Social Labeling: The Most Awesome Covert Persuasion Technique

social labeling

First, I’m going to start with a question…

Aren’t you tired of hearing the word “no?”

I know you are. We all hate to get rejected, don’t we?

I totally get it. If you’re going to succeed in your career or business, you must be able to get others to do what you want. You have to master the art of persuasion.

Fortunately, there is a way to make this easier. There’s a technique you can use to make people more comfortable with doing what you want.

It’s the social labeling technique, and it’s one of the most powerful persuasion techniques at your disposal. Like the mirroring technique, it’s a way to influence someone without them knowing it. After you read this article, you will have learned what the social labeling technique is, why it’s effective, and how to use it.


What Is Social Labeling?

So what is social labeling anyway? Social labeling is a persuasion technique that involves pointing out a personality trait or skill that the other person has that is favorable to your position.

It’s a technique that gets them to see themselves in a way that makes them more agreeable to what you’re saying. The key to doing this right is it make sure that the traits you’re focused on are traits that will help you lead your target to do what you want.


Why Does it Work?

The social labeling technique is one of the most effective persuasion techniques at your disposal. The reason it’s so powerful is because it relates to people’s need for consistency.

If you read Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” you will learn about the six principles of persuasion. Commitment and Consistency is one of these principles.

Consistency refers to our need to behave in a way that is consistent with our stated values and positions. If someone perceives themselves a certain way, it will influence the actions they take; especially if they have voiced this perception out loud.

We all love consistency, don’t we? It’s the reason we can’t stand politicians who constantly change their positions.

If you can get someone to agree with or to say out loud what it is you want them to do, you will have a much better chance of influencing them.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…

There was a study done by the American Cancer Society. They called prospects in order to predict how they would respond if they were asked to volunteer to collect donations. Many of these prospects said “yes.” Some time later, they were called again and were asked to volunteer. This tactic brought a 700% increase in volunteers.

When you point out something about your target that they would agree with and get them to think of themselves in this way, they will be more likely to act in a way that is in line with who they already believe they are. That’s why you want to talk about traits that you already know they have.


The Best Advice on Using the Social Labeling Technique

The great thing about the social labeling technique isn’t just that it’s so effective. It’s also the fact that it’s so easy to use. If you practice it consistently, you will find yourself doing it without even thinking about it.

Here’s an example of how you can use this technique.

Let’s say you need to ask one of your employees to take on an extra task and you know it might cause her to feel frustrated. Instead of just laying it on her, you might try using the social labeling technique first.

Here are a few things you could say:

  • “Everyone knows how good you are at juggling many tasks at once.”
  • “I’ve always appreciated how willing you are to take on new things.”
  • “Every time I ask you to do something difficult, you always come through.”

I know what you’re thinking.

Sounds pretty manipulative right? Yes, I suppose it does. The truth is, it CAN be manipulative if you’re using it the wrong way. But you’re not that type of person, right?

There are two things you need to keep in mind when using this technique. First, you have to be sincere. You want to comment on traits that your target actually has.

If you know she isn’t able to juggle multiple tasks at once, then you shouldn’t tell her that she can. Instead, pick a different trait.

Secondly, you don’t want to overdo it. If you lay it on too thick, your target will figure out what you’re doing and it’ll make you look like a jerk. They will shut down immediately because they feel like they’re being manipulated.

If you remember these two things, then you won’t have to worry about using this technique the wrong way.


The social labeling technique is one of the most effective and easy-to-use persuasion techniques in your repertoire. Next time you need to make a request of someone, try using social labeling first. As you master this technique, you will see how much easier it can be to influence others.

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