Ailsa was convinced it was the right thing to do.

Yet she was extremely frustrated that she wasn’t convincing others.

In fact, she felt like she’d hit a brick wall.

This could be the perfect time to use Cialdini’s Universal Rules to extract the hidden persuasive arguments from Ailsa’s head.

Who is Cialdini?

Google the word ‘influence’, and once you’ve got past all the different dictionary definitions you will immediately reach links for Psychology Professor Robert Cialdini. He’s one of the world’s leading thinkers in the psychology of persuasion.

Cialdini wondered “What are the types of persuasive arguments that are hard-wired to make sense to our human brains?” and listed them in his classic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, calling them the “Universal Rules”.

Each rule is backed by multiple research studies showing that humans naturally think and act in these ways, whether they realise it or not.

Extracting Arguments Using Brainstorming

Returning to Ailsa, who was convinced that something was the right thing to do, but was struggling to convince others.

The chances are that Ailsa:

1. Hasn’t articulated everything that was in her head to those she was trying to convince


2.  Hasn’t positioned the arguments in a logical way that makes sense to someone else

This is when it becomes extremely useful to brainstorm against Cialdini’s Universal Rules.

red10 ‘s Version: Cialdini’s 8 Universal Rules

1 – Because

When we are given a reason for the request.
e.g. “Please can I have an extra 2 FTE’s because we have 10 new projects this year?”

2 – Contrast

Seeing a second item more differently than it is.
e.g. “Please can you help us respond to this customer? We usually get 2 weeks, but we need to turn this round in only 1 week.”

3 – Reciprocation

The obligation to “give and take”. People who give something in the first instance, or conceded something to us first
e.g. “I will give you an additional FTE if you can pick up another project for me”

4 – Consistency

When we are being consistent with previous decisions
“We always conduct peer reviews before major investment decisions to ensure robust assessment”

5 – Social Proof

More likely to do it when others are doing it too
“Why don’t we follow the same response that our competitor used?”

6 – Liking

More likely to say yes to someone we like, or someone more like us.
e.g. using same sorts of words as they do

7 – Scarcity

There’s not many left or not much time left on the deal…
“We need to accelerate the file as our competitor has just announced positive data”

8 – Authority

The authority or expertise of others…
“We heard clearly stated at congress that…”

If Cialdini Lists Six Universal Rules, Why Does red10  List Eight?

As well as the six Universal Rules, Cialdini lists two additional rules in his introduction chapter that appear to not make it into the main list because they are so obvious, even though Cialdini provides the research studies backing them too.

To extract the arguments properly from Ailsa’s head, these extra two are needed in the list. We often find that people forget the most obvious arguments and need these the most.

Making This Accessible

It maybe that this article is enough for you to start using this approach, but for most people it needs some further explanation and practice.

red10 has a Skill Masterclass that introduces Cialdini’s Universal Rules using games and simulations, showing the surprising power of ‘Rule Combos’, and how the Rules can be even more useful when linked to ‘other person centred’ communicating behaviours.