The 21 Best Books on Influence and Persuasion (to Read in 2024)

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Leaders set strategic goals and guide their teams/organizations toward accomplishing those goals.

However, no matter how smart and knowledgable those leaders are, they are powerless without the cooperation of other people. That is why the ability to persuade and motivate is such a crucial leadership skill.

As you set out to improve your ability to influence and persuade, you will need the help of experts.

Discover in this article, 21 of the best books on influence and persuasion that will teach you how to win people’s respect and change the minds of those around you.

This list of modern bestsellers and must-read classics will show you how people make decisions, how the mind works, how you can influence people’s thoughts, and how to become a successful persuader.

Table of Contents

“Drive […]” is one of those books that can make you say, time and time again, “Aha! So that’s why even smart people sometimes look like complete morons.”

This book is an eye-opener about:

  • What motivates us to do the things we do,
  • How come we lose motivation so fast,
  • What are the most significant incentives to help others change their behavior (or help yourself)
  • Understanding others and yourself better,
  • How to go from compliance to real engagement,
  • Becoming a master of self-determination and self-direction.

Even though this book is written for business managers, it’s a good read for anyone who wants to know how to influence others (or themselves) to feel more motivated in everyday life matters.

You can have the most significant message ever written, but if you don’t know how to get it in front of those people who need your message, no one will ever hear it, see it, read it.

“Influence: The psychology of persuasion” is for you if you want to make your message stand out, be heard and listened.

Learn what are and how to use the six essential tools of influence and persuasion:

  • Scarcity
  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Authority
  • Social proof
  • Liking

Stop being shy about your desire of becoming more successful; read this classic book and gain knowledge that can help you make a real difference in your life and your environment…among other things, your co-workers will love you for the changes you’ll initiate.

Do you want to be a graceful influencer? Lead your life towards personal and professional success? Understand better the mechanisms behind great leaders? Then, this book is for you.

Discover in this book, the new science of leading change so that you can build around yourself the environment in which you want to live.

No matter your sphere of activity (parent, spouse, teacher, life coach, team leader,etc.), this book, it’s a great view inside the intricates of leading change through influence.

You see? Most people get angry when they feel frustrated. Knowing how to influence others minimizes the chances of feeling frustrated because you always have the tools to change things pleasantly:

  • You can’t be a leader if you don’t know what makes people start moving;
  • There are few individuals born leaders, the rest of us must learn how to influence others and become worthy leaders;
  • Understanding how to influence those around you (always) leads to positive change;
  • Motivation is not a state of mind in a continuum. Therefore, those you want to influence need your help (time and time again) to regain motivation;

From this book, you can learn how to do all of that and some more.

Most probably you know the expression “cut to the chase”. It is a commonly used expression even though most people don’t know its origins.

At the beginning of cinematography, the silent movie was the king; pretty fast followed by the western movies. People loved them; never seemed to have enough of the characters shooting each other riding horses.

The studios producing those movies discovered that people were fascinated by the fighting and chasing scenes. So, at the editing part, they used to say a lot “cut to the chase” to guarantee a big success.

Another expression (it’s more a word than an expression) commonly used (and most people don’t know how it became a word in our vocabulary) is “posh”.

There are many stories about this world (posh), but the one story that stands out (and seems to be accepted by the majority) is that posh stands for “port out starboard home” which, at the beginning of 20th century, referred to upper-class accommodation in the UK and India.

Later, the ships caring people from England to India designated a special place in the cargo hold for the luggage of the wealthy. The designated place was called “posh” to make a clear distinction between the languages of ordinary people and “those more important”, the posh ones.

Chances are, you have never been interested about where from “cut to the chase” or “posh” are coming. But, now, that you heard these two stories, “cut to the chase” and “posh” will never sound the same to you.

And that is the power of the story! It makes your audience (of one or many) more interested in what you have to say, curious about your message, inquisitive about your ideas.

Discover in this book, how you can craft any message you want to become a compelling story for those who need to hear your message.

What seems to you more critical, the message or the messenger? How do you choose what wine to buy? The price or the taste?

Discover in this book, the answer to questions like those above, and learn how you can tailor your message to become contagious.

The most influential people talk louder in most ears even when they say nothing.

You can too become a more influential person by adopting some of the tools provided in this book:

  • What makes ideas stand out
  • How to use other people’s emotions to win them on your side
  • Things that can trigger a positive response to your message
  • How to make your idea look better compared to the competition that offers the same (or similar) things as you do
  • How it happens that many positive things have adverse results
  • …And many other tools of influence and persuasion

Belief has nothing to do with facts. We believe many things for which we have no evidence.

Because our behaviors and actions are, in part, shaped by our beliefs, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their influence at home, at work, or in the social environment.

If you want to understand others and yourself better, this book is for you:

  • How people get to believe what they do
  • Why is a belief (actually) an opinion
  • Why you don’t see the things in front of you but what you believe they are
  • How your memory is a construction based on emotions and beliefs
  • How to live more in the present moment
  • Define more accurately who you are

This book by Dale Carnegie it’s timeless. Since its first publication in 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has changed the lives of millions.

After you read this book, you cannot miss noticing how your:

  • Life is better,
  • Relationships improve,
  • Negative emotions towards yourself or others diminish considerably,
  • Attitude is most times set on positive,
  • Frustration goes down when dealing with difficult people,
  • Understanding and tolerance go up…

Most reviews of this book are glorious because this book is glorious. Never before it, and never since, has been published a more helpful book in the field of self-improvement, life improvement.

This book is like a manual for good manners and practices when you want to get the best outcome for your relationships, feel better about yourself, feel better about your loved ones, friends, and family, co-workers, employees or employers.

No review can make justice to this book; you must read it and practice it to understand what’s all about.

There are many stories out there that seem so genuine, but most probably or not. We believe them because (even though lies), they help us in a way or another – they are convenient lies.

One such story (I don’t know if it’s true or not) is the story of NASA spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that works in space (lower gravity than Earth). After years of research, NASA discovered that the Russians use in space crayons…

Who likes to believe this story to be true, does so because it’s an example of how simple things can solve complicated problems, how the obvious things are most times the obvious solution. The truth becomes irrelevant.

This book will open your eyes to many urban legends that most people believe no matter if they have any evidence.

It’s a good read not necessarily to learn how to influence others but to learn how you might be influenced without realizing.

The book is entertaining, giving you many examples of things we believe and are not true.

We can say that this book is like a sweet pill that can cure you from being too gullible.

Most of us have brilliant ideas, but most of those ideas get lost because we are shy about selling them.

You see? Is not enough to be a skilled professional; most of those who need you don’t know how good you are until you tell them. You are a truly skilled professional when you know to sell, not only your skill but also yourself.

Knowingly or not most of us choose things and people having as the first criterion “who’s offering?”

Take as a simple example, buying a TV. It matters less the offer; it matters more who is presenting it. If you don’t like the face of the store, most probably you don’t buy. Is it not?

You are a salesperson no matter your profession or circumstances. If you’re a parent, daily must sell to your children why they should do things the way you teach them.

If you’re the adult child of elderly parents, often you must sell them why they shouldn’t ask you every time you call “why don’t you call more often?” If you’re a spouse, you’re regularly selling the idea that monogamy is the greatest thing ever discovered.

Learn from this book how to influence others by selling them compelling ideas.

Yes, the book was intended to help mainly salesman. Nevertheless, it’s a good read for anyone who wants to know what it takes to put always your best foot forward.

These days there is an undeniable truth – we inspire ourselves to be better as people from the business world because it has the many resources for research and development (the business world is very interested in human behavior.)

This is an eye opener book. Discover how others use fallacies to convince you that their ideas are the only way you can move forward.

Listen, we are all guilty of using fallacies… it’s convenient!

Take as a simple example the fallacy used by politicians to win the election: Meritocracy; But, people don’t get elected because they deserve to govern over you; get elected those who shout louder, polarise masses, know to use the insanity “us against them”.

If you’re faced with a person that knows how to use fallacies, and you don’t, most probably you lose the argument. Therefore, arm yourself with the knowledge from this book and become a winner.

A note here: don’t give this book as a gift to someone unethical because they will use it to sharpen their manipulation tactics. This book deserves to be placed in “clean hands”.

“The Prince” is one of the most influential books of all time.

Written on an era when the war was a common practice for the Italian principalities to expand and get richer, this book is a collection of essays and letters on politics and war.

At that time, Machiavelli was always in danger of losing his life. He found the best way to make himself useful and indispensable, by writing this book.

That can sound disconcerting for those interested in reading it. However, Machiavelli (really, really) wanted to stay alive, so he did a great job. A job from which you can learn many essential things about influence, critical thinking, and how to be a real leader.

This book is based on more than 60 years of research into the human behavior and psychology of persuasion.

Discover in this book, 50 simple and practical strategies that can help you become more persuasive in your day to day life, and at work.

Each chapter of this book begins with a scientific case study and the relevant conclusions of it (from the persuasion point of view).

This book is for you if you want to dive deeper than ever before into the science of persuasion and become an influential person.

We tend to complicate things, make the end of the world out of nothing, panic about things that never happened and probably never will, overthink about what others might think of us.

Discover in this book how to make your life easier:

  • Spend less time overthinking about unimportant things
  • Redirect your thoughts and attitude towards positive and productive things
  • Change the mind and thoughts of those around you
    Influence and motivate others

Densely packed with useful information, entertaining and sometimes funny, this book is for you if you want to know how to win others on your side, persuading them to adopt your ideas as their own.

Knowing how to negotiate is a vital social skill to master.

You might think you’re not in the business of negotiating, but you’re negotiating something every day.

Discover in this book how to:

  • Identify possible problems or objections the other party might have before agreeing with you
  • Methods to use to give more power to your request so that people feel compelled to say “yes”
  • Things you must pay attention to when you’re involved in a negotiation

Negotiation is a big part of everyday life in many cultures. In Egypt, for example, merchants often get annoyed with tourists because they tend to pay the asking price without bargaining; that’s taking the fun out of their job.

The more and the harder you make someone work for a good offer from you, the more satisfied they are with the end result. It’s human nature. We get pleasure from thinking we’ve outsmarted someone… Therefore, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

Never before, the human has been faced to take so many decisions every day. But, just wait for it! In our modern society, in the future, the numbers of choices (you have to make every day) will grow and grow and grow.

We like to think we are rational beings… we are. And when we are, problems start to surface because using your logic to decide what you want takes a lot of time. So, naturally, many of that multitude of decisions, you have to make every day, will be less inspired.

Discover in this book, what are the things that influence you the most when you choose one thing or another; become less demanding of yourself always to select the best.

Learn from this book:

  • How to be less influenced by the shininess of things, or their high price, to determine their value;
  • The mechanisms of procrastination and self-control;
  • How come we lie sometimes and what can you do about it;
  • Why it happens to end up paying too much for things seemingly, free;
  • What can do for you being less attached to the things you own.

Yes, this book doesn’t aim to help you influence others. Yet, it helps you a lot to understand how you’re influencing yourself; and once you know that, you have the power to influence yourself better, and also, influence (in a positive way) those around you. (You can’t teach anyone something before you know it. Is it not?)

In Cialdini’s 1984 book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” he brought science to the art of persuasion. And now, “Pre-Suasion” offers innovative insights into the art of winning people over and learning different persuasion techniques.

Cialdini reveals that optimal persuasion is attained only through optimal pre-suasion; in order to change other people’s minds, a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.”

As a New York Times bestseller, it’s no wonder why a lot of successful people recommend this book. It’s also recognized as one of the Best Business Books of 2016 by Financial Times.

Have you ever wondered why some ideas instantly grab our attention than others do? Why they last longer and get passed down from one generation to the next?

In other words, how does one master the art of making their ideas unforgettable?

Made to Stick explores persuasive and effective communication. In this bestselling book, you will learn how to make your ideas stick and thrive.

This is the beauty of influence:

  • Altruism with benefits
  • Courage with vulnerability
  • Optimism with honor

If you think about it, most people are as successful as their relationships are. Bad relationships, no success. Healthy relationships, big success.

Discover in this book, how to use altruism, courage, and optimism to influence those around you so that, you both, can win.

Most probably, this book will feel to you like a breath of fresh air. After all those years we’ve been brainwashed to have “me, me, me, self, self, self, mine, mine, mine” constantly on your mind, this book gives you the permission to think of “us, us, us”.

You might think, you don’t need permission for that. However, modern society forces us to be more selfish than ever because you’re always told that the only person you can rely on, is yourself.

Read this book and never feel lonely, never lose your connection with others, always feel surrounded by love, always feel useful.

Do you know what the easiest way to influence someone to do things for you is? It’s you doing something for them first.

Rhetoric books (take your skill of influence and persuasion to its higher level possible)

Mastering the art of rhetoric is one of the essential branches of influence and persuasion.

People, in general, are receptive to stories and musical language constructions. (“No pain, no gain” – it doesn’t matter if it’s logical; sounds good; therefore, must be true.)

Take as examples, two of the most powerful speeches ever made:

Both speeches are full of rhetoric techniques which made them timeless, unforgettable and influence many generations.

If you’re seriously interested in the art of influence and persuasion, mastering rhetoric will get you there fast and easy.

Even though rhetoric sounds like something mystical, it’s quite easy to learn and apply it.

Will you give it a try? Think hard, think smart, think influence!

There are many ways to say the same thing. However, when you know what the right way (for your listener) is, you win most arguments.

Discover in this article, 21 best books on Influence and Persuasion that can help you improve your power to influence and change the minds of those around you.

First, I want to congratulate you for being interested in this subject. You are one (of the few) who understand how critical social skills are influencing and persuading others. Most people learn all the other social skills, neglecting completely the art of influencing and persuading.

Have you heard about Fukushima and the disaster following the (2011) tsunami? Many people died, and many others had to leave their homes because of high radiation.

The Japanese now call the area around Fukushima “hard-to-return zone”. They don’t call it “dead zone”, or “poisonous zone”, or “the impossible to live zone”.

Saying the “hard-to-return zone” is influencing people to think positive about the future, giving them the hope that, one day, they could return home (if not themselves, their children).

Influence and persuasion manifest wherever you look:

  • Starting with mothers who try to convince children to eat broccoli,
  • Followed by spouses attempting to help their partners to change unwanted behaviors,
  • Teachers shaping the minds of their students to choose the best path in life,
  • Leaders motivating followers to become their best selves or get involved in noble causes,
  • People that, by their own example, help those around them overcome obstacles, solve easier their problems, accept challenges and rise above them.

That is influence and persuasion – moving people from point A to point B in an ethical way (whichever another way, if it’s not ethical, it’s called manipulation!)

There are many things we can say about Influence and Persuasion. However, you’ve already used or felt their positive results. Have you not?

Check out the following list of 21 best books on Influence and Persuasion and become an influencer; learn how to protect yourself from those who have only one thing in mind – to win at your expense; improve your social skills so that you can build and maintain long-lasting and meaningful relationships.

10 more great books on influence and persuasion:

  1. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki
  2. Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis
  3. Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want by Dave Lakhani
  4. Win Bigly by Scott Adams
  5. Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Frank Luntz
  6. Words that Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence by Shelle Rose Charvet
  7. Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
  8. Maximum Influence: The 12 Universal Laws of Power Persuasion by Kurt Mortensen
  9. Win Your Case by Gerry Spence
  10. Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

5 best books on manipulation:

  1. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  2. 30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics: How Manipulators Take Control … by Adelyn Birch
  3. Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life by Harriet B. Braiker
  4. Propaganda by Edward Bernays
  5. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

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