Book Review: Influence

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“In fact, automatic, stereotyped behavior is prevalent in much of human action, because in many cases it is the most efficient form of behaving, and in other cases it is simply necessary. You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment, easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed on this planet. To deal with it, we need shortcuts. We can’t be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day. We haven’t the time, energy, or capacity for it. Instead, we must very often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond mindlessly when one or another of these trigger features is present.”

Robert Cialdini’s books had been on my iBooks shelf for awhile before I finally got to it, and this is the kind of book lazy people probably don’t finish — it’s filled with lots of information we routinely label as “common sense”. Thing is, a lot of these “common sense” things we label can only appear to be so after they are brought to our conscious line of thought.

And that is exactly what Influence does. Cialdini brings to the forefront the automatic thinking patterns us humans have, patterns that have been hard-wired into us over the years and allow us to keep up, physically and mentally, with the ever-increasing speed fo life and the myriad of information that swirls around us as life and the world advances.

A lot of Influence calls on examples from salespeople and the business world. Cialdini explores how the tools of influence are used to separate us from money in good ways (small charitable donations, for example) and bad ways (counterfeit schemes and slimy sales tactics used everywhere from the used car lot to street beggars).

Influence is not a book for the casual reader; it’s longer than the average book you’ll see on my reading list and it’s not big on laughs or use-this-trick-right-now money-making insights. But it is well written and informative.


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