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The Nine Laws of Persuasion

Tristan Loo

There are nine distinct laws of persuasion that govern the human decision-making process. While these laws of persuasion do not universally apply to everyone, they do apply to the greater majority of people that you will encounter. To become a great persuader and to influence people with your communication, you will need to master these nine laws of persuasion.

Persuasion Law #1: The Law of Scarcity
The law of scarcity states that when a person perceives that something or someone they want is in limited quantity, then the perceived value of that which they desire is greater than if it were overly abundant.

Example: If I went to a party with my girlfriend and she picked up an interest in talking to other guys there instead of me, then my interest and perceived value in my girlfriend would increase dramatically because of the implied scarcity that I have attached to her.

Persuasion Law #2: The Law of Reciprocity
The law of reciprocity states that if a person gives another person something or performs a service of perceived value, then that other person will be so inclined as to give something back of equal value.

Example: If my neighbors invited me over to their house for dinner, then I would be inclined to return the favor by inviting them out to dinner at a later time.

Persuasion Law #3: The Law of Association
The law of association states that people are more likely to accept, try, purchase, or like things which are endorsed by other people we like or have respect for.

Example: Commercial producers always want to use high profile celebrities to endorse their products or services because the majority of the public will associate the celebrity's popularity with that product and boost sales.

Persuasion Law #4: The Law of Contrast
The law of contrast states that when two items or people are different from each other, we tend to see them as even more different if they are placed close together.

Example: I was at a major electronics retailer recently and was purchasing a laptop for $1000. After I committed myself to the purchase, the salesperson offered me an insurance policy for an additional $150 dollars. Afterall, $150 is a small amount compared to the $1000 that I just put down. Fast food restaurants use the same tactic of contrast when they ask you if you want to "super size" your meal for only a buck extra.

Persuasion Law #5: The Law of Expectancy
The law of expectancy states that when a person whom you respect expects you to produce a certain result, then you will tend to work towards fulfilling that expectation, whether the end result is positive or negative.

Example: There was a case that I remember in a hospital where an outpatient was being treated for a minor, non-life threatening ailment, and somehow the patient charts were switched on the poor guy. The doctor came in and looked at the charts and told the otherwise healthy patient that at best he only had a day to live. That guy died the next day.

Persuasion Law #6: The Law of Consistency
The law of consistency states that when an individual announces, either verbally or in writing, that they are taking a position on an issue, then that person will strongly defend that position regardless of its validity or even in the face of overwhelming evidence against it.

Example: When former President Clinton denied that he had "sexual relations" with white house intern Monica Lewinsky, he aggressively defended it despite the fact that the majority of Americans were convinced he had cheated on the first lady and should just own up to it.

Persuasion Law #7: The Law of Power
People who are perceived to have greater strength, fame, expertise, or authority have power over other people who accept this perception of that person.

Example: A doctor has a great amount of perceived power over a patient because of their extensive training. Their word is usually gospel.

Persuasion Law #8: The Law of Friends
The law of friends states that when someone you trust or like asks you to do something, you are strongly motivated to fulfill that request.

Example: If an attractive girl asked a single and available guy for a favor, then that guy would be strongly motivated to fulfill her request.

Persuasion Law #9: The Law of Conformity
The law of conformity states that an individual is more likely to agree to proposals that are well received by the majority of other people in their group.

Example: At a company meeting the CEO asks for a show of hands who likes the new idea. Approximately 85% of the meeting participants raise their hands. John Doe also raises his hand, not because he liked the idea, but because he felt the pressure to conform with the majority of the group.

Tristan Loo is the Founder of the Synergy Institute, a Personal Development Firm based out of San Diego. Tristan is a former police officer, personal development coach, conflict negotiator, and author. Visit the Synergy Institute Website.

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