Found 38 comments on HN
chrisco255 · 2019-03-10 · Original thread
Study persuasion and communication.

* Robert Cialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion * Jeff Cannon's "Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals" * Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People"

Attend Public Speaking workshops. If there's a ToastMasters club in your area, join it. Improv can be another great way to learn how to get "less rigid" and more open with your communication style.

pygy_ · 2019-02-25 · Original thread
So you agree with me, but still want to ridicule my argument ("parody of itself")? I'm also quite surprised to see a statistician use anecdata as arguments.

Humans are predictably irrational, there are mountains of scientific evidence on the topic [0, 1].

The industry plays us like fiddles to get us to consume ever more. There are more parameters than the ones I described above (socialization and long term hormonal effects come to mind), but the growth of the food industry is the main driver behind the obesity epidemics.

All that food has to be bought, otherwise there's no growth, and investors are not happy and they put their money elsewhere.

The easiest way to convince people to buy food is to make them want to eat it. Modern food has been engineered and optimized to be deceptive and take advantage of our instinctive and cognitive biases, in order to get us to eat more than we need to be healthy.



Maultasche · 2019-02-06 · Original thread
One book I remember well is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (

That really made me aware of all the things people do to try to influence other people. I probably read that book 15 years ago, but I still recognize sales tactics based on principles in that book. It helped me to be more aware of attempts at manipulation when people are trying to sell things. It had a big effect on what I noticed going on in the world.

It's really more about human psychology and how people attempt to influence each other than it is a book about selling.

neom · 2018-10-01 · Original thread
Not sure if these count as textbooks by most peoples measures, but they have been textbooks for me.

[1]Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

[2]The Wal-Mart Triumph: Inside the World’s #1 Company

[3]Guerilla Marketing

[4]The Lords of Strategy

[5]Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

[6] The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

[7]The Deming Management Method

[8]Creativity Inc.

[9]The Wisdom of Teams

[10]On Communication

[11]On Managing Yourself

[12]The Art of Facilitation

[13]Death by Meeting

[14]Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning

[15]Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

justinclift · 2018-06-26 · Original thread
As a thought, you might find Robert Cialdini's book "Influence" useful:

He gave a talk covering the same subject matter too, which is faster to grok if that's your kind of thing.

After reading/watching this stuff, these kind of scams become incredibly transparent. And it's fairly ugh to see fellow humans subsequently get sucked in by them.

BeetleB · 2018-05-02 · Original thread
I see posts like these once in a while on HN.

I suggest folks read some good books on conversations and negotiations.


Nonviolent Communications:

Crucial Conversations:

Difficult Conversations:

Negotiation books:

Bargaining For Advantage:

Getting To Yes:

Getting Past No (billed as a negotiations book, but really more of a conversations book):

I strongly recommend reading Influence before you read these - much of what is in the books above will make more sense once you've read Influence.

When you read these, keep in mind: Change is hard. Don't expect to read these and become good communicators quickly. It may take a few years of stumbling and practice.

I see a mixture of comments agreeing and disagreeing with the original submission. For those who disagree: Most of what the author is saying is in agreement with what the books say:

If your goal is to change someone, you will either fail, or will succeed at the cost of the relationship (and relationships at work do matter).

Another important related point: If you cannot summarize why the other person is acting this way without using phrases like "stubborn", "irrational" or similar negatives, then it means you have no idea about the other person's concerns and motives, and are being lazy. It is easier to label, and much harder to probe effectively. Additionally, people often act stubborn because they realize you are not really interested in their perspective. Internally their thought process (which is very rational) is "This person does not really want to hear me out, so I'm not going to invoke too many neurons engaging with him and will just dig in my heels." - which is why a lot of books focus a lot on listening skills (which includes skills to signal that you are listening - you may in reality be listening just fine but the other person does not know it - so you signal it by summarizing their stance).

A lot of the comments here are invoking false dichotomies. Since HN has a comment limit, I'll address some here:

>I don't believe you can have a successful software team with individuals who can't take a code review well.

This is tangential. You can give feedback in a code review poorly, or efficiently. Both ways allow for you to point out problems with the other's code. One way will not be taken well. The other way has a higher chance of being taken well. A big step forward is to realize you can have your cake and eat it too.

>I started to try and reason with people with carefully crafted questions to guide them towards my goal.

Leading questions is a bad idea (all the communications books say it). Learn how to state your concerns. It is OK to ask questions if genuinely curious. But if you want to point something out, learn how to state it in a non-defensive manner.

(3 separate comments below):

>If Kara's emotions and defensiveness can't handle a clearly articulated, rational, objective argument against design decisions, then for the sake of the product and the company, she probably needs to find another job. Avoiding discussions doesn't work for me.

>Learned to let go and he has his parts of the code base and I have mine.

>And this is how you end up with a terrible, in-cohesive product.

Again, false dichotomies. The solution is not to be quiet and let it go. The solution is to learn how to talk about the issues effectively. One of the books calls this "The Fool's Choice" - thinking that either you have to be quiet and not air your concerns (to save relationships), or that you have to air them and damage the relationship.

>It's either you convince them, or perhaps they convince you. Logic wins.

Logic alone rarely wins. One key point in one of the books: Don't pretend that emotions should not be part of the decision making process. The reality is that emotions are already part of the decision making process. If you get angry that someone cannot take your feedback well, emotions are present.

>It's safe to assume Kara wrote this article.

It is safe to assume that the author of this comment is unwilling to question his views on the topic.

That's what assumptions get you.

>I have seen more technical damage done by nice and competent people deferring to bullies in the workplace than by legitimate disagreements expressed passionately.

Another false dichotomy. What the submission describes is normal among non-bullies.

>The flaw here is that you assume that "Kara" will learn from her mistakes. Not always the case.

It is a similar flaw to assume that merely telling her what mistakes she made will make her learn from them. Definitely often not the case.

pygy_ · 2018-03-25 · Original thread
> But you're still an adult who is fully responsible for your actions.

That's what the law says, and maybe what you believe but there is a lot of scientific evidence to the contrary.

See and for an oversight of (some of) the ways you can be manipulated.

tmuir · 2018-03-13 · Original thread
"There's no words that can make robots out of people"

How do you explain cults? How do you explain the effects of advertising? How do you explain the uniform levels of discipline achieved by basic training? How do you explain phone scammers? How do you explain the success of the public relations industry? How do you explain Bernie Madoff? How do you explain cigarette smokers? How do you explain the effects of what we refer to as echo chambers? Everyone of these consists of people being programmed or brainwashed in one way or another.

You hear the word brainwashing and immediately think of someone thats hypnotized, or a zombie, the typical hollywood trope. But its a far more common thing.

If you're interested in reading about this, there is a book by a psychologist named Robert Cialdini, called Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion.

One interesting persuasion trick is to start with extreme opening bids in negotiation, and then back off to what you really want. This is how the actors of Watergate were able to convince others to go along with the plan to break in to the Watergate. The original plan was far more involved, with a $1,000,000 budget, and included kidnappings. G Gordon Liddy used this as an extreme opening bid, and eventually convinced everyone that what eventually took place was a reasonable compromise. After, its not like they kidnapped anyone, and they only needed $250,000.

  - Nassim N. Taleb: Black Swan and Antifragile[0]
  - Robert Cialdini: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion[1]
  - Franklin Foer: World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech[2]
  - Herbert Marcuse: One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society[3]




joekim · 2017-04-06 · Original thread
Whether or not you have the "right" to be rude, I think the more cordial we are the more we can align around learning through discussion.

If someone is rude to someone who's mistaken that could help them unlearn something, but more likely they will become more entrenched because of consistency principle.

Cialdini talks a lot about consistency principle in his book the "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion"

BeetleB · 2017-03-31 · Original thread
>It seems to me that the biggest difference is the extent to which the average internet user gets his content from other internet users (reddit, facebook, twitter, etc) instead of designated content creators with reputations to uphold.

This is as old as humanity, and has always been the case for the majority. See the chapter "Social Proof" in the book "Influence":

dano · 2017-03-03 · Original thread
Check out the classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

BeetleB · 2017-02-25 · Original thread
I just gave a presentation at work about how we're ridiculously overeducated on technical skills, and ridiculously undereducated on social dynamics.

I mean, I solved more complex technical problems in my undergrad than I've ever had to in my career.

My suggestion: While you may want to master a technical skill or two, become good at what they don't teach you:

Negotiation skills:

The Coursera course from the University of Michigan is decent, if you don't want to read. But the other course (from Yale?) - I would not recommend that as a starter.

Communication Skills:


(His work is often cited in other books - especially related to negotiations).


Finally, a word of advice. Most of us here on HN have no trouble reading stuff and grasping its content. Internalizing it, though, will take work. So don't run away reading all these books. Pick one topic (e.g. negotiation), and read up on it. Take notes (I forget 80% of what I've read after a few months). And try to practice it.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Just focus on one till you feel you are good at it (perhaps for a year). Then pick another topic.

hvd · 2014-12-08 · Original thread
For me it was 1.Influence: It talks about how the brain has certain preprogrammed sequences for situations. 2.Predictably Irrational Again about the hidden mechanisms with which we make decisions and our reptile brain.
lettergram · 2014-03-12 · Original thread
I liked the article, the standard book on the subject is:

I know there are some techniques I use from the book that helped me significantly.

phodo · 2014-01-15 · Original thread
If anyone is interested, the buckets mentioned are derived from a book by Cialdini (I didn't read the paper to see if properly attributed - probably was) that I read in grad school, and has had an impact on how I think about negotiation, business, marketing, product, etc. It's one of those great books whose lessons you carry with you many years later. Hope you find it useful.

mherdeg · 2013-11-05 · Original thread
Something about the human instinct to pattern-match compels me to point out that this is the "reciprocity" principle of influence spelled out by Cialdini's 1984 book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion", .
profquail · 2013-06-04 · Original thread
Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is easily one of the most interesting books I've ever read. It's not long and it's an easy read too -- I'd highly recommend reading it:

GFischer · 2013-01-18 · Original thread
I'm not the OP, and I haven't read these books, but many people swear by:

Influence: the psychology of persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

One I HAVE read, and I strongly recommend is How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Also, I've read many people mention a lot about Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I'm usually skeptical of this stuff, but I want to read about it.

I did read "The Game" by Neil Strauss... while it is not something I want to do, it is really intriguing, and he advocates NLP a lot in that book.

And while I'm nerdish/socially awkward, I have a long-term relationship with my girlfriend so I don't "need" to go picking up girls :) .

I look forward to the original poster's list :)

misterbwong · 2012-11-16 · Original thread
The book INFLUENCE does a good job of categorizing and explaining these factors. Though a lot of it comes off as common sense, I never realized how widespread these tactics were until I read this book. I highly recommend it.

konradb · 2012-09-23 · Original thread
Biggest set of hustling tips you'll get (not to discount your site, OP):
wallawe · 2012-08-06 · Original thread
If you've ever read a book called "Influence: The Art of Persuasion" [1] you'll recall a story about a store that sold rocks in New Mexico. The woman who owned the store was trying to offload all of her turquoise during peak tourist season, so she set the price a lot lower than normal. Although this was the most popular sell typically, fewer people started buying thus having the reverse effect of what she wanted. She relocated the stones' showcase to the front and center of the store. Sales plummeted further.

As she left for a short vacation, she left a note for one of her employees to drop the price to half of what it already was, and at least try to make a little bit of money back. But the employee misread the note and accidentally doubled the price of the turquoise. By the time the store owner got back, the rocks had sold out, at DOUBLE the price.

The store owner contacted the author of the book, a psychologist (I forget why) and he explained the reasoned this may have happened. Most of her customers were affluent and wealthy tourists who had been under the subconscious impression that you get what you pay for. When they saw high-priced stones, they knew that they were getting quality stones, at least that's what they had been led to believe through years of dealings.

This is why this guy's experiment will work and is a great idea. He is probably no more skilled than many of the hackers on here, but he stands out with his exorbitant price tag and some companies figure, 'hey, you get what you pay for.' This is especially true in the business world. So regardless of the fact he may not be worth it, or may not possess superior abilities, if he is getting the money which I hypothesize he will, more power to him.


dirkdeman · 2012-05-19 · Original thread
As a PR and communications major I can help you with that. I can recommend these two books: And

Do keep in mind that PR is something different than marketing or advertisement. Those people running around, dropping names and 'generating spin'? That's just a very tiny part of PR. PR is about shaping the public opinion, not just one person's mind.

On a side note, I wrote my thesis on wartime propaganda. I found out that the strongest motivator for people to take action is fear. The fear of losing something, missing out, or a common enemy (think Apple-Android!) is very powerful.

On a second side note, I read another comment about lying. Lying isn't right of course, but there are several degrees of lying. And imagine if know how to sell a lie, how easy it would be to sell righteous truth...

Drop me a line if you need some help or advice. I'm by no means an expert on PR in Silicon Valley, but I know a thing or two about PR.

lpolovets · 2011-11-25 · Original thread
Category 1:

- Simple Heuristics That Make Use Smart by Gigerenzer, et al. ( I have heard good things about this book but have not read it yet.

Category 2:

- Think Twice by Mauboussin (

- Influence by Cialdini (

Category 3:

- You already mentioned Michalko, but his other book, Thinkertoys, is also very good (

Category 5:

- Switch by the Heath brothers is excellent (

Alex3917 · 2011-11-09 · Original thread
For what it's worth, most of these examples (and more) are in Cialdini's book Influence:

arkitaip · 2011-06-07 · Original thread
Two great research oriented books on the topic of persuasion and behavior modification are "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" and "White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts". Highly recommend them for people looking for more than opinions over overviews.

gruseom · 2010-11-18 · Original thread
That's interesting, because Cialdini's classic Influence covers this same ground ( Has anyone read both books? I'm curious as to whether Superfreakonomics added anything over Cialdini's treatment.
lhnz · 2010-06-30 · Original thread
Good point, and I'll add that this book is a good place to get started:
mos1 · 2010-01-27 · Original thread
Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion by Cialdini.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to We Usability, by Steve Krug:

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large Scale Web Sites, by Paul Rosenfeld and Peter Morville:

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, by Paco Underhill

And at least one Jakob Nielsen Usability book.

ShabbyDoo · 2009-05-17 · Original thread
I'm reading this book now but prefer Caldini's _Influence_ ( because it takes a more systematic approach to understanding what persuades others. For example, a chapter is dedicated to "social proof" and relevant experiments showing its power and subtleties are discussed.
If you have never read it, I recommend checking out "The Psychology of Persuasion":

It's a fascinating examination of persuasion. It covers selling, business, cults, authority - a great and practical intro to some of the research and results in the field.

ShabbyDoo · 2009-05-03 · Original thread
This is the book referenced (no referral fee links, btw):

I've read it and even bought a second copy to lend out. It's that good.

rivo · 2009-04-19 · Original thread
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The Definitive Book of Body Language

+1 to How to Win Friends & Influence People

soundsop · 2009-04-15 · Original thread
For immediate negotiating help, I recommend the book You Can Negotiate Anything:

For longer term and more general help with persuasion tactics (which might be used to get you to agree to a lower offer), I recommend Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini:

You will easily recover the cost of these two books using the knowledge from them.

jkkramer · 2008-12-23 · Original thread
I would be more inclined to do this if the book is non-technical. When you commit to reading a technical book, you're committing yourself to more than just the time spent reading: you're committing yourself to the time spent applying and fully understanding what you read -- installing tools, tinkering with syntax, coding, and so on. I've got enough of that now.

With non-technical books (literature, history, quality-of-life), most of the time will be invested into actual reading, with a bit of pondering and maybe discussing. We can have a conversation right away, and there's still knowledge and insight to be gained.

Here are some non-technical books I'd like to read:

* How to Read a Book -

* Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion -

* Liar's Poker -

* Growing a Business -

icey · 2008-08-07 · Original thread
If you're really interested in it, there is a psychology book out there that's actually a great basis for getting started:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini:

It's marketed as a business / marketing book, but it is probably on the book shelf of every one of the magicians / mentalists that this article refers to.

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