How to Influence Others?

One of the most common principles of human culture is the principle of reciprocity. It simply states that a person is obliged to return what he has received from others. The second person therefore is morally obliged to give back and repay you for what has been given. This means that you can give to others, knowing that it will be reciprocated.

All the members of society from an early age they learn to respect this rule, fearing condemnation and disapproval of society. If this principle is put into a business context, it simply means that if you give someone something, we can later ask for something in return.

Robert Cialdini, a respected international expert in the area of influence, persuasion and negotiation, formulated after years of research six principles of influence, which one of them is the principle of reciprocity.

In the business environment, this principle extensively exploited by offering free samples, free consultation, extensive test drives, etc.

A characteristic feature of the principle of reciprocity is that it often encourages unequal exchange. People do not want to feel obligated to others so often even surpass the requirements and services than those they received themselves. Cialdini’s research shows that it not only increases the likelihood that the person consents to a disproportionate requirement, but as well agrees on future requirements.

Cialdini has demonstrated the power of this principle by conducting an experiment in which passers-by were stopped and asked whether they had the capacity of volunteering to take young offenders on a day trip to the zoo. Only 17% of interviewed persons responded positively to this request. After that another group of respondent got intercepted and approached with even greater application to volunteer work as consultants for young offenders for two hours a week over the next two years. Not surprisingly, all respondents in the second group refused this request. At this point Cialdini made a concession and asked if they would at least agree on taking the young offenders to the zoo on a day trip.

This request had a dramatic impact on the commitment by the participants and the number of those who agreed to it tripled, to about 50%.

Remember that people feel obliged to render small services or benefits that you provide them, but will not necessarily be aware of why. The more often you are in a position to incorporate this principle in your work, the more interlocutors will agree or react positively to your demands.

At our negotiation skills training we have those techniques and tools of influence included in our curriculum. It is necessary to point out that the use of those techniques, if it is deprived of good intentions, falls into the category of manipulation and using it for such purpose it’s not allowed. But if we work according to honest principles of good business and we aim it for exclusively towards a win-win outcome in our relations both with clients and with colleagues with whom we work, the use of these techniques can be accelerated towards great business outcomes for both sides. Also by adopting and ackknowledging these techniques allows us to adequately defend ourselves when we find us in situations where we are the object of conscious or unconscious influence of a third party.

Among reciprocity, we cover in the training process as well other five techniques of influence:


It is also interesting that the influence techniques can be combined, and that a combination of different tools in a particular case increases the power of influence exponentially.

When you adopt this technique, you will begin to notice how many times you were under different advertent or inadvertent influence either by co-worker, family members, media, public figures, friends …

If you want to become more familiar with new techniques, and adopt other necessary skills in the negotiation process, the opportunity for it is in our negotiation skills trainings .

At last but not least do not forget, it is a thin line between manipulation and good intentions aimed at a win-win outcome. Make sure that you do not cross the line!


Mario Buljan