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Have you ever tried to convince your boss of a new idea, motivate a team that couldn’t seem to get its act together, or get your coworker with the messy desk to change their ways? Persuasion is a vital leadership skill that helps people change for the better. 

Dr. Robert Cialdini, a world-renowned expert in persuasion, identified six core principles that drive people to say “yes”—whether it’s adopting new software or changing their lunch habits. Let’s break them down and see how you can apply them to create lasting change. 


Before asking team members to do something they might find difficult or outside their wheelhouse, find ways to help them. Provide assistance with a challenging task or be someone they can vent to during a stressful day. Reciprocity is a powerful force – they’ll be more likely to return the favor when you need it.


Urgency isn’t just a tactic reserved for late-night infomercials—it’s a highly effective strategy to get members to embrace change. By emphasizing the risks of doing nothing, you motivate individuals to seize the moment. 

This approach works by tapping into the fear of missing out (FOMO). To get your team to take action, show them all the wonderful benefits early adopters will gain. Remind them that delaying could mean missing out on chances to lead projects or enhance skills.


Authority doesn’t mean just saying you know what you’re doing—it’s about convincingly showing it. Instead of just claiming expertise, it’s more effective to back up your ideas with solid data, insights from industry experts, or case studies of past successes.

For example, if you’re pitching a new software tool at work, don’t just say it’s great—show how it has boosted productivity by a significant percentage in companies similar to yours. This kind of data speaks volumes. Also, if an expert in your field has endorsed the tool, share that feedback. 

Using your own track record can also be persuasive. If you’ve led successful projects before, remind your colleagues of those successes and how the lessons learned can be applied to current projects.


People listen to those they like. Get to know your colleagues as people—not just coworkers—and you’ll be more persuasive.

Ask about their lives outside of work. This can be as simple as starting meetings with a few minutes of casual conversation about non-work topics or celebrating personal milestones. These actions help build rapport and a sense of camaraderie.

Ensure that you listen to your colleagues’ ideas and feedback. When people feel heard and valued, they’re more open to changes others propose. Acknowledge their contributions in meetings and give credit where it’s due. This not only boosts morale but also enhances your likability.


People strive for consistency between their actions and their idea of who they are. It’s all about self-image.  

If someone thinks of themselves as “creative,” they’re more likely to do artsy things. On the other hand, if individuals see themselves as “organized,” they’ll enjoy sorting and planning tasks.

This principle applies even when trying to get people to embrace change. Instead of asking for drastic alterations, start with tiny actions that reinforce what they already believe about themselves or create new connections to a broader self-image.

Here’s a common workplace situation: training your team to use a new software. New technology is a common stress trigger. To reduce the immediate urge of overwhelm, you consistently refer to your team as tech savvy, tech smart, software users, etc. This reminds them they are not out of their element and the skills they already possess.

Instead of diving headfirst into advanced features, you begin by having them master the basics, regardless of how mundane or boring they find it. These easy successes build commitment in moving forward while anticipating additional success. 

Gradually, you introduce more advanced tools and techniques. With each tiny win, they gain confidence in navigating the software. Instead of being paralyzed by its complexity, they start experimenting and applying their newfound skills to design problems. Before long, they see themselves as tech smart and suggest shortcuts or creative ways to push the software’s capabilities. 

Consensus/Social Proof

Don’t underestimate the value of showcasing what others have done when implementing change.  Sharing success stories and positive experiences from colleagues who have already embraced the change paints a picture of what’s possible and counteracts the fear of the unknown.

For example, let’s say you’re rolling out a new time-tracking system. Rather than just listing features, share a few examples of how other teams have used this system to streamline their workflow. Case studies are incredibly effective because seeing similar teams benefiting can make the change feel much more achievable.

All of this creates “social proof.”  Seeing others like them already on board reduces resistance and encourages them to join—significantly increasing the chances of a smooth transition.

Final Thoughts 

Remember, persuasion is a long game. While these tactics offer potent ways to influence and connect with others, they won’t magically transform every skeptic into a cheerleader overnight.  It takes time, consistency, and the willingness to adapt your approach.

As your persuasion skills grow, you’ll find it easier to gain buy-in for new ideas, resolve conflicts constructively, and forge collaborative relationships. The impact of these tiny wins compounds over time, helping you foster lasting change.

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