Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade Summary


How To Build Trust When You Have None

Undertake a small trusting activity. Robert references a tactic that was used by a fire alarm salesperson named Jim. Jim would purposefully ‘screw up’ when delivering his sales pitch. The pitch included a test that the homeowners would need to take. During the test, Jim would slap his forehead and announced that he forgot a crucial bit of information—the accompanying book. He requested that the owners stay and do the test while he let himself in and out of the house to retrieve the book. Most complied in this small display of trust. And that is it. Because he supplanted that he was trusting, he had greater success closing the sale. —19 min

Framing/Anchoring/Priming/Opening/Focussed Attention

Focussed attention is when the subject is given a suggested image and immediately finds evidence from memory to validate this suggestion. We are more likely to find evidence than find misses.

Do You Consider Yourself To Be A …

Sales people in supermarkets often had success with the phrase, “do you consider yourself to be a helpful person,” in place of the standard, “could I borrow a few minutes of your time?”

Consider using the question template to get the person thinking about themselves as this desirable characteristic. This activates a commitment to consistency. You

Eg. Do you consider yourself to be an adventurous person? A company with a new soft drink asked this question. Response rates climbed to 75% when this technique was used as opposed to 29% when it wasn’t.

→ Consider using this in your outreach with schools and CRTs. What’s the desirable thing you want your responder to imagine?

We Can Only Focus On One Track At A Time

Much like when we listen to a single track of an album, we can only focus our attention on a single track of information. If we were to listen to multiple tracks it would just be noise.

We can ‘multitask’ but it really means that we keep switching between tracks moment to moment. The cost of this is a momentary dead spot of attention where we need to change track.

Nothing in life is more important than the thing you’re thinking about right now.

The media is exceptional at telling us what to think about. Though, they aren’t great at telling us what to think.

The Power of Sex and Fear

Fear and reproduction are two driving forces of our human existence. We must avert danger and be attracted to others to reproduce.

Cialdini mentions two opposing modes of operation when it comes to our behaviour that acts with these forces: the desire to stand out in order to attract a mate; the desire to belong in the safety of the group.

The force of sex is most potent when we are primed with an opener to stand out. Also, it only works for items that we perceive will generally give us an edge to stand out such as fragrances and clothing and not for appliances and technology.

Similarly, we turn to the safety of the group in the face of danger or threat. Cialdini mentions that advertisements have a potency when aired with content that primes their audience. For instance, if you air a commercial during a horror movie, which induces fear, then you are more open to a product or service that garners a sense of belonging or safety as part of the group. I’m thinking security systems, gym membership: be part of this community.

Dread Risks

People modify their behaviour based on some kind of catastrophic event like people not flying after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Instead, they opted to travel by car. Automobile accidents and deaths increased significantly as a result of this. Similar behaviour was identified for London Tube patrons who turned to the more treacherous bike travel around London.

When The Context Changes: The Orienting Response

Walking through a doorway encourages you to forget what you were thinking about as your context has changed. The reason for this is that your awareness is now focused on the new environment and receiving information from this place.

Zak George’s Dog Training YouTube channel videos capture this when he demonstrates that we must retrain dogs with the same cues but in different environments at the new environments cause distraction. We’re always competing with what’s new, shiny and exciting.

Use Case: When positioning your product or service against others, it’s useful to stand out against your competitors. In others words, make it novel. Be the colour amongst the black and white or the whitespace amongst the noise.


When we speak to our audience directly, we have a more persuasive message. The audience is likely to listen to us if our arguments are backed by sound evidence or tugging our heartstrings depending on the audience.

Use the second-person pronoun, you, as you speak to your audience.

What Remains Unfinished Remains…Sticky

Two important takeaways from this chapter: what is unfinished to us is more memorable as we are giving it more attention in memory. Also, we remember content better when we are interrupted as there is an unpleasant nagging sensation that we yearn to completion and closure.

We feel discomfort as we are disrupted or interrupted from completing a task and a strong desire to get back to it. This speaks volumes to me and my ways of operation.

In the next chapter, this longing for completeness and closure can be used for great effect through presenting mysteries.

Writing Tip: When going about difficult work, it’s useful to leave your work unfinished so that you can pick up the thread at a later time. For example, Ernst Hemingway suggests leaving your writing for the day mid-sentence so that you can regain your train of thought and press on the following day.

The Mysterious

In this chapter, Cialdini speaks to the allure of mysteries and hooks. I employ this technique in my YouTube videos where you pose a question to hook in your audience. But you can genuinely present mysteries.

He mentioned around 6 items that we can employ to share mysteries. This would be useful to structure a lesson with kids.

  1. Present the mystery.
  2. Deepen the mystery.
  3. TODO
  4. TODO
  5. TODO
  6. TODO

Thinking Is Linking

Language is primarily a mechanism of influence as a means for inducing recipients to share a perception or at least act in accordance with it.

  • Achievement based language like win, attain, succeed and master significantly improves the performance of employees and students on a task and doubles their willingness to keep working on it.
  • The power of metaphors and how a a single word can impact our perception of the message. For Instance, referring to something a beast or a virus results in different modes of action taking.

Persuasive Geographies

A reference to James Clear and priming one’s environment to activate the set of instructions you wish to execute.

Cialdini speaks to the importance of the environment in which we work to cue us for productivity. The author wrote better content in his home office than he did while at his academic office. While at his academic office, he wrote for an academic audience. While at home, he wrote for the public.

When writing or performing a task intended for others, place yourself amongst their world so that you can prepare for content that matches their experience.

What’s Already In Us: Top 3 Activities That Cultivate Happiness

  1. Expressing and writing gratitude each day.
  2. Choosing to see the positive benefits of a situation.
  3. Don’t focus on problems.

What’s Already in Them

Women in mixed classrooms perform worse on stem tests than when in a single gender classroom of the same gender.

Girls who are exposed to teachers of the same gender in the stem discipline complete more questions including complex questions because they have seen someone like them overcome the adversity.

Focus your attention on pre-suasive accomplishments rather than pre-suasive deficiencies to set yourself up with visions of success.

Reading and Waiting

  • Playing a violent game in a cooperative manner such as defeating a common enemy decreases later aggression.
  • Find a concept already associated strongly and positively with the action and bring that concept to mind in potential helpers just before requesting their aid.
  • Create a connection from scratch. Using a celebrity, a good looking model and link it to the product with nothing more than a simultaneous presence inside the ad. Connection between Brad Pitt and gilette. The connection with the celebrity will transfer to a link with the product.

Gapping the Mind

A list of conditions that enable for your results in compliance. Interviews that yield false confessions from suspects average 16 hours.

Conditions: fatigue, rushed, overloaded, preoccupied, indifferent, stressed, distracted or a conspiracy theorist.

Six Main Roads to Change

  • If want want them to buy and expensive box of chocolates, we get the person to write down a high number first.
  • If we want them to purchase a bottle of French wine, we can expose them to background French music before they decide.
  • If we want them to try an untested product, we can first inquire to see if they consider themselves adventurous.
  • If we want them to select a highly popular item, we can begin by sharing them a scary movie. Why strength in numbers.
  • If we want them to feel warmly to us, we can hand them a hot drink. → Parent interviews.
  • If we want them to feel more helpful toward us, we can show them photos of individuals standing together.
  • If we want them to be more achievement oriented, we can hand them a photo of a runner winning a race.
  • If we want them to make careful assessments, we can show them images of a contemplative individual.

The Roads Oft Taken

Social proof removes doubt of uncertainty of achievement because we’ve seen similar others do it so we think that we can as well.

Prayer as a way to strengthen bonds between people in relationships. Pray for the well-being of the other. For any action you take is in the interests of being consistent with your wish for well-being.

System Engineering

Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung. Voltaire

If you can’t make your case to an audience with facts, sing it to them.

So interesting because in a classroom we have a balance of students who are more responsive to facts and others who are more responsive to music and arts.


When we ask for advice, we’re really looking for an accomplice and that’s usually what we get. — Robert Cialdini, Pre-suasion

The Triple-Tumor of Structural Organisational Dishonesty

The three consequences to employing deceptive persuasion include high-employee turnover, high-employee dissatisfaction and stress and high employee theft.

Creating Lasting Change by Cueing up the Cues

We must become interior designers and furniture environments directors in the way we want to be directed. In other words, we must cue our environments pre-suasively.

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