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Pre-Suasion Book Review: Robert Cialdini’s Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade Others

    Cover page of Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade, the book that is reviewed here.

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    Our book review on “Pre-suasion,” which is Robert Cialdini’s latest bestselling book in the field of influence and persuasion. After his incredibly successful book Influence, which he wrote in the 80s, we did not hear much from him. In “Pre-suasion,” Cialdini comes roaring back. He puts forward a revolutionary approach to influencing and persuading others — what you should do just before you make a request.

    In “Pre-suasion,” Cialdini shows from his latest research how to significantly improve your influence game with only a little extra effort . And getting people to say yes to you more often.

    Cialdini’s Key Concept: Pre-Suasion, The Frontloading Of Attention

    To get people to agree with you, the key is not so much what is said when making your request. It is on what the person experiences just prior to it.

    Cialdini explains it best —

    “The basic idea of pre-suasion is that by guiding preliminary attention strategically, it’s possible for a communicator to move recipients into agreement with a message before they experience it. The key is to focus them initially on concepts that are aligned associatively with the yet-to-be-encountered information.”

    –Robert Cialdini, Pre-Suasion

    For example, you are a manager of a wine store that wants to empty their shelves of German wines. Do you put them on sale, advertise or give out coupons? No. Just play German music on the store’s sound system. In a study, customers who listened to German music as they entered a store were more likely to buy German wine. When French music was played, they tended to buy a French vintage [1].

    Pre-Suasion Examples: Anchoring To High Numbers And Feelings

    Elsewhere in “Pre-Suasion,” Cialdini talks about other researchers who found that if college students were first asked to draw a set of long lines on a piece of paper, they were more likely to estimate the length of the Mississippi River as being much longer than those who had been asked to draw a set of short lines [2].

    Want people to have feelings of warmth and trust towards you before asking them for something? Wait till they are holding a warm cup of coffee or beverage in their hands and then make your request [3].

    Hot coffee cup demonstrating pre-suasion when a person holding a warm beverage develops a more favorable disposition to someone.
    Pexels photo

    How To Use Pre-Suasion To Get People To Say Yes To You

    Direct the subject’s attention to something that is closely related to the message you are about to deliver. And the direction you want them to go in order to comply with your request. When they later decide whether to say yes, they draw on this association and are more inclined to agree with you. All because you pre-activated this line of reasoning in their mind and they are now drawn to it.

    Most of our decision-making comes from our subconscious mind. Pre-suasion just reminds someone’s subconscious about a certain concept. One that is going to work in your favor when they evaluate your future request.

    Of course, this does not guarantee you will get compliance, but it drastically improves your odds. In persuasion, that can often be enough. Secure some initial momentum in your favor. And then other cascading effects or methods that you use can propel it even further.

    Why Pre-Suasion Works So Well And How It Influences And Persuades Others

    There are two main reasons why pre-suasion works:

    Firstly, when exposed to the opening concept (German music, warm cup), the second closely related association (German wine, amicable warm feeling) is more easily accessible to our reasoning. This makes it more likely that we will subliminally link the two. And we get pushed down a predetermined path in our decision making. All without realizing it and consciously establishing the link.

    Secondly, concepts not related to the opener are more suppressed in our memory and we find it harder to access them when we are weighing our choices. Thus, choices that the compliance specialist does not want you to make are more difficult for you to think of and evaluate.

    When you encounter an influencing technique like pre-suasion that works on people automatically, you know it is potent. If you want to be a successful persuader, this is an approach you will want to learn. On a related topic, you can find how to identify effective persuasion techniques here.

    Using Pre-Suasion At Work To Influence And Persuade Others

    Just being aware of how people’s decisions are moved by related concepts that are in their recent consciousness will be a good start to getting better outcomes at work. We all know this to some effect. In fact, positive visualization is nothing but a way to pre-suade yourself. But for many of us it is quite a revelation how much this can help to get people to say yes to you.

    When you are around the people you are influencing, you need to carefully choose your words and the emotional state of your subjects. As an example, the small talk you make with people, can be tailored with phrasing that pre-suades them to what you will ask of them later. Always keep the topics positive. If you have just driven to meet clients, don’t talk about traffic jams or bad weather. Instead mention pleasant scenery or places of interest that invoke good feelings in others.

    With a bit of practice, you will be able to think of wording or anecdotes that are surprisingly effective pre-suasion methods. Or at the very least, eliminate from your pitch wording that will pre-suade people negatively.

    Pre-Suasion: Channeling Attention For Change

    In his book “Pre-suasion,” Cialdini talks about the pre-suasive benefit of never asking bosses or colleagues for feedback. This word makes them take a more introspective frame of mind. They will tend to be more critical, as a result of this. He suggests using the word “advice” instead. Advice has the opposite effect. It reminds them to be closer to you (an adviser). They are now primed to be supportive of your proposal. And all this just with one change in wording. If you use pre-suasion around people you are persuading, you will get more yesses from them.

    Should You Buy The Book? Final Pre-Suasion Book Review

    Our Rating:

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    “Pre-suasion,” is a highly informative book and will give you a much deeper understanding of this technique. If you have read Cialdini’s other bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, you are familiar with his 6 principles of influence. The bonus in “Pre-suasion” is that he introduces us to a seventh principle of influence, unity.

    But if you are just looking to learn Cialdini’s concept of pre-suasion and how it works, this “Pre-suasion” book review and summary will be enough to get you started. Plus, you can search online for some of his videos/interviews to get more depth from the author himself. Our book review of “Pre-suasion,” was just a starter to get you introduced to this easy way to influence and persuade people.

    Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade By Robert B. Cialdini, Simon & Schuster, 413 pages, New York, NY 2016.

    Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

    Lastly, if you are the adventurous and curious kind (warning: pre-suasion), you may want to see our full influencing and persuasion reading list below.

    Influence And Persuasion Reading List

    Watch Our YouTube Tutorial: Top Books On Influence And Persuasion

    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].


    1. North, A.C.; Hargreaves, D.J.; McKendrick, J. “In-Store Music Affects Product Choice” Nature, 1997, 390 (November 13), 132.
    2. Oppenheimer, D.M.; LeBoeuf, R.E.; Brewer, N.T. “Anchors Aweigh: A Demonstration of Cross-Modality Anchoring and Magnitude Priming” Cognition, 2008, 106, 13–26.
    3. Inagaki, T.K..; Eisenberger, N.I. “Shared Neural Mechanisms Underlying Social Warmth and Physical Warmth” Psychological Science, 2013, 24, 2272–2280.


    Pre-suasion book review; Robert Cialdini; A Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade; Influencing; Persuasion; Channeling Attention for Change

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