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I recently recommended Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion as the best-ever book on persuasion techniques. And I stand by that recommendation. It’s a remarkably rich and insightful book.

But at 280 densely-packed pages, many will find it overwhelming. Those with busy schedules (which doubtless includes most readers of this blog) just won’t have the time to finish it.

What’s a more approachable option? What’s a quick and easy — yet highly informative — read for the busy practitioner?

For my money, it’s another Cialdini effort, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive.

Co-written by Noah Goldstein and Steve J Martin, this thought-provoking book takes 60 years of research on persuasion, and distills it into a short and breezy read.

The authors argue that persuasion is largely science, rather than art. As such, there are certain principles — often counterintuitive — that can be applied with predictable results.

The book then breaks into 50 short, totally independent chapters. Typically 3-5 pages each, chapters include:

  • A brief teaser, or introduction to the topic
  • A review of a relevant study
  • Suggestions: how you could, ethically, put the principle to use

It’s a fun read. Chapters cover topics like:

  • What one word can increase persuasiveness by 50%?
  • How do you create lasting commitments?
  • Which item of stationery can dramatically increase people’s responses to your requests?
  • How can you win over your rivals by inconveniencing them?
  • Why does knowing that so many dentists are named Dennis improve your persuasive prowess?
  • Does fear persuade or does it paralyze?
  • Why did sales of jam multiply tenfold when consumers were offered many fewer flavors?
  • What’s the hidden danger of being the brightest person in the room?

Yes! is useful for both social and business situations. And since it’s divided into such easily-digestible chunks, it’s the ideal book to keep on your desk and pick up whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Highly recommended.