Methods of Persuasion: How to Use Psychology to Influence Human Behavior – Nick Kolenda

Here are my comments on the book:

What are some tactics you can use to become more persuasive now? Nick Kolenda, marketing specialist and founder of, states that to become more persuasive, you need to apply the METHODS (Mold their perception, Elicit congruent attitudes, Trigger social pressure, Habituate your message, Optimize your message, Drive their momentum, Sustain their compliance) model of persuasion. This is such a comprehensive book on persuasion tactics that I’ll definitely have to read it again to better grasp the ideas behind this book as there’s just so much information. For those of you who are familiar with Charlie Munger’s 25 Cognitive Biases, there’s a lot of overlap. Here are some of the points to the book:


1. If you want to persuade someone on something, rather than just jumping into it, first prime them. Basically the idea behind this is that of the movie Inception for those of you who have seen it. But instead of planting ideas in one’s mind while he/she’s sleeping, you do it while they’re conscious. Plant the notion in their head first rather than trying to directly persuade someone of something.Priming is the means by which you activate a schema or mindset. In the previous study about stereotypes, the ‘prime’ was the questionnaire. When people filled out the questionnaire, their schema for either Asian or female became activated. Does that mean you need to ask people to complete a questionnaire in order to prime a schema? Nope. Luckily, there are many easier ways to prime particular schemas (though I suppose you could ask your target to fill out a questionnaire if you really wanted to). If not by questionnaire, how else can you prime a schema? Research shows that you can prime a schema by merely exposing people to certain words or ideas related to a particular schema. To illustrate, the next study offers a prime example (ha, get the pun?). Using the disguise of a word-puzzle task, Bargh, Chen, and Burrows (1996) exposed people to words relating to the elderly (e.g., bingo, wise, retired, Florida). When the experiment was supposedly over, what do you think happened when people walked out of the room? Astonishingly, compared to a control group, people walked out of the room significantly slower when they were exposed to the elderly related words. Those words primed a schema for the elderly, which then activated behavior that people associate with the elderly: walking slow.


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2. Request something outrageous first as as “decoy” before asking your intended request. By asking your target something outrageous as a decoy first, this makes your real request seem insignificant compared to it. It’s a natural thing to compare and contrast options with each other. “Contrast effects influence our perception not only with arbitrary circles but with many different types of stimuli each day, including our perception of other people’s attractiveness. For example, researchers showed men a picture of a female after the men had watched Charlie’s Angels—a television show from the 1970s with three very attractive females as the main characters. Compared to a control group, men who had been watching Charlie’s Angels rated the female in the picture to be less attractive because the television show created a contrast effect (Kenrick & Gutierres, 1989). Like assimilation, contrast effects alter our perception on a daily basis without our awareness.” He later states, In the original study that examined this technique, Robert Cialdini and his colleagues (1975) asked random college students to volunteer at a juvenile delinquency center for two hours each week over the next two years. You can probably guess what happened. Everyone immediately jumped at the incredible opportunity, right? Not quite. As expected, nearly everyone politely turned down that large request. But something interesting happened when the researchers followed that large request with a smaller request: to take the juvenile delinquents on a two-hour trip to the zoo. Without that initial large request, only 17 percent of people agreed to the zoo trip, but when that initial large request was presented (and rejected), compliance for the zoo trip request nearly tripled to 50 percent. The large request created an anchor from which people could judge the size of the zoo trip. With such a large anchor established, the zoo trip was perceived to be much smaller, thereby leading to a higher rate of compliance.


3. A flip tactic to point 2 is to start small and build it up; this is called commitment consistency. I’m sure you’ve experienced saying yes to someone’s request hoping that it’ll be the end of it. However, after saying “yes” to it, that person inches forward with an even greater request and you then feel obligated to say “yes” to that as well because you’ve already said yes to the previous request despite not wanting to. By saying “yes” to the requests, you’ve “committed” yourself to their requests and you feel like you can’t get out of it. In addition to using a small request to secure compliance with a separate larger request, you could also start with a small request, and once you gain the initial compliance, you can increase the size of that same request. This lowball procedure is a frequent tactic used by salespeople to influence their customers (Cialdini, 2001). In fact, you may have fallen prey to this tactic by a salesperson at a car dealership where this tactic is often used. You just negotiated a great deal with a car salesperson, and as he goes into the back office to write up the paperwork, you rejoice at having secured a fantastic bargain for your new car. In reality, however, the salesperson is probably twiddling his thumbs in the back room, waiting for time to pass so that you have a few moments to fantasize about your new car. After a few minutes pass, the salesperson returns with some unfortunate news: the manager didn’t approve the sale, and the fantastic ‘bargain’ just increased by $500. However, by that point, the salesperson already sparked your momentum by gaining your initial compliance, and as a result, you will feel inertia pushing you toward continued compliance with that enlarged request. You’ve already fantasized about your new car, and you’ve already engaged in behavior that suggested you want that car. Much like a puppeteer pulling the string of a marionette, that salesman just pulled the string of cognitive dissonance to pull you toward accepting that enlarged request.


4. The more you’re liked by the person you’re trying to persuade, the better your odds of persuasion. In one of T. Harv Eker’s business courses I’ve taken, one of the modules is on negotiations and in it, one of the tactics he talks about to be a better negotiator is to find commonality. He then talks about he how he was able to get a discount off of some paint protector when buying his Porsche despite others failing to get the discount. “One of the most powerful factors that can influence your chances of gaining compliance is the amount of rapport that exists between you and your target. The more he likes you, the greater your chances of succeeding; the less he likes you, the lower your chances of succeeding. Although the title of this chapter could have been titled, “Build Greater Rapport,” the topic of building rapport is extremely broad, so this chapter focuses on explaining the single most effective strategy: emphasizing similarities that you share with your target (for a more comprehensive explanation of rapport-building techniques, refer to Dale Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People).
The old saying, “opposites attract,” is almost entirely wrong. Extensive research shows that we’re psychologically drawn toward people who resemble ourselves in appearance, interests, and virtually all other aspects. The principle of incidental similarity explains how rapport can develop when two people discover a shared similarity, even a small and irrelevant similarity, such as a shared love for psychology.”

By Ryan Timothy Lee


Thank you for reading! Please share this post with someone who you think will benefit from it. If you have any book requests/recommendations, I’d love to hear them out so please let me know through an e-mail at Also join my Facebook group here, to receive updates on future posts.


My rating:
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Check out the book here:
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
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