Weapons of influence

These are my reading notes and thoughts on the book titled Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Chapter 1 – Weapons of influence

In this chapter, Cialdini prepares us for what’s to come. The book will be about weapons of influence, tools that provoke automatic, preprogrammed and involuntary responses in human beings.

In other words, tool that make others comply.

These automatic responses, originally created for our survival, now exist to help us cope with a complex world and allow us to make the best decisions in the shortest amount of time. For example, we tend to believe that an expensive item is of higher quality than a cheaper one. It’s not always true, but following this rule over a lifetime will net positive results.

Employees often complain that E&C programs are burdensome and get in the way of business. Of course, we disagree. So the question is, could we use some of these weapons to make employees believe what we believe?

That’s the question I will try to answer as I read this book.

A new definition of compliance professional

These are my reading notes and thoughts on the book titled Influence by Robert Cialdini.


I did not expect the first paragraph of this book to stop me in my tracks but it did. After admitting that he is an easy prey for people selling magazine subscriptions and raising money for charities, the author writes this about compliance:

Probably this long-standing status as sucker accounts for my interest in the study of compliance: Just what are the factors that cause one person to say yes to another person?

In my 13 years in the E&C sphere, I had never thought of compliance as a process leading others to say yes to me. Compliance had always been about the question “Can I?”, while ethics was about the question “Should I?”. Compliance was about the law, about the rules. I had always looked at compliance from the perspective of the one being ruled – the employees ruled by the company, itself ruled by the regulators. Cialdini, it seems, is approaching compliance from the perspective of the ruler.

This mindshift comes on the heels of another concept I heard for the first time recently: most compliance failures do not result from a lack of awareness or understanding but from others not believing what we – the compliance officers – believe.

Put together, these two notions suggest that a successful compliance officer is one who, using the influence principles, communicates her beliefs in such a way that causes others to say yes the compliance program.

Imagine organizations where E&C professionals possess such skills.

This approach to E&C is interesting, to say the least.