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The Rules of Influence


Book reviews > The Rules of Influence


Crano, W.D. (2012). The Rules of Influence, NY: St Martin's Press


Imagine you are in a minority in a larger group of people. That you have different ideas and want to persuade the majority that what you want is important and that they should listen to you and take your needs into account, even though they could easily ignore you.

This is a common situation with which you may be familiar, and one that is the focus of this book. It is deliberately not a tome on everyday persuasion, a field that is covered by many books. The focus here is minority influence. It is about how David can do something useful about the Goliaths in his life.

The author, William Crano has good credibility in this field. Not only is he a University Professor, he is also the co-author of a number of other psychology books, notably including excellent 'The Psychology of Attitudes and Attitude Change' (written with Joseph Forgas and Joel Cooper).

As is pointed out, majorities rule with an implied threat that they could coerce if needed. Not necessarily physically, but for example by withholding of resources, effectively besieging those they would persuade. Minority influence has to be different as individuals and small groups seldom have significant resource or position.

This book, then, written by an academic with a focus on minority influence, is a walk through the extensive literature on how minorities achieve their goals, drawing out the key rules that individuals and small groups can use to their surprisingly significant advantage. And it does it well, in a very readable way.

Rules include:

  1. The 'us' factor - the need to be accepted as in-group, even though you are a minority.
  2. Be persistent - neither retreat nor compromise.
  3. Be consistent - stick to the same message.
  4. Be unanimous - everyone in the minority clearly agrees.
  5. Remain flexible - being able to cope with varying circumstances

It also considers how the majority tends to treat the minority and the consequent responses that are needed. As in any competitive situation, if you understand your opponent's strategies and tactics then you can neutralize or counteract them.

Majority rules include:

  1. Emphasize the minority's out-group status
  2. Claim the minority's demands threaten group viability
  3. Raise the threat of minority self-esteem
  4. Analyze the appeal and counter

Written for a wide audience, the book does not have the close-packed references of an academic work, though is clearly based on sound research, making it a very helpful manual for people in a minority situation.

Although there are a few diagrams and breakouts, given the consumer audience more attention to visual design would have helped make the book more readable and digestible.

The book does not offer a magic wand, and rightly so as there is none. It does, however, provide solid help for struggling individuals and small groups that is far more useful than simple opinion or limited experience.



Buy Me

William D. Crano, The Rules of Influence (winning when you're in the minority), St. Martin's Press, NY, 2012

A readable book on how minorities can influence majorities. Written by an academic for a wider audience, it has strong and reliable content that can be of real use to its target audience.



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