Tag Archives: Influence

Pre-suasion: Unity is about we and me

brianBrian Ahearn is one of my favorite writers because his message is so clear and relevant. This guest post addresses Unity, one of Cialdini’s seven principles of influence. Read Brian’s story to the end. It’s quite moving.

My father is a Marine. He served from 1962-1967, having done a couple of tours in Vietnam. You might be thinking, “No, he was a Marine,” but you’d be wrong. If you’ve ever met anyone who served in that branch they always say, “I am,” not, “I was,” because they’re Marines for life.

Something I’ve always noticed about my father is this; when he meets another Marine, particularly one who has seen combat, you’d think he was closer to them than me, his own flesh and blood. My father wrote about his Marine experience and opened with this:

“Once while with friends, I was asked the most significant thing I had ever done in my life. My answer was quick and to the point, ‘Being a Marine and leading men in combat!’ My wife Jo, whom I dearly love, looked sad. I then said, ‘Marrying you was the second best.’”

His experience is a perfect example of Robert Cialdini’s seventh principle of influence – unity. Unity, a recent addition to Cialdini’s long-standing six principles of influence, goes well beyond the principle of liking.

Liking tells us it’s easier for us to say yes to people we know and like. One way to engage liking is by referring to what you have in common with another person. Commonalities could include having the same hobbies, growing up in the same town, attending the same college, or cheering for the same sports team to name just a few.

Unity goes beyond liking because it taps into having a shared identity with another person, which is much deeper than simply having something in common. Cialdini puts it this way, “The relationships that lead people to favor another most effectively are not those that allow them to say, ‘Oh, that person is like us.’ They are ones that allow people to say, ‘Oh, that person is of us.’”

I would imagine people who attended the same college and played the same sport, even if they played at different times, feel a very strong sense of unity too. For example, in Columbus, Ohio, there’s nothing bigger than Ohio State football. If someone played ball for the Buckeyes they’re part of a lifelong brotherhood. I’m sure former players at Notre Dame, USC, Alabama and other programs feel the same way.

Other examples might include:

  • Being part of a fraternity or sorority.
  • Connecting with distant relatives.
  • Growing up in the same neighborhood.
  • Winning the same award (Grammy, Oscar, Nobel Prize).

In a sense, each of these makes you part of a certain club or class that sets you apart. When you engage another person on the level of unity it’s as if you’ve connected on liking but on steroids. It’s much more powerful because, as Cialdini writes, “We is the shared me.”

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a jock, Marine, frat boy or award winning actor/actress to connect on unity. In Pre-suasion Cialdini sites some activities that can lead to a sense of unity and that’s what we will explore next week.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer at influencePEOPLE
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is a sales trainer, coach and consultant whose specialty is applying persuasion and influence in sales and customer service situations. He is one of 20 individuals in the world who currently hold the CMCT designation. Brian’s blog, Influence PEOPLE, is followed by people in 200 countries and made the Online Psychology Degree Guide Top 30 Psychology Blogs in 2012.

The 6 Principles of a successful job search

Every day at work I see the frustration on job seekers’ faces. The job seekers are not outwardly emotional, but I know they’re struggling with a very difficult situation. Some are beyond frustrated; they’re searching for answers.


There’s a mindset job seekers need to adopt. They need to believe that, through their actions, they can positively affect their job search. To do this they need to practice the art of persuasion.

Persuasion is often used in the sales arena, but it also applies to folks who are looking for work. According to Dr. Cialdini’s, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, there are six principles of persuasion.

  1. Liking
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Social Proof
  4. Consistency
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity


Being liked means presenting a positive demeanor, despite struggling with your job search. It also means helping your fellow job seeker with their search. In other words, you practice the five tenets of giving. This will yield positive results.

I think of one job seeker who often reports to me how her fellow job seekers are doing. I’ve witnessed her giving advice to other networkers, offering to meet them at networking events, and suggesting meeting in smaller groups to enhance their networking activities.


image21When you reciprocate, you are acknowledging the help you’ve received from others. Reciprocating  persuades those who have given you help, as well as others who witness your act of reciprocation, to continue the act of giving. This is the foundation of building relationships.

Many of my former clients have reciprocated by agreeing to be a guest speaker at the networking group I facilitate. They talk about their job search and how they “landed.” Other former clients send me notice of positions their company is trying to fill.

Social Proof

Social proof is creating a strong personal online brand, which can be seen by thousands of people. Some job seekers have the misconception that posting updates 10 times a day on LinkedIn is effective social proof. It’s not. However, posting fewer quality updates is the ticket.

Social proof is becoming increasingly more important to job seekers, as employers are primarily looking for talent on LinkedIn, or Facebook and Twitter for any alarming signs. When I tell job seekers this in my workshops, some of them express looks of concern on their face. They have no social proof.

Consistency and Commitment 

Consistency and commitment is being reliable and dedicated to your job search and the search of others. This is viewed as a great trait from those who are struggling in their search, because it provides them a sense of structure.

Showing up on time for networking coffee meetings, demonstrating a friendly demeanor whenever you’re out in public, staying involved in your networkers’ efforts, and delivering the same message to your stakeholders are all examples of consistency and commitment.


imagesAuthority keeps you top of mind with employers and influential people. You influence others with your knowledge of relevant topics. The best writers, speakers, and curators know what’s trending, and they report on it in a timely manner.

People follow the advice of experts when what they’re writing, speaking, or curating is relevant to them. Therefore it’s essential that you know your audience well. Once you, as a job seeker, become known as an expert or “authority,” your words will be respected.


The less there is of something, the more desirable the object is. This doesn’t only apply to iPhones when they first hit the market. If you possess a talent that employers are hard to come by, you will persuade them because your talents are scarce.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, though. I think of job seekers who have it all; the required job-related skills, as well as emotional intelligence. The combination of these is often scarce. If you can persuade employers that you are the full package, your chances of landing a desired job are greater.

Persuasion is not a one off thing; it involves all six principles. When job seekers visualize each principle, they will be able to master them. One who wants to master Authority, for instance, must put effort into demonstrating through social media their expertise in a topic like digital marketing.

When job seekers use persuasion, they control their destiny. Their situation may seem dire, but it can be turned around. If you’re struggling with unemployment, look at the six principles and see which ones you must improve.

Photo: Flickr, bm_adverts