You may have heard about Robert Cialdini’s Levers of Persuasion, but have you heard about Pre-Suasion?

Did you know that a group which co-creates and proposes a solution together, feels ownership in a very different positive way?

Or perhaps you believe that getting on with the task by yourself is easier?

Here red10 ‘s Lisa Smith explains Robert Cialdini’s 7th Principle of Pre-suasion, Unity, and how encouraging teamwork is influential.

This is part of red10 ‘s Influencing Skills Masterclass and one of the eight Cialdini principles of Pre-suasion.


Robert Cialdini uses a metaphor to describe what Pre-Suasion is. He says, like a good gardener who tends to the soil before planting seeds, it’s what takes place just before the actual persuasion effort occurs that creates a favourable state of mind.

The focus is on what influential people do and say before making a request, rather than on the request itself.

Unity: It’s All About Us

There are 8 Pre-Suasion Principles – the 7th one is Unity.

Bringing teams together early on and building a sense of ‘we’ is true Pre-Suasion because it means planning the approach to a challenge or project so that the right people are involved from the start.

When those people identify the challenge, then propose and co-create a solution together, it builds unity.

That sense of ownership is very different and positive because, to some degree, a part of themselves merges with the creation.

And what Cialdini discovered is the more people feel they are part of ‘us’, the more likely they are to be influenced.

Family Ties

The first experience of this sense of ‘us’ we are likely to encounter is within our own families.

This can be a powerful manifestation of unity and people go to great lengths to help genetically close relatives.

Cialdini says you can use family-driven unity, even when you are trying to influence people who aren’t your own relatives.

Where else?

Shared interests, location, and other factors can be emphasised to build unity too. With a little creativity, you can always find a factor that will unite you with your client.

This is very similar to Liking in Cialdini’s Persuasion Principles, but Unity is done prior to the interaction.

For example, before a meeting you might say to an important stakeholder: “You’ll meet Alex in the meeting today, you two have a lot in common, she just ran her first marathon too.”

A Military Unit

As an ex British Army officer, I can say that the military do this very well.

On day one you are given uniform with badges and insignia which show your rank and regiment/corps. Your affiliation and belonging are immediately apparent, and it doesn’t just show that you fit in, but also where you fit in.

The language used to describe army life is only really understood by those who are ‘in’, and the word ‘unit’ is even used to describe sub-teams.

Military leaders have a huge task persuading their reports to carry out operations. This early sense of unity is incredibly effective.

This sense of belonging remains a big part of who I am today.


The Unity Principle aligns closely with Neil Rackham’s Push:Pull leadership style –  the other influencing tool in red10’s Influencing Skills Masterclass.

To be influential we need to spend roughly 60% of our time as a pull-style leader. This means being more democratic and consultative, using open communication behaviours.

Where to start?

Ask yourself this: could the full team draft a project charter together?

Once that is done, agree on the who/what/why/where/when/how and trust the division of labour into smaller groups to follow through the plan.

Meet periodically to track the team’s progress.

Or, if you are interested in finding out more, or would like to arrange an Influencing Skills Masterclass for your teams, please get in touch.