Persuasion Techniques To Help You Get What You Want Most

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Persuasion techniques can be helpful in all social relationships, whether formal or informal. While there may be many approaches to improving persuasion, this article will focus primarily on the six principles identified by Dr. Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist who studies persuasion techniques. These six principles generally include liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority, and scarcity. A licensed therapist may help you learn strategies to implement these principles in a healthy way.

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The six principles of persuasion

Cialdini's six principles are generally evidence-based approaches to persuasion, meaning that they are likely to be effective when properly applied. The principles, a description of each, and basic techniques for applying that principle are described below.


This principle can be common sense for many; a person is usually more likely to respond positively to a request or argument if they like the person making it. You might try these techniques:

Social proof

Social proof often leverages a well-known element of social psychology: The average person is usually more likely to act in a certain way if others are acting the same way. You might try the following:

Other persuasion techniques

Identify similarities

This technique tends to be most effective when the interpersonal relationship is new. Identifying interests and hobbies can create a common ground that increases likability. If the person you're trying to persuade has a lot in common with you, persuasion may be easier. 


The concepts of scarcity, rarity, and exclusivity can all leverage the well-researched effect that most people respond more positively to and work hard to achieve things that are difficult to obtain. You might try the following strategies:


A person's authority can be different from the level of control they have over another, such as a boss over an employee. Authority, in this case, can refer to the quality of evidence and degree of expertise presented by a persuasive argument.


Consistency, in this case, refers to individual and social pressures that can keep a person aligned with their own goals. Consistency typically aligns with a commitment. Once a person feels committed to a goal, they may be more likely to achieve it to maintain consistency. Try these approaches to leverage a person's drive to be consistent:


The reciprocity principle usually leverages the fact that human nature tends to push a person to return favors and pay others back. Generally speaking, if a request is made of a person by someone they feel indebted to, they may be more likely to comply. Techniques for reciprocity generally fall into two areas: gifts and favors.

Praise the person

Offering praise can be a powerful tool to increase how much another person likes you. Most people respond positively to positive statements about their performance or accomplishments. Any compliments offered should be genuine to avoid the appearance of flattery. 


Giving gifts can be an effective way to improve your influence over others, but it may come with some caveats. Gift-giving often requires a knowledge of the recipient's tastes and preferences, and the value of the gift generally must not be so much that a person feels obligated to refuse. Try to stick to inexpensive, thoughtful gifts that recognize a person's genuine interests or effort, such as a $10 or $15 gift card to a local café, along with a note thanking or recognizing a person's effort or accomplishment.


When considering favors, there are a couple of directions you may go. The first, and often most apparent, can be to do favors for someone you are trying to influence before you make your persuasion attempt. Performing small favors for someone can not only make them feel indebted to you, but a willingness to do favors may make you more likable in their eyes.

The second approach to favors can be to ask for a small, easily doable favor from the person you are trying to persuade. Known colloquially as the Ben Franklin effect, this technique has been demonstrated by psychological researchers to predispose others to do favors for you. The key is generally to start with a very small favor that a typical person would be unlikely to say no to, such as borrowing a writing implement. After performing that favor, the person may be more likely to respond positively to more significant favors and persuasive arguments.

Gather support

Attempting to persuade someone is typically easier if you already have others on your side. The key here can be to avoid ambushing the person you are trying to convince. Refrain from gathering a crowd of supporters and march down to the person's area; instead, you might try a more subtle approach. You can casually mention how many others support your position in conversation or, for a more direct approach, have an e-mail chain (with the permission of participants) that discusses the benefits of your position.

Find expert testimony

A foundational theory in social psychology, elaboration theory, indicates that the average person is usually more likely to be persuaded by the amount of evidence as opposed to the quality of the evidence. In this case, it is generally more effective to find as many supporters as possible to support your argument. If that is not possible, though, the opinion of a small number of experts is generally more effective at persuading someone than the opinions of a small number of laypeople. If possible, find expert testimony from well-known, highly established experts.


Get it in writing

While not possible in all situations, if you can get someone to write down their commitments, it usually makes it more likely that they will follow through. Generally, this is best used to ensure cooperation after a person has already been partially persuaded. If you're worried the person may not follow through on whatever you convinced them to do or think, getting it in writing can be a valuable, easy way to increase conformity.

Leverage pre-existing consistency

People usually seek to be consistent with their goals and their past selves. You might use this to persuade a person by relating your argument to something the other person genuinely values. For example, suppose a person values their ability to be positive and optimistic. In that case, you can explain how your argument relates to an optimistic person and why the beliefs you are trying to persuade them of could be held by most optimistic people.

Find high-authority evidence

High-quality evidence is often authoritative; it usually comprehensibly and clearly presents a reason for your persuasive argument. Depending on the context, high-authority evidence might include things such as research journals or scientific studies. In other contexts, the expertise of someone you know to be trusted by the person you are persuading may be helpful.

Demonstrate your expertise

Research suggests that your personal expertise may not be apparent to others. If you are knowledgeable on a particular topic, avoid the temptation to present your expertise as an irrefutable fact. No matter how much you know, even if you are certain about your conclusion, the person you are trying to persuade may have doubts. Consider a more subtle approach, like having an amusing anecdote about a time you solved a problem using your expertise.

Exploit a time crunch

A person is typically more likely to demonstrate an immediate positive response to persuasion if they perceive a likelihood that they will not have an opportunity to respond in the future. It can be important not to frame this approach as a time crunch imposed by you but rather by external factors. The person you are influencing should believe that, if given the option, you'd give them all the time in the world to consider your argument, but that is beyond your control.

Offer early access

If you have information that is not publicly known or available, you can leverage the exclusivity of that information to bolster your persuasion. Make it clear to the person you are trying to persuade that the information you are providing in your argument is not readily available to others. The appeal of exclusivity will likely lead the other person to give more credence to your view.

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How can online therapy help?

If you're interested in improving your persuasive prowess, online therapy can help you achieve your goals in the comfort of your own home. In addition, visiting with a therapist online usually reduces the time commitment of therapy by removing the time spent traveling to an office and sitting in the waiting room. Empirically-supported techniques to help you increase your persuasive ability, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, are normally just as effective when administered online as in person.


It can be possible for anyone to improve their persuasion skills. Six of the most common types of persuasion techniques can include liking, reciprocity, social proof, consistency, authority, and scarcity. Online therapy can help you improve your communication and persuasion skills while enhancing your overall mental health.
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