Week Two: ‘Pre-Suasion’ by Robert Cialdini

This is Week Two of the #CEOChallenge – to read 52 books in a year – follow along for weekly insights into some of today’s most influential books. Enjoy!

Tom Riddle[approaching Slughorn] I was in the library the other day, in the Restricted Section, and I read something rather odd about a bit of rare magic. It’s called, as I understand it… Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini.

Robert Cialdini’s latest book, Pre-Suasion, is much similar to something straight out of the restricted section of the Hogwarts library. Cialdini unveil’s the psychological cues used by skilled salespeople, organizations, and retail stores to influence you before they have even shown you what they are selling.

 WARNING: Cialdini issues many times the need for an ethical understanding of these practices. He says, “Just because we can use psychological tactics to gain consent doesn’t mean we are entitled to them” (11).

This said I am here to present three tools Cialdini provides for his readers to use – at their risk – to ‘pre-suade’ their potential buyer. (Those who aren’t selling, these are three tools to be aware of when shopping).

  1. Elevate Attention at the Time of Decision:
    1. Not many people enjoy doing surveys, in fact, only 29% of people respond positively to filling out a survey but, if prompted with the phrase, ‘Do you consider yourself a helpful person?”, the response rate shot up to 79.3%. This is tempting, but you must be aware of the potentials for deviousness.
  2. Prompt the Unconcious Bias:
    1. Like the first point, those most likely to partake in a new experiment are more likely to when prompted with the question, “Are you an adventurous person?”. We all like to think we are adventurous when asked, though its unlikely we all are. This understanding of the unconscious bias has been used to manipulate people into joining cults. Cult evangelists would entice new recruits by using the phrase, “Are you unhappy with your life?”, prompting thoughts of unsettlement and a desire for a ‘better life’. This can be a useful tool for drawing more attention to your survey or getting your friends to pitch in for repairing your community sidewalk, but equally can be used to lure and manipulate people. Be careful, and ethical.
  3. Frequent Non-abrasive Advertisement:
    1. When you browse the internet it is likely you have come across the same advertisement multiple times – that is, if you don’t have Ad-Blocker. Though it may seem frequent, you likely (a) have been slowly subjected to it over time; (b) have grown to be more accepting of its message. The frequency of information can subject us easily to admiring its appeal. Be conscious of the advertisements on blogs – including mine (which I have no say over) –  as they are sent with frequency to slowly influence you to their comforting allure.

It is easy to be skeptical of everything, but there is not a need to be; rather, be cautious of your ability to make choices, “Buyer’s beware” is still a needed reminder.

Remember this, “Influence [is not] just what to say to persuade but also when best to say it” (12).

See you next week,




2 thoughts on “Week Two: ‘Pre-Suasion’ by Robert Cialdini

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