Centre for Continuing Education

The Psychology of Influence Course

Psychology. Explore the human mind.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

Influence is the ability to guide someone’s thinking, decisions or actions. Although some people seem to be ‘born’ influencers, it is possible to learn how to influence. Doing this can help you change others' minds, shift the direction of a conversation, get your point across and have an impact in situations where you don’t have formal authority. Discover what it takes to be a skilled influencer. See how to apply principles from applied psychology to real-life influencing situations. Hear how to create a persuasive message and deliver it in written or spoken format. Suitable for professionals who manage relationships, interact with customers, work in teams, provide consulting services or need to ‘manage up’ effectively.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • understand how key concepts from social psychology can be used to improve the persuasiveness of your communication
  • take an ethical approach to influencing in business contexts
  • apply six principles of influence to everyday work situations
  • use a four-step process to structure and present a compelling message
  • identify and match motivational drivers to increase receptivity to your message
  • use influential language patterns to speak persuasively
  • handle objections and resistance by using principle based negotiation tools.


This is an introductory course. It presents a range of robust, evidence-based techniques from social psychology in an accessible, experiential format. The presenter will introduce you to theory, principles and processes using mini-lectures and video examples. You will also participate in written exercises, group discussions and small group activities. The aim of this approach is to give you practical experience in using positive psychology techniques. You will gain the most from this class if you are prepared to participate, ask questions and learn from you classmates.

Topic 1: What is influence?

Learn what influence is. Understand how social and individual factors impact on your ability to exert influence. Explore models of influence proposed by key thinkers such as Aristotle, Harold Lasswell, Carl Hovland, William McGuire, Philiip Zimbardo, Dale Carnegie and Robert Cialdini. Understand how these models can be applied in today’s business world. Discuss the difference between influence and manipulation. Consider the importance of ethics when influencing in professional situations. See how to apply principles of ethical influence in business contexts.

Topic 2: Six principles to boost your influence

Discuss practical ways you can apply Professor Robert Cialdini’s research on influence. Learn how effective influencers use six key principles to persuade and engage. These principles are reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority and
scarcity. Watch examples of these principles in action. Develop a plan for using each principle in your work context.

Topic 3: Steps for success

Turn theory into action with a simple four step process for planning and implementing an influencing approach. Learn why structured planning will boost your effectiveness as a communicator. Discover the benefits of actively building rapport before seeking to influence. Hear why changing the wording of your message can make you more persuasive. Find out why preparation will help you handle objections and resistance to your message. The remainder will be spent learning practical techniques for applying these ideas.

Topic 4: Planning your approach

Influence is like public speaking: you’ll get better results if you plan before you speak. Try out a simple template for planning your influencing strategy. Define your outcome for an influencing attempt. Identify the motivational drivers which impact on how someone make decisions. Design an argument which will align with an individual’s drivers and make it more appealing to them. Identify potential objections and plan to pre-empt or address them.

Topic 5: Building rapport and linking to needs

Explore the art of using verbal and nonverbal behaviour to build rapport. Rapport is a state of mutual understanding. It enhances receptivity during communication. Discuss ways of applying Cialdini’s principle of liking when connecting with others. Experiment with using coordinated movement to enhance rapport. Use active listening techniques to detect others' needs and concerns. Use cognitive and affective matching techniques to address those needs – so that your message becomes more compelling and gets through to your listener.

Topic 6: Using persuasive language patterns

Learn how concepts from psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics can boost your ability to influence and persuade. Use the principles of ‘persuasive argumentation’ to structure a compelling message. Discover why some figures of speech are more persuasive than others. Then learn how to apply these figures of speech to real-life situations such as public speaking or one-to-one influencing attempts. Language patterns you’ll cover include repetition, rhetorical questions, anecdotes and metaphors.

Topic 7: Handling objections and resistance

It’s normal to encounter resistance or objections when you’re influencing at work. In this section, you’ll learn how to respond constructively when this happens. See how to use discovery questions to uncover the needs or concerns beneath objections. Hear how to use principle-based negotiation techniques to build consensus and move beyond ‘no’.

How you can put your learning to use?

The practical, focus emphasises the application of evidence-based methods to real-life situations. Influencing skills can be used in business to build stronger networks, persuade people to listen to your ideas, negotiate, create buy-in to change and keep meetings on track. They can be used in your personal life to get friends and family members on-side, sort out disagreements, handle difficult people and build stronger relationships. The educator will answer your questions about using influencing techniques in your specific contexts.

Who teaches this course?

Eleanor Shakiba is a leading people skills trainer, based in Sydney. She has taught over 48,000 people – like you – to use breakthrough thinking and communication tools. She has written over ninety training courses and produced 12 audio programs to help you excel at work.

Eleanor is qualified in Social Anthropology, Adult Education, Applied Psychology, Neuro Linguistic Programming and Mediation. She writes and teaches in the areas of applied psychology, communication and conflict resolution. Her passion is helping professionals learn skills for success in the real world.

Intended audience

Suitable for professionals who need a basic understanding of how to frame an influential message.

Delivery style

This interactive course covers the why, what and how of influencing skills. You’ll learn through a variety of methods including:

  • small group discussions
  • role plays or simulations
  • written exercises in which you will apply key concepts
  • question and answer sessions with the trainer.

Delivery options:

  • presenter-taught workshop on University premises
  • online workshop via the platform Zoom.

You will get the most from this if you are:

  • willing to contribute to group discussions
  • confident communicating verbally in English
  • comfortable participating in role play style activities.

Recommended reading

Able, S & Stasser, G 2008, ‘Coordination success and interpersonal perceptions: matching versus mismatching’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 95, pp. 576–92.

Allen, M & Preiss, RW 1997, ‘Comparing the persuasiveness of narrative and statistical evidence using meta-analysis’, Communication Research Reports, vol. 14, pp. 125–131.

Bernieri, FJ 1988, ‘Coordinated movement and rapport in teacher-student interactions’, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, vol. 12, pp. 120–38.

Burger, JM, Messian, N, Patel, S, del Prado, A, & Anderson, C 2004, ‘What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 30, pp. 35–43.

Burnkrant, RE & Howard, DJ 1984, ‘Effects of the use of introductory rhetorical questions versus statements on information processing’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 47, pp. 1218–1230.

Bushman, BA 1988, ‘The Effects of Apparel on Compliance’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 14, pp. 459–67.

Carnegie, D 2009, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Simon & Schuster, NY.

Cialdini, RB 2016, Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, Simon & Schuster, NY.

Cialdini, R 2001, Influence: Science and Practice, Fourth Edition, Allyn and Bacon, London.

Clarkson, JJ,Tormala, ZL, & DD Rucker 2011, ‘Cognitive and affective matching effects in persuasion: an amplification perspective’. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, pp. 1415–27.

Conner, M, Rhodes, RE, Morris, B, McEachan, R & Lawton, R 2011, ‘Changing exercise through targeting affective or cognitive attitudes’, Psychology and Health, vol. 26, pp. 133–149.

Eagly, AH & Chaiken, S 1993, The Psychology of Attitudes, Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, Orlando.

Goldstein, NJ, Martin, SJ & Cialdini, RB 2008, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive, Free Press, NY.

Gorassini, DR 2016, Composing Persuasive Messages: Science and Ethics [Kindle iOS version].

Hovland, CI & Janis, IL 1959, Personality and Persuasibility, Yale University Press, Oxford.

Iyengar, S 2011, The Art of Choosing, Twelve, NY.

Kruglanski, A & Stroebe, W 2012, Handbook of the History of Social Psychology, Psychology Press, New York, pp. 285–320.

Lakoff, G & Johnson, M 1980, Metaphors We Live By, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Maio, GR & Haddock, G 2010, The Psychology of Attitudes, Sage, London.

Malhotra, D 2004, ‘Risky Business: Trust in Negotiations’, Negotiation, vol. 7, no. 2.

Pennebaker, JW 2011, The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us, Bloomsbury Press, NY.

Perloff, RM 2010, The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in The 21st Century (4th edn), Routledge, NY.

Pligt, JVD & Vliek, M 2016, The Psychology of Influence: Theory, Research and Practice [Kindle iOS version].

Regan, DT 1971, ‘Effects of a favor and liking on compliance’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 7, pp. 627–39.

Schein, E 2013, Humble Enquiry, Berrett-Koehhler Publishers, San Francisco.

Shakiba, E 2016, Difficult People Made Easy, New Holland Publishing.

Tillett, G 2006, Resolving Conflict, Oxford University Press.

Woodsid Van Swol, LM 2003,‘The effects of nonverbal mirroring on perceived persuasiveness, agreement with an imitator and reciprocity in a group discussion’, Communication Research, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 461-480.

Woodside, AG & Davenport, JW 1974, ‘Effects of salesman similarity and expertise on consumer purchasing behavior’, Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 11, pp. 198–202.

Zimbardo, PG & Leippe, MR 1991, The Psychology of Attitude, Change and Social Influence, Temple University Press, Philadelphia.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • One of the best courses I’ve attended! It provided a range of practical frameworks that can be applied in everyday situations and that I’m already applying to my work. The course was very well delivered, with the practical exercises giving good examples of how the frameworks could be applied.

  • Wonderful facilitator and full of knowledge. The information I learned will hold me in good stead for my career. Many thanks.

  • The facilitator was great. The presentation was well structured and there were answers for every question.

  • Tutor was great! Fantastic amount of work/group exercises and listening. Extremely engaging content delivery and great at managing the audience.

  • Presenter was amazing. Good class size. Excellent content.

  • Great course! The presenter really knows the stuff and is a great facilitator and trainer. Practical exercises reinforced the theory in the course notes. I will say it’s a lot to learn and I will have to keep referring to the notes for a while – a heck of a lot to take in and digest. Changing a lifetime of habits won’t come overnight but it all makes sense. Venue was great, instructions to get there nice and clear. The lunch completely exceeded expectations... blown away.

  • Very informative, interesting and useful course. Presenter was very engaging and facilitating.

  • A fantastic teacher who made the content easy to understand, and the practical exercises helped to apply it. Thank you!

  • A fantastic tutor! Very knowledgeable and able to demonstrate the theory and better ways to express your thoughts more effectively.

  • Fantastic course and presenter who provided many practical tools and tips for me to implement straight away at work and at home.

  • I put into practice the skills I learnt at this course today – and it worked!

  • It was great that the course was on a Saturday as it would have been difficult to get time off work to attend otherwise.

  • This was a really enjoyable course – well paced and with a good mix of theory and exercises.

  • The course was well run. There were plenty of practical exercises.

  • This course is well worth your time. It provides a great theoretical basis that is well explained and supported by practical methods which are broken down into components that are appropriately practiced during the class and that you can implement immediately. The Tutor has clearly invested time and effort into making this an interesting and appropriate adult learning opportunity which significantly benefits those who attend.

  • Found the course to be of great value to me and I will be able to apply the principles readily in my work and home life.

  • I am interested in attending more as I was pleased with my value for money.

  • The tutor was fantastic. I thought they did a great job. Lots of discussion and followed up with relevant videos and the tutor displayed a lot of experience.

The Psychology of Influence Course

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The Psychology of Influence Course

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The Psychology of Influence Course

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Psychology”}</p><p>{block name:“Block - COVID 19 updates”}</p><p>Influence is the ability to guide someone’s thinking, decisions or actions. Although some people seem

The Psychology of Influence Course

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Psychology”}</p><p>{block name:“Block - COVID 19 updates”}</p><p>Influence is the ability to guide someone’s thinking, decisions or actions. Although some people seem


What others say.

  • Fantastic course and presenter who provided many practical tools and tips for me to implement straight away at work and at home.
  • The course was fantastic. There were lots of skills that I feel I can apply to my current job (and personal life). The course facilitator was an excellent coach, who presented clearly and with lots of energy. I loved the practical group work and found the course content to be very engaging.
  • The tutor was fantastic. I thought they did a great job. Lots of discussion and followed up with relevant videos and the tutor displayed a lot of experience.
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