The best books on influencing people ethically

Terry R. Bacon Author Of Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead
By Terry R. Bacon

Who am I?

I am a graduate of West Point and a student of military and political leadership. From that foundation, I devoted much of my professional life to researching power and influence and understanding how leaders create impact in business and life. As an educator, counselor, and founder of an international firm on executive development, I created courses on influence to help others become more effective at management and leadership through the ethical uses of influence. I want passionately to know the difference between towering leaders like Abraham Lincoln and manipulative scoundrels like Bernie Madoff, and I’m fascinated by what influences people to take one path rather than another.

I wrote...

Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead

By Terry R. Bacon,

Book cover of Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead

What is my book about?

Influence is the art of getting others to take your lead—to believe something or do something you want them to do. The most effective leaders excel at influencing others ethically. Based on decades of research, this book describes the methods ethical leaders use to influence others through logical persuasion, modeling, negotiating, socializing, inspiring, and questioning.  

Elements of Influence reveals the basics you need to generate more positive outcomes in both business and life: how to pick up on the societal and cultural cues that reveal others’ motivations and unlock the secrets to getting what you want while satisfying others in the process. You’ll also learn how frauds and bullies try to get their way through threats, intimidation, and manipulation—and how to counter their tactics.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why did I love this book?

Carnegie’s book, first published in 1936, was the first to elaborate on how to use interpersonal skills to influence people. His time-tested advice includes how to handle people (give honest appreciation), how to make people like you (be genuinely interested in others), how to win them to your way of thinking (if you’re wrong, admit it quickly), and how to lead without giving offense or arousing resentment (ask questions instead of giving orders). This book does not cover all the techniques of ethical influence, but its fundamental principles are sound, even if many examples are dated. How to Win Friends and Influence People was a best seller in its time and remains a popular book today.

By Dale Carnegie,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked How to Win Friends and Influence People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Millions of people around the world have - and continue to - improve their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.

His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to:
- make friends quickly and easily
- increase your popularity
- win people to your way of thinking
- enable you to win new clients and customers
- become a…

Book cover of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Why did I love this book?

People frequently make decisions emotionally and then justify those decisions with logic. That’s why emotional intelligence is so important in understanding how to influence others. Goleman’s book popularized the concept of emotional intelligence and made it more accessible. In it, he discusses the importance of knowing yourself and your feelings and being able to regulate your emotions productively. The core of the book addresses social skills, empathy, and understanding what motivates others when they make decisions—and these are crucial skills in influencing others. While Goleman’s book does not directly address influencing skills, he lays the foundations for the social and emotional approaches to influence very effectively.

By Daniel Goleman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Emotional Intelligence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking bestseller that redefines intelligence and success Does IQ define our destiny? Daniel Goleman argues that our view of human intelligence is far too narrow, and that our emotions play major role in thought, decision making and individual success. Self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, motivation, empathy and social deftness are all qualities that mark people who excel: whose relationships flourish, who are stars in the workplace. With new insights into the brain architecture underlying emotion and rationality, Goleman shows precisely how emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened in all of us.

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why did I love this book?

Cialdini’s landmark book was among the first to explore the psychological factors that affect how people make decisions. Rather than using a rational process, people most often decide what to do, how to act, or what to believe based on rules of thumb and decision-making shortcuts including reciprocity, scarcity, authority, commitment and consistency, liking, and consensus or social proof. Although these factors can lead to unethical forms of influence, such as manipulation, it is important to understand the psychological bases of decision making, whether you are trying to influence others ethically or trying to resist unsavory attempts by others to influence you.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman,

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Why did I love this book?

Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow is the most comprehensive book I have ever read on human cognitive processes and the assumptions, biases, intuitions, misconceptions, fears, frameworks, psychological influences (many unconscious) that drive how we perceive the world and how we reach conclusions. No one paints a better picture of the mental landscape we traverse as we make choices. So if you want to understand the rational side of influence, replete with all its challenges, barriers, and pitfalls, then this is the book to read. Thinking, Fast and Slow is virtually an encyclopedia of the rational and irrational elements of influence.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? 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,…

Book cover of Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business

Why did I love this book?

Whether you are selling yourself or a product, communicating your message effectively is a key to success, and it doesn’t matter if you are trying to influence people through logical persuasion or appealing to their values. Storytelling is as old as humanity and has been a moving and lasting way to communicate. Kindra Hall’s bestselling book on storytelling is a fascinating textbook on the art and science of creating and delivering stories that resonate with audiences and influence people’s decisions. This is one of the best books I’ve read on how to craft compelling messages.

By Kindra Hall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stories That Stick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A clear framework of ideals and a concise set of actions for you to take complete control of your own story, utilizing the principles behind the world's most effective business storytelling strategies..

You keep hearing how story is the latest-and-greatest business tool, and that storytelling can do everything-from helping leaders better communicate to motivating sales teams and winning customers away from competitors.

But what stories do you need to tell? And how do you tell them?

In Stories That Stick, Kindra Hall, professional storyteller and nationally-known speaker, reveals the four unique stories you can use to differentiate, captivate, and elevate:…

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