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A list of the best books on influence and persuasion that will dramatically change your life.
If your ability to influence and persuade others is on the weak side, it is because you’ve been taught the wrong way. Most books on influence are too complicated. And even if you take the time study them, you rarely see any impact.
Many books that claim to improve your influencing and persuasion abilities don’t work. These authors have found their own success mostly through luck. But they ascribe it to their talent and ability. Then they write a book on what they have imagined drove their success. And the rest of us fall for it.
We try out a new approach from a book on influence. Nothing happens. Move on to the next. And the cycle of frustration continues.
Table of Contents
- Influence, New And Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion
- The One Sentence Persuasion Course – 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding
- The Enigma of Reason
- Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
- Hidden Persuasion: 33 Psychological Influence Techniques in Advertising
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
- How to Win Friends & Influence People
- Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time
- How to Write a Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting
- Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
- Trump: The Art of the Deal
- Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter
- Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions
- The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling
- What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
- The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition
- The Secret Of Selling Anything
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
- Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
- Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception
How To Find The Best Books On Influence And Persuasion
Recently, there has been new research in the fields of social psychology and behavioral sciences. They show us the surprisingly easy reasons why people make decisions. Why they say yes to something. And what it is that really persuades them.
The only books on influence and persuasion worth your time will have:
- Simple influencing techniques. They will make you say, “Really? I doubt that would work.”
- They work on everyone. After honest introspection, you will realize that you have fallen for it in the past.
- The techniques will influence people subconsciously. The person will not be aware they are being influenced.
- The influencing and persuasion methods are easy to learn. Once you understand how to influence someone with the approach, you will get immediate results.
The good news is that we now have several authors who have caught on to how real influence works. Their books on influence get it right and are bestsellers. In no time, you will start to influence people and grow your leadership abilities. It will be life-changing for you. Enjoy!
A Visual Web Story version of this article can be found below:
Books That Explain The Basics Of Influence And Persuasion
Influence, New And Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion
You should start with this bestselling book on influence by Robert Cialdini. It is the basis for understanding how influence and persuasion works. His premise is that our world is too information-rich. So people rely on shortcuts for decision-making instead of making rational choices. Cialdini explains these six principles of influence in his book and shows how you could use them in your own life.
“Influence” will open your eyes for understanding the rest of the books on persuasion in this list. It will maximize your leadership, influencing and persuasion skills at work 10-fold. And it is an engaging and fast-paced read.
By Robert B. Cialdini, Harper Business; New York, NY; 2021 (New and Expanded Edition).
The One Sentence Persuasion Course – 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding
As far as simplified and feel-good methods of influence go, this is the best book for positive ways to influence and persuade people.
If you are short on time (and money), you should read the original 2005 version of this wonder from Blair Warren. It will change your life. He made the original free to download and you can find it by clicking here.
By Blair Warren, eBook 2012.
I have used techniques from this course in the introduction of this article. You should go up and re-read that part now. If the technique worked on you, that is your filter for recognizing a master influencer move. It is simple and truly a gem. This book will improve your influencing and persuasion skills by about 50%.
The Enigma of Reason
The Enigma of Reason provides a key insight into why it is futile to influence people by reasoning with them. Reasoning with others makes them argue with you and resist. You will almost never influence and persuade others with reasoning. You can learn more on this topic and what to do instead here.
By Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 2017.
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
Pre-Suasion is another of Cialdini’s must-read books on influence. Here, he shows how to get people in a state where they will be more receptive to your future requests. It is filled with great examples and makes for an interesting read. A review on the book and some quick tips on how to pre-suade is available here.
By Robert B. Cialdini, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 2016.
Video Tutorial: Top Books On Influence And Persuasion
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Hidden Persuasion: 33 Psychological Influence Techniques in Advertising
Focusses on the visual power of persuasion in advertising. The authors teach you 33 of these psychological techniques to influence people.
By Marc Andrews, Mattheis Lars van Leeuwen, and Rickert Bart van Baaren, BIS Publishers, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2013.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
By Dan Ariely, Revised And Expanded Edition, HarperCollins, New York, NY 2009.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, NY 2011.
Books To Develop Your Influencing, Leadership, And Persuasion Skills
How to Win Friends & Influence People
Dale Carnegie’s book is the quintessential favorite and a must-read if you want to learn ways to influence people and put it in practice. It is regularly cited as one of the best books on influence and persuasion. It shows you how to influence people in a positive and uplifting manner.
By Dale Carnegie, 80th Anniversary Ed., Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 2009.
Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time
By Gerry Spence, St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY 2005.
How to Write a Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting
Victor Schwab is someone you’ve likely not heard of. Yet, he is one of the most influential figures in the world of advertising. Widely believed to be the greatest mail-order copywriters of all time.
Schwab wrote the mail order ads for Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends And Influence People. His copywriting skills for these ads helped the book become a best seller. His formula for an effective ad is simple:
- Get attention
- Show people an advantage
- Prove it
- Persuade people to grasp this advantage
- Ask for action
By Victor O. Schwab, Martino Publishing, Mansfield Centre, CT 2015.
Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
By Guy Kawasaki, HarperCollins, New York, NY 2009.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
By Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Co., New York, NY 2002.
Trump: The Art of the Deal
Before he became president, Trump’s book was the definitive guide to negotiation and making deals. And it still is. Just because you may not like him as a president, is no reason to think his advice here should be ignored.
“I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”—Donald J. Trump
By Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwart, Random House, New York, NY 1987.
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter
By Scott Adams, Penguin, New York, NY 2017.
Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions
By Carmen Simon, McGraw Hill, New York, NY 2016.
The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling
By Annette Simmons, Basic Books, New York, NY 2019.
What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
Navarro and Karlins teach us how to read people from their body language. When you ask people how they really feel, they rarely verbalize their true emotions. This book will help you discern their real motivations. Which will, in turn, help you influence them positively.
By Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins, HarperCollins, New York, NY 2008.
The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition
By Donald A. Norman, Basic Books, New York, NY 2013.
The Secret Of Selling Anything
By Harry Browne, eBook 2012.
Books To Influence Yourself And Develop Your Leadership Skills
We also need to know how to influence ourselves (motivation, self-development, etc.). The same principles that we’ve learned in the books above still hold true. However, these books that follow will teach you how to persuade yourself for good.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
By Scott Adams, Penguin, New York, NY 2013.
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Nudge is a good primer on the newer field of behavioral economics. If you are more financially inclined, this will be a useful book for learning what influences people’s economic decisions.
By Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Penguin Group, New York, NY 2009.
Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception
By George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 2015.
As these books develop and improve your influencing, leadership and persuasion skills, remember to use them to benefit others. And not only for your own gain or to manipulate.
“Where there’s despair in life, bring hope
Where there is darkness, cast light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.”
-Adapted from the Prayer of St. Francis
Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].
Best books on influence, books on persuasion; Books to improve your influencing, leadership skills and abilities; Influence and persuasion reading list; Career development
Updated for new books in January 2022.
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