"To people with success, you better listen," says Dr Robert Cialdini. This man, professor of marketing and psychology, gained world fame with his bestseller 'Influence' and is the world's most quoted psychologist in the field of persuasion and influence. Below, we explain Cialdini's principles of influence.

I like you, you like me too?

If people like you, they are more likely to support you. But with just your charms or some dumb luck, you won't make it. 'Sympathy' is the key word. You simply prefer to work with someone you like. Only how do you get that to happen?

We like people who like us. If you understand that, you have come a long way. The sales gurus who say in courses that people have to like you if you want to sell need to scratch themselves behind the ears. It's not someone else who has to like you, you have to like the people you do business with yourself you. As a result, they are going to like you faster too.

Tupperware parties are a great example of the sympathy principle. Do you know them? That's such a woman thing. A cosy evening drinking coffee and chatting with a friend, neighbour or your aunt (the hostess), while a Tupperware consultant explains the products. So at such a party, people sell like crazy. Not because they need that Tupperware stuff, but because they like the hostess so much.

You can't fake sympathy

You can't fake liking another person, thankfully. It has to be real. If you don't like someone, the other person senses it. But... you can start liking that person. Just go out of your way to do so!

Top car salesman Joe Girard says he went out of his way to genuinely like his customers. And he then let them know that. Regardless of sales or success, we should try our best to like another person anyway.

Looking a little beyond your nose and immersing yourself in others just makes the day more enjoyable. You cannot force other people to like you, but you can enrich yourself by appreciating the people around you.

The ins & outs of the sympathy principle

That whole sympathy thing is not so simple. And yet, of course, it is. In any case, Cialdini has formulated six aspects of the sympathy principle and they are quite plausible.

  1. People who compliment us are more likely to like us. "We are tremendous suckers for flattering."

  2. If you have something in common with another person, you are also more likely to like that person. It creates a bond if you both like cooking.

  3. We like handsome people faster than less handsome people. Physically attractive people we mean. Subconsciously often, though.

  4. The more contact we have with someone, the sooner we start to like that person. And vice versa, of course.

  5. People we work with are more likely to be liked than someone we compete with. Sharing things together (e.g. a common goal) is also nice of course.

  6. Determined associations with a person, influence whether you like someone or not.

Does online liking make us more fun?

We all know the principle of 'liking' on Facebook and other social media, it is the first aspect of the liking principle in practice. With the like button, you compliment the other person, so to speak. And well, we are tremendous suckers for flattering....

Liking on the internet makes it easier to give another person a token of appreciation. The people who like your posts subsequently start liking you a bit more. At least, if you apply Cialdini's sympathy principle to it.

It's in us, we are quite motivated to give each other compliments. Only, in the Netherlands that is sometimes a bit not done. Just act normal and you'll be crazy enough. But perhaps the threshold is lower online and we like each other more and more. Nice development, isn't it?

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