what you’ve got. If you can’t effectively do that then you’re right, you’re not a salesperson.

You convinced that cute girl at the mall to give you her number. You influenced your parents to let you start taking your driving tests at 15. You persuaded your friends to go to the new Fast & Furious movie when they wanted to go see Jurassic Park. (Great choice)

As you can see, there’s nothing wrong with shifting someone’s position to align with your own, as long as they do it freely, it’s for their good, and you want to help them.

Check out these potent tools psychologist Cialdini originally wrote about in 1984, and how to incorporate them into your own life for the better:


1. Reciprocity: The Equality of Give & Take

See, most say that we hold what we receive for a price in high regard; we don’t often value what we get for free.

I call BS.

Our psychology is structured in a way that we cannot help but value what we get for free.

And get this: we also value those who we give something to over the rest of the lot. I’ll be making many references back to hunter-gatherer days throughout this, because these weapons contain primal desires. We’ll do a feral wrap-up at the end as well for those keen spirits.

We used to live tens of thousands of years ago in close, connected circles. We moved, hunted, picked, and collected nutritious food and water. When a spot “dried up” seasonally, we left it.

When someone killed a predator for food, we all ate. The difference between getting food or not in those times was life or death, so hoarding and preserving were out of the question.

When our tribe brought the kill home, or found some plants to eat, we were set for a day or two, and that was a reciprocal experience for us. I’m sure there was quite a fight over food at times, but when our kin saved our hides by hunting and gathering for the whole tribe, we were thankful.

“We” refers to our long line of homo habilis, neanderthalensis, and erectus, respectively.

Anyhow, bottom line – when people do us favors, we respond positively.

Even if we do others favors, we still respond to those people in the future positively. There’s a bias in our head that makes us want to “repay the favor”, however small it may have been.

This works with business, offering value first to people in friendship, and it allows people to see your view more clearly. Simply put, do something nice for someone, and you almost obligate them to return the “debt”. Use this wisely.

It’s sort of a way to get your foot in the door, when you know a relationship will be mutually beneficial between you and another.

Which brings us to the next…


2. Commitment and Consistency: Stepping Down a Slippery Slope

Have you ever walked into the grocery store to buy eggs, and you came out with milk, bread, a new candy bar, the latest energy drink and a magazine with your favorite guns/watches/cars?

Your answer is likely of course.

Don’t think that the masterful marketing schemes and product placement are the only things to blame here. Thanks to Sam Walton and E-commerce god Jeff Bezos’s genius, we make purchases based on the natural slope of a businesses funnel.

This is different.

This weapon states that once we make one decision, we’re much more inclined to go make another similar decision, even if only due to the first.

We buy more stuff because we bought the first thing. We eat another donut because we ate a first. We pay for popcorn at the movies because we already spent $500 on one ticket. (Jokes)

Humans are creatures of habit and we will rationalize making one decision because we already made one prior; strange isn’t it? We can leverage this powerful psychological shortcut by getting others to commit to something small, such as accepting the gift that we offered for reciprocation. This makes them much more likely to take more action.

Businesses use these in their funnel when they offer something free, both for reciprocity and for commitment-consistency. If you’ll just take the first step, if you just get your foot in the door, and if you just get one yes, your odds in the future are much better.

Using this ethically in business would look something like this:

– offer massive value through an e-mail opt-in

– help the person where they are and allow them to take more steps to better themselves

– show them how your unique value helps them accomplish this

You’ve now set yourself up in a position where you can sell them more stuff that will help solve their pains and make their life more incredible.

Evil, isn’t it? Knowingly helping people and yourself at the same time? Wow. Of course it’s not evil, but this is why it hinges so heavily on using these weapons with morals.


3. Social Proof: Look Around to Find the Truth


It’s a little five-letter word that we tend to look around externally for.

Reason why? That’s the safe way…

That way doesn’t hurt as bad. If you can blend in and be “normal” then you’re not going to get burned too badly. Also, the validation is in people’s actions, so if you fall in line, you can protect yourself from embarrassment and outcast.

Well, I know Wealthy Gorilla readers aren’t some blind lot to fall in and participate in the average, so let me tell you how to use this skill wisely.

Remember our homo-ancestor lineage? Well, if you did something out of the ordinary guidelines of the group, you would die. Not only die, but you might simply get killed by the leaders for endangering the others!

When being an outcast actually meant death, it was pretty hard to go your own way as an individual. Back then, individuals didn’t survive; much less thrive. You can bet personalization of character and style is an A.D. type of “fad”, and didn’t exist much back in those times.

We value others’ opinions, product reviews, personalized news, and celebrity’s stamps of approval. Leverage this one by getting the mass opinion on your side, helping others prove your case, and getting majority rule.

Approval stamps from the high and mighty reminds me of another…


4. Authority: If Mightier Than Thou; Then Decisions Weigh Heavier Than Thou

We are programmed to look up to the leaders.

What makes this so, and why have we not broken out of this yet? We’ve got the unlimited potential inside of us; all we really need to do is recognize it.

Yet and still, people look up to the leaders, the authority figures, the ones on the pedestal, people on TV, even people online. We think that they have something we don’t, or are somehow more special and important.


Either way, if you recognize that this is a powerful tool to use your own advantage, you can use it to build your own brand, to become the authority in each situation so more people will listen to what you have to say.

This will undoubtedly allow you to influence them more directly and help them get where they want to be, as you build your own strong community.

If most people are programmed to be led, why not be the leader?

It’s been shown that even if someone is presenting on a stage, a few feet higher than the rest, people are more inclined to believe what they say. Can you believe that?

Physically elevate someone and they’re more socially elevated automatically.

It’s crazy how these work, but here’s a side note:

* Heuristics – These methods to problem solving provide practical answers that may not be optimal or perfect, but are sufficient for solution of immediate goals.

By leveraging heuristics, we allow these shortcuts to do the thinking for us. Seriously, humans will go through almost any side path that allows them to avoid thinking.

Reason, again, is because we’re programmed to survive, so when it hits the fan, we can focus on digesting our food, avoiding being lunch, and finding the best tools to further our existence.


This is one of those heuristics, and another that was mentioned in the book was that high price = good. I’ve used these methods to sell more units at higher profits in my E-commerce businesses for sure. Funny how they actually work!

Always ensure that you’re also providing more value, not just slapping high prices on turds.


5. Liking: I Like You. Therefore, Here You Are…

… That’s a double entendre of: here’s my stuff, and here you are beside me…

Liking someone makes a whole different approach work. We don’t keep people around us that we don’t like for too long. Combine that weapon with a few of the others, and you can say goodbye to a lot of your money if you aren’t careful.

For instance, someone who’s an authority in your eyes (#4), who you are fond of (#5), that has taught you a mass amount and gotten you to commit to something small (#2), has a powerful recipe for draining your banking accounts.

Just recognize a few of the points of leverage that are in action, before you make a concrete decision.

Do the mental legwork before you rely on a heuristic. When others like us, they want to be around us, learn from us, and even model after our behavior. We tend to imitate what we look up to, and place that on an authority pedestal so it has even more power over us.

Before you unconsciously give power away, assess whether it’s going to serve the both of you long term, in whatever situation you find yourself in.

Not too much more to be said about liking and being influenced.


6. Scarcity: Here It Is… But Not For Long!

“This Sale Ends Today!”

“Watch This Video While It’s Up Because It Won’t Be Around For Long!”

“Buy TODAY And Get One FREE!”

You’ve seen it in action in advertising, that’s for sure. You know this on a subconscious level: what is scarce is valuable. What is abundant and plenty is not worth much.

Do you think we would start hoarding sand from the beach if suddenly sand became a precious rock, and diamonds cluttered the beaches?


High circulation of something, anything, cheapens its value, which is why we don’t want to miss out. We want what others want (social proof) we want what we can’t have (liking) and we want what is in scarce supply (scarcity).

Use scarcity in your marketing, your influence, and your persuasion of others and this key alone will bring you much success.



Now, it only becomes a matter of remembering all of these at all times, until they’re firmly planted in your subconscious mind.

Then, you can draw on them at any time and focus on which weapon of influence you’ll use for which cause.

Ethically and representing your legacy, of course.

I’ve had to state that many times because you’ve got to remember these are powerful and very influential keys that Cialdini has handed us and they must be used with caution.

Your mission? Help others get from where they are to where they want to be, help yourself along in the process, and proactively look to add value and fill people’s needs!

You May Also Like