Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

A book i’ll highly recommend is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

6 key principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocity – People tend to return a favor, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. The good cop/bad cop strategy is also based on this principle.
  • Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self image. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy. Cialdini notes Chinese brainwashing on American prisoners of war to rewrite their self image and gain automatic unenforced compliance. See cognitive dissonance.
  • Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
  • Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  • Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
  • Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.

Advice to the Young on Their Wedding Day

By Patrick Caneday

This article was previously published on The Good Men Project.

What would you tell two starry-eyed lovers about to embark on the rosy path of marriage? That’s the question my brother and his fiancée asked me to answer in a “short” speech on their wedding day. I told them there is no such thing. A short speech on marriage is like a “quick hike” to the summit of Mt. Everest.

After seriously questioning their judgment in people to turn to for advice, I tried to think of anything I’ve learned in my happy marriage that I could offer them.

First and foremost, I told them, be friends. In tough times, you’ll need to return to the safety and security of that friendship to see you through. And in good times, well, in good times you get to be “friends with benefits.”

Marriage is about the long, slow journey; the moments, simple daily moments. Lively bedroom conversations that last deep into the night; long, speechless road trips through the desert. The time she threw out her back and was paralyzed with pain and screaming little ones so you caught the first flight back from a business trip in Las Vegas. Or when you gave her bad directions and got her lost for hours in dark mountain woods late at night on that family vacation. These are the moments that make up a path stretching far into a future that you can’t see or imagine.

Strive for trust and stability, not excitement and adventure. That’s not to say you won’t have the latter. You will. But adventure and excitement are the reward you get for first achieving trust and stability.

Marriage is about letting each other do the things that make you crazy. Don’t argue over the little things like how she lets knives dry in the drying rack tips up; or how much you hate that old, worn out pair of pants he’s owned for 15 years. When he tells you the same story for the fiftieth time, and each time it’s gotten more fanciful, smile, nod and tell him what a great story it is. There are just some things men and women will never fix in each other. And they may best be left unfixed.

Rather than trying to change each other, learn to love each other for exactly who you each are. Be honest with each other, even if it hurts. Marriage is about allowing someone to hurt you and still loving them; it’s about hurting them back and finding they still love you. Let that person tell you everything that is wrong with you, all the things you already knew but could never face alone. Then get over it.

Argue. Challenge each other. Push each other to do good and be better. Know that the baggage and issues you each bring into this partnership don’t magically disappear on your wedding day. In fact, they’ll most likely intensify. Be prepared to battle not only your own demons in the years to come, but each other’s.

You are allowed to freak out at any time, and in fact it’s encouraged. But not at the same time. One of you always has to be the safe harbor, the one that says, “Get over it!” or “There, there, everything will be all right,” even when you don’t know if it will.

Laugh. Laugh as much as possible, at yourself and each other. But always laugh at yourself first. It’s unfair and unkind to laugh at others if you haven’t first proven yourself to be an equal or greater fool.

Find your balance with each other. To use a sports analogy, you need a starting pitcher and a closer. My wife knows that it may take me years to start a household project. But if she starts it — painting a room or tearing up the hideous green carpet in the living room — I can’t help but jump in to see it through. If she doesn’t do her part, the job will never get started. If I don’t do mine, it will never get done … right.

A rough road lies ahead. Arguments, money struggles, interior decorating decisions, filing jointly. But something even more wonderful is about to come your way: Routine. Stability. Knowing. And at last comfort. A comfort you’ve never known was possible. A comfort that allows you to be your sloppy, world-weary, beaten-down and annoying self; the person behind that façade that said you had everything under control. You don’t have to hide it anymore. None of that will change how the other feels about you. And that peace is so much greater than the excitement in the newness of love. You think love can’t get any better than the way you feel right now. But trust me. It does.

Stop caring about the things that the rest of the world cares about — image, income and new toys, Benghazi, fiscal cliffs or any Kardashian. Don’t compare yourself to any other couples you know. Focus solely on each other. It’s now you two, as one, against the world.

Long after the honeymoon take time each day to remember the feeling that brought you together on your wedding day — that magical sense of knowing that this was the person you’ve been waiting for all these years. The feeling that isolated you two from the rest of the world and made you pity everyone else, for surely no one else has ever felt a love, knowing and joy like this before. Keep that feeling for yourselves like a firefly in a jar and put it up on your dresser. Bring it down at least once each day, open it up for a moment and remember.

As I was putting these thoughts down on paper, I received an email from my brother, and he said this:

“Yesterday was a long day. Woke up early, went to work, got home, cooked dinner, unpacked boxes in the new house, put beds together, collapsed into bed. This could have been any long day, with the exception that I was collapsing next to her. We didn’t say anything to each other; we were too tired. She simply put her hand on my back as we fell asleep together. It was the warmest, most reassuring hand I’ve ever felt.”

And with that I realized that there was nothing more I could say.

Love story



“Does someone we love have to be perfect in every sense of the word before we make our decision? Is our decision based on a risk factor? Is our decision based on what is the probability of the person leaving you?

And i thought to myself one day, if next week I had leukaemia, he would still want to marry me. And that’s when i knew that this was the right person.”

– Wei Jia

Beautifully imperfect



“It’s these small things that you remember. The little imperfections that make them perfect for you.

So to my beautiful children, I hope that you too will find life partners who are as beautifully imperfect as your father was to me.”

The power of words

Yesterday, the new hire of 3 weeks was fired. One of our clients casually commented 2 weeks earlier that he might not be suitable for the position. Clearly, the comment stayed with her. Instead of moving him to a different portfolio, my boss decided to let him go.

In another instance, my boss did not confirm another ex-colleague after the 3 month probation period. He has been pursuing his interest since Feb 2012 and still gets nightmares of my boss. Let’s just say it didn’t end on a pleasant note.

The power of words.

As we learn to be more discerning, we should be more careful about the words we utter.


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Received flowers at office today without a card. It was unnerving trying to figure out who sent me the flowers. It would be awkward if the person I asked wasn’t the person who sent.

The other picture was a kiddy picture I painted during an art jamming session with YY.

The last is a photo of me that I thought looked quite funny.

We came, We conquered, We left

Nee commented that my blog is boring. I presume that was a hint for me to blog about them. Hurhur. So here it goes:

After 13 years of friendship, we decided to make to trip to Batam together. We arrived at Harbourfront Centre at 915am (as always, nee was late) to realise that the ferry tickets to Harbour Bay are sold out. Luckily we were able to secure tickets with the only other operator, and off we sailed to Batam. It’s funny how unprepared we were for the trip.

To summarise, we basically spent all our time at Nagoya mall shopping, pampering ourselves and stuffing our faces with food. 3 hour massage, 2 dresses, Mani, pedi, and lots of food later, I found myself S$300 poorer but 1000x happier. It’s been a while since we hung out so it was nice just having some quality time together. The highlight of the trip was when we were just lying on the bed, having the usual girly chats- updating and gossiping. (would like to note down that nee was sleeping throughout our conversation but was kind enough to murmur and asked if we were talking about T. hurhur)

Anyway, it struck me that the girls have now changed their stance from a nonchalent “i’m not getting married any time soon” to a “i would like to get married and settle down.” (the key question of course, is with who?) We are at the time of our lives where the people around us are starting to settle down and its unnerving to attend weddings after weddings. Fortunately for me, I don’t feel the pressure as much because the people I hang out with frequently are mostly single.

Back to the trip, we headed off to the ferry terminal at 1pm the next day to realise that the ferries have been fully booked till 730pm. It might not be convenient to reveal exactly what we did to get all our asses on the next ferry at 2pm, but let’s just say, nee emerged as the daring gangster.

To our friendship..

Who am I?

I realise that people who are agnostic have a very strong sense of self. I am who I am today because of the choices I made. They dislike the uncertainty that a religion brings and prefer to take sole responsibility for their actions. If something went well, it’s because of a mixture of hardwork and luck. If something went badly, it is because of the choices they made. Any possible references that suggest otherwise makes them uncomfortable because “science” have yet to prove it.

It is always good to see things from a different perspective. As long as it makes the person happy, I guess that’s most important. They take responsibility for their own actions instead shirking it away. I must say though, it’s just interesting to see how an agnostic passionately dispell the notion of God, raising their pitch slightly higher as they try to convince you of their logic and reasoning.

I chanced upon this article that I’ll like to share:

A question of identity: who am I?

Asking the question “who am I?” can elicit an innumerable amount of responses. Despite this, most of those responses will be predictable. Yet, from the stand point of Buddhism and physics, the often elusive question of “who am I” is made infinitely more profound.

When entertaining the question “who am I?”, most responses reflect that which the individual identifies him or herself with. “I am a lawyer”, “I am a mother”, “I am a spiritual person,” “I am a good friend,” are examples of typical responses; responses that reveal a basic nature of humans to establish their identity on a life role, on a behavior, or a belief system.

Precarious ways to define the self Basing identity on a role, a behavior, a belief, or the physical body is both common and seemingly natural. The problem is that to base identity on any of these things has definite draw backs. Basing identity on a role or occupation leads to problem when a person’s role or occupation changes. Children leaving home or loss off a career can lead to a crisis, if a person links their identity as being a parent or to the career. The same is true with the body. Being blessed with great looks or physical athleticism may be great for the ego but what happens when the body starts to break down? Even identifying with a belief comes at a cost as it can lead to rigid thinking and a resistance to taking in new information.

The illusions of separateness Both Buddhist teachings and quantum physics take the question of identity to an entirely different realm. Beyond culture indoctrination and the sensory limitations of the body, lies the intuitive view of man’s true nature as seen from a Buddhist perspective. The Buddhist concept of non-substantiality provides deeper understanding to what constitutes a living or nonliving being.

Non-substantiality states that nothing in life has an own unique entity. A table is not a unique entity on to its self. A table exists due to the temporary union of “non table” components, including trees, the soil, water, sun, and carbon dioxide, the lumber jack who chopped down the tree or the craftsman who build the table. The table is a culmination of all these different factors. If any of these factors were absent the table could not exist.

For those who anchor their sense of identity of to the physical body, both physics and biology pose an additional challenge: which body is being identified with? The human body is constantly losing and creating new cells. Almost every part of the human body is being replaced through the ongoing process of cell division. An individual’s body today is not the same body from ten years ago. From the atomic level, the body is indistinguishable from the environment, with both the body and environment exchanging molecules on an on going basis.

To base identity on the mind poses a problem as well. Where is the mind located? Buddhism and other spiritual teachings do not regard the brain as mind. The mind lacks physical form, nor does is it occupy space. Rather, the brain is compared to a radio tower, while the mind is compared to radio waves. Some Eastern philosophies believe that the mind is not the source of consciousness; rather, consciousness creates the mind, the body, and everything else.

Perhaps in the end, “who am I” is the exercise of the intellect, attempting to convince itself of its uniqueness, its separateness, trying to preserve a dualistic view of life to maintain an illusion of self.