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Mastering the World of Selling: The Ultimate Training Resource from the Biggest Names in Sales by David Riklan, Erik Taylor

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Chapter 13. The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini

Influence at Work

Why is the psychology of persuasion an important concept for salespeople and managers to understand?

Just saying "I'm the boss" doesn't work in a world where cross-functional teams, joint ventures, and intercompany partnerships have blurred the lines of authority. In such an environment, persuasion skills exert far more influence over others' behavior than formal power structures do. Influence is best exerted horizontally, not vertically. We all need to be influencers at some point or another, no matter what position we occupy in a company.

What is the difference between persuasion and manipulation?

Manipulation involves the unethical use of the principles of persuasion, and some of those involve brute force or coercion to achieve a goal. Persuasion involves the use of principles that exist in the situation and that allow us to inform people into yes, to educate them into yes, by giving them a view of reality as we see it. It involves moving them in a direction that we desire, on the basis of valid information.

American culture likes to celebrate the hero who fights authority, the individual who bucks a crooked system. Are all the scandals over the past few years, from Enron to Tyco to now AIG, proving that managers often still go along with what an authority figure says, even when they feel uneasy about it?

I'm not sure the managers and employees know that what they are doing is wrong really. When an authority ...

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