10 great books to help you influence and persuade people in business

Ever feel that you're just not persuasive enough? That clients aren't going ahead with your plans or listening to your advice? If you're freelancing and you often feel as though you need a few more social tools under your belt, the following recommended books will help.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

They cover the mysterious powers of influence and persuasion, teaching you how to win people's respect and get what you want for your business.

This list of absolute must-read classics and modern best-sellers will show you how the mind works, how people make decisions, and how you can influence people's thoughts and become more successful in business.

1. Methods of Persuasion: How to Use Psychology to Influence Human Behaviour by Nick Kolenda

Using principles from cognitive psychology, Nick Kolenda has developed a unique way to influence people's thoughts subconsciously. He's developed a "mind-reading" stage show depicting that phenomenon, and his demonstrations have been seen by over a million people across the globe. With his book, you'll be able to understand his secrets for the first time. So next time you're at a pitch, you can apply what you learn from his robust seven-step process.

2. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Influence is the classic book on persuasion and explains the psychology of why people say "yes" – and how to apply these understandings — written by Dr Robert Cialdini, the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. Through his book, you'll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader – and how to defend yourself against them.

3. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

Following on from his global bestseller Influence, Professor Cialdini's latest book offers revelatory new insights into the art of winning people over: it isn’t just what we say or how we say it that counts, but also what goes on in the moments before we speak. Interesting. Worth a read.

4. Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion by Noah J. Goldstein

Much of our success depends on getting others to say 'Yes' to our requests. What many people might not be aware of, though, is the vast amount of research that has been conducted on the influence process. What factors cause one person to say 'Yes' to the request of another? This book is full of practical tips based on recent academic research that shows how the psychology of persuasion can provide valuable insights for anyone interested in improving their ability to persuade others.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If you're going to get people to agree to your suggestions, then they're going to have to like you. Make sure you add this absolute classic business book to your shelves because millions of people around the world have improved their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, he offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to persuade people to follow your way of thinking, and enable you to win new clients.

6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

This essential book presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centred approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity – principles that give us the security to adapt to change, and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

7. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Another classic must-read, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman offers a whole new look at the way our minds work, and how we make decisions. Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold typeface? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thought. This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are logical) and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking.

8. Communication Skills: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Social Intelligence, Presentation, Persuasion and Public Speaking by Ian Tuhovsky

Have you ever considered how many times you intuitively felt that maybe you lost something important or crucial, simply because you unwittingly said or did something which put somebody off? Perhaps it was an unfortunate word, wrong formulation, inappropriate joke, forgotten name, huge misinterpretation, an awkward conversation or a strange tone of your voice? If you don’t know how to communicate correctly, you're going to have problems in business. This book will help you improve your social intelligence, persuasion and communication skills, and give you the tools you need to convince others you're the right person for the job.

9. Customer Persuasion: How to Influence your Customers to Buy More and Why an Ethical Approach Will Always Win by Miss Chloe Thomas

One for the sellers out there, Customer Persuasion is the bible for putting the customer at the heart of your business. Allow Chloë Thomas – author, podcast host, and founder of eCommerce MasterPlan – to guide you with her system for growing your sales. Through her wisdom, you'll learn why it's essential to embrace persuasion in marketing and work out which part of your business needs the most attention.

10. What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro

Now the curveball – a book from an ex-FBI agent that teaches you the ancient survival instincts that drive body language, and the most powerful behaviours that reveal our confidence and true sentiments. If you're going to be in the business of persuasion, then Joe Navarro's insights will help you to 'speed read' people, decode sentiments and behaviours, avoid hidden pitfalls, and look for deceptive behaviours. You'll also learn how your own body language can influence what others think of you.


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