It’s not a definitive list but it’s a good start in learning persuasion.
I took the liberty to include a few key lessons and interesting short stories.
These books are chosen considering three strict rules:
I’ve included these books in case you need proven strategies to boost your confidence.
Besides, confidence is crucial in becoming a master in persuasion and achieve higher results in everything you do.
Think of yourself as a building.
Your professional and social skills are the walls, floors, stairs, roof, etc. Confidence is the structure.
If you aren’t able to control your emotions… if you don’t have confidence… then you will crumble by the earthquakes of life.
1. Confidence Gap by Dr. Ross Harris
It is a comprehensive, no-bullshit guide to building confidence.
Dr. Harris shows you the root cause of why people lack confidence and gives you the tools to achieve your goal.
Key lesson: The actions of confidence come first; the feelings of confidence come later.
2. Mastering Fear by Brandon Webb
Brandon is an ex-Navy SEAL, and he gives an effective 5-step strategy to master your fears.
The keyword is “master”.
The reason is that fear will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Our goal is not to pretend that it’s not there, but to use its power to our advantage.
The author clearly knows what he is talking about, and it’s worth following his advice.
Key lesson: Make fear your ally.
3. The Self-confidence Workbook by Barbara Markway, PhD
This book is written considering the findings in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).
It’s also a very easy-to-read book.
The feelings of shyness and anxiety inspired the author to follow a career in psychology so she could better understand herself.
For over 30 years she has helped people learn how to become more self-confident.
PS: These books aren’t written to make you feel great for a moment, then return to old patterns.
They give you strategies that are also used by psychologists to help people overcome anxiety.
To get the most out of these books, you need to put yourself in situations that constantly make you uncomfortable. That’s how you build confidence.
If you aren’t willing to do that, then don’t bother reading them.
Having a charismatic personality will increase your chances of getting what you want.
4. Just Listen by Mark Goulston
I was searching on Amazon for a good book on communication and then I saw this title, “Just Listen”. And I was like, “come on, another book on listening!”
But what changed my mind was the fact that Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist. Since psychiatrists are experts at connecting with people, I thought of giving it a shot.
Now it has turned into my favorite book.
I learned to:
Empathize and understand why someone behaves in a certain way.
Make people feel valuable
Be calm in stressful situations
Of course, there’s a lot to learn from this book but the three lessons above helped me the most.
5. The Charisma Myth – Olivia Fox Cabane
Some people think charisma is a quality you’re born with. Well, this is partially true.
There are many people who are naturally magnetic but that doesn’t mean we can’t become charismatic.
Charisma myth is a guide full of practical tips, action steps, and examples that will help you build a charismatic personality.
Remember to practice what you learned and don’t get discouraged if the interaction doesn’t go as you planned.
6. “It’s Not All About Me” by Robin Dreeke
It’s a short, concise, and practical book on building rapport.
Robin Dreeke is the former head of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit within the Counterintelligence Division.
He has used the techniques with skilled professionals within the FBI as well as with educators, salespeople, and individuals across the country.
Key lesson: Suspending our individual ego is difficult but it’s a very powerful persuasion technique.
These books will give you golden information in understanding people and using that information to influence them.
7. Forbidden keys to persuasion by Blair Warren
The book starts with two events:
First, there’s his friend who works as a life insurance agent struggling to sell new clients.
Second, the author is watching a horrible event in the news about a cult group called Heaven’s Gate. Thirty-nine individuals had committed mass suicide under the direction of their leader, Marshall Applewhite.
These events raise the question:
How does one convince other people to willingly act against their own self-interests while others struggle to convince people to engage in acts that would clearly be in their own best interests?
Blair continues explaining the human tendencies which are the Achilles heel of the human mind.
Key lesson: When aware of an impasse, people will do anything to gain a sense of hope.
8. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Thank you u/ResidentPurple for your suggestion.
Chriss Voss is a former FBI Hostage negotiator. His routine was to negotiate with deeply troubled individuals.
Now, would you be able to persuade people by just reading this book?
I think you would.
The principles are universal. You can apply them to any situation where you need to persuade someone.
His writing is simple to understand and I love the short stories. Sometimes, it feels like I’m watching an episode of Mindhunter.
Key Lesson: There’s nothing more frustrating or disruptive to any negotiation than to get the feeling you are talking to someone who isn’t listening.
You don’t have to agree with his values and beliefs. But try to understand the situation from their perspective.
9. The Art of Manipulation by R. B Sparkman
It was published in 1979 but the principles are still valid. The author gives powerful techniques and examples of how some people always get what they want.
Before writing this book, the author spends one year living with a group of street-wise hustlers and con men. (Now, that’s dedication)
Obviously, he was conned multiple times, but he managed to understand how manipulation works.
The only problem with this book is that it’s out of print.
And some sellers on Amazon thought $700 is a reasonable price.
Surprise! Surprise! No one bought it.
So, I would suggest trying your luck on PDFdrive[dot]com
Key lesson: Intermittent reinforcement
10. Covert persuasion by Kevin Hogan
Kevin is an international public speaker, consultant, and corporate trainer.
He is the author of 24 books on sales and persuasion.
This is my favorite book from him. It is packed with practical psychological tricks and gives many real-world examples and scientific studies.
It is mostly concentrated in sales but you can also apply the information in other areas of life.
Key lesson: Persuasive phrases.
11. Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort
If you sell over the phone, then you might find this book helpful.
Jordan explains many techniques on how to increase your confidence and closing rate.
It’s a minimized version of his online course.
Key lesson: Tonality
12. Impossible to ignore by Carmen Simon
Carmen Simon is a cognitive scientist and founder of Rexi Media, a presentation design and training company
Many books are written on how to improve your own memory but not how to influence other’s memory.
She offers many insights on how we can make a memorable impact whether you’re trying to persuade your employees, consumers, or an audience.
13. The Science of Human Hacking by Christopher Hadnagy
Christopher Hadnagy is the creator of SEvillage at Def Con, Author, and security consultant.
It’s my favorite book on Social Engineering.
He reveals the arsenal of tech hacks and psychological techniques every social engineer is using to manipulate a target.
Learning these techniques might help you prevent hackers from damaging you or your business.
Key lesson: Profiling people through communication styles.
14. The one-sentence persuasion course by Blair Warren
It’s a short but valuable book.
Blair managed to capture the essence of persuasion in a single sentence. He also gives examples of how you can apply it to persuade others.
15. Propaganda by Edward Bernays
It was first published in 1928 when the word propaganda didn’t have a negative meaning.
He gives many techniques and examples that can be used to persuade the masses for the good of all.
Scarily enough, his content it’s still relevant in today’s world.
You can read this book online.
16. The science of storytelling by Will Storr
We all enjoy a good story, whether it’s a novel, movie, song, or just one of our friends explaining an interesting event. But why are we so obsessed with storytelling?
Back in the stone age, tribes would gossip. They would tell tales about the rights and wrongs of people, punish the bad behavior, reward good, and thereby keeping everyone in check.
Stories about heroes and villains and the powerful emotions they would trigger were crucial to human survival. We’re wired to enjoy them.
So, if you’re trying to teach, influence, or inspire then you need to master the art of storytelling.
Storr used scientific studies to explain what is happening in the brain. And he gives plenty of techniques on creating a memorable story.
Key lesson: When we push ourselves towards a tough yet meaningful goal, we thrive. Our reward systems spike not when we achieve what we’re after but when we’re in pursuit of it.
It’s the pursuit that makes life and the pursuit that makes a plot.
17. Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hunn by Wess Roberts, Ph.D.
The Huns were a nomadic people who probably originated in Central Asia.
They traveled in small groups led by chieftains. In 370 A.D. they arrive in Europe and attacked Goths and Visigoths. They earned the reputation as the new barbarians in town.
Huns would also work as mercenaries for the Roman Empire.
Then Attila became their king.
His dream was simple… to conquer the world.
But it was a very tough challenge to turn these tribes without a common purpose into a nation.
He had to persuade the chieftains and strengthen his army.
Even though they were tough, they couldn’t fight with more-disciplined and well-trained forces.
Eventually, under the leadership of Attila, Huns became the most powerful military force in Europe.
The author sets Attila as the protagonist of this book, explaining the rules of leadership. And you can apply them no matter what organization you’re in.
I personally think it’s one of the best books on leadership.
You can also read his other book, “Victory Secrets of Attila”.
You can borrow both of them at archive.org
18. Emotional Vampires by Albert Bernstein
First, I like the title. It explains what this book is about in two words.
This book is about people that don’t suck your blood but every ounce of your energy.
These are regular people you meet on the street, a boss, a family member, or a partner.
In the beginning, they’re charming and behave nicely to you.
You invite them to your life. You expect more from them and you get very little. Often you realize the mistake only after they disappear leaving you with an empty wallet and probably a broken heart.
As the author explains:
Though they act like creatures of darkness, there’s nothing supernatural about Emotional Vampires. The melodramatic metaphor is nothing more than clinical psychology dressed up in a Halloween costume.
Emotional Vampires are people who have characteristics of what psychologists call personality disorders- Antisocial, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Obsessive-compulsive, and Paranoid.
Over the course of 40 years as a psychologist, he has seen that these people cause the most trouble.
I agree that it’s not a typical persuasion book but it might be helpful to know how to deal with toxic people.
I recommend reading these books if you own a business.
It will help you set your business apart from the crowd of competitors.
19. Decoded: The Science behind we buy by Phil Barden
It’s a must-read book for every marketer.
He shares the latest research on what motivates purchasing behavior and what happens in their brains as they make these decisions.
And he shows how you can implement this knowledge in day-to-day marketing.
Phil Barden was the VP Brand Development for T-Mobile and was responsible for £2.6BN in revenue.
After that, he was promoted to VP Brand Development, Europe, relaunching the brand across 10 countries with the ‘Life is for sharing” platform, including the iconic ‘dance’ flash mob TV ad in London’s Liverpool St station.
He is the owner of DECODE marketing ltd – founded by former scientists from the fields of decision science.
Key Lesson: The principles are applied considering the framework introduced by Kahneman.
20. Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom
Martin is a brand consultant for Fortune 100 companies from Coca-cola to Red Bull.
He describes hidden tricks companies are using to persuade people to buy – Some of them are interesting, some are weird and some will make you say “unbelievable”.
Interesting: When pregnant women hear a catchy tune every day and have a positive response to it, the fetus, and later the unborn will have a conditioned response to that sound pattern.
Furthermore, a major shopping mall in Asia began experimenting with the unconscious power of smells and sounds. They started spraying Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder in every area of the mall where clothing was sold. Then it started playing soothing music from the era when these women were born.
A year later they started receiving letters from mothers saying that as soon as they entered the mall, the crying babies calmed down. Over 60% of these women claimed they never experienced this nowhere else.
21. Confessions of the pricing man by Herman Simon
In 1985, along with two of his doctoral students, Herman founded the Simon-Kucher & Partners consulting firm.
Today they have 30 offices in all major countries and revenue over $250 million. They are leaders in price consulting.
If you are a business owner this is a must-read book.
He gives you the main principles on how to price for profit.
Interesting: Customers tend to perceive higher prices with a higher quality of the product.
A good example is Chivas Regal. In 1970 they were experiencing low sales.
So, to reposition the brand, they designed a new label and raised the price by 20%. The whiskey itself remained the same. And with the new price, the sales rose significantly.
22. The seven lost secrets of success by Joe Vitale
It tells the story of Bruce Barton, the co-founder of the BBDO advertising agency.
Joe Vitale explains the mentality of Bruce Barton and the strategies which made him a successful businessman.
Key lesson: “Andrew Carnegie came to a land of wooden towns … and left a nation of steel.”
This is one of my favorite slogans.
When you’re promoting your product, explain how it improves people’s lives. Look past obvious. Reveal the product nobody knows.
The demand for copywriters is huge.
Mastering this skill will help you make extra money as a freelancer.
Or, you can write the copy for your business.
23. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugarman
Joseph Sugarman is a legendary copywriter who’s the chairman of JS&A Group, BluBlocker Corporation, DelStar Publishing, and President of Stem Cell Products.
He is also known for:
Writing hilarious long-copy and out-of-the-box thinking for direct sales and marketing.
He offered readers $10 for every spelling error they found in his copy.
He sold a $240,000 airplane in a single mail-order ad.
In this book, Joe gives step-by-step instructions on how to write persuasive copy. And it can be a great help if you’re just starting out in copywriting.
Key lesson: The purpose of the first sentence is to get you to read the second. The purpose of the second sentence is to get you to read the third and so on…
Here’s an interesting case with one of his Ads.
I once received a letter from a reader of Scientific American magazine in response to one of our ads on thermostats.
The lady who sent the letter said that she had no interest in buying a thermostat, rarely reads an ad and when she does she just scans through them.
But, she went on, “I’m a busy scientist. When I started reading your Ad, I wasted 5 minutes of my valuable time reading the entire thing and I was so upset that I wanted to write you and complain.”
As a copywriter, I couldn’t have gotten a more complimentary complaint letter.
24. The Robert Collier Letter Book
Robert Collier is one of the best copywriters of all time. This book is written in 1937, but the principles still apply today.
There are also a dozen examples of different products- from Ham to Books. It’s not an easy, entertaining read but its worth the time.
After reading the first chapter I modified one of his examples.
I was promoting a YouTube video (sales seminar) on Facebook, and I wrote:
“He didn’t buy anything.”
How often is this little tragedy repeated in your business?
Your time is valuable, your overhead expenses run on – and it costs you real money when a prospect doesn’t make a purchase.
CTR was higher than without paragraph and I made one affiliate sale.
Of course, there were other factors in play – It was a good video, I wrote a short copy in the YT description and it was a great course I had bought.
25. CA$HVERTISING by Drew Whitman
This book is a collection of little-known principles and techniques of advertising psychology used by the best copywriters and designers.
He explains in the powerful motivators and how you can profit from them.
Key lesson: The goal of advertising is to get people to act.
When you write advertising, you want people to do more than just read. You want them to do more than simply say, “Wow, what a great ad!”
You want them to place an order now or ask for more information that can complete the purchase.
Disclaimer: If you buy from the Amazon links I get a small commission. It helps me write more.
I don’t promote books that I haven’t read and found helpful.