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A Smuggler using the principles of persuasion

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, there are 3 types of persuaders living amongst us today. The type of persuaders depends on whether they have acquired the skills of persuasion or not – if they have the persuasion skills whether they use them ethically. One of the principles of persuasion is the principle of Authority. I have learned how powerful this principle at work in real life is when I was in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for the first time. There is this well-known beef noodle restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City and this restaurant is no ordinary beef noodle restaurant as the former US President, Bill Clinton slurped down the noodles in this special restaurant.

I had heard about the visit by President Bill Clinton to this restaurant as I was told there was photo of him with the restaurant staff hung proudly on the wall in the restaurant. So, one evening, I decided to walk from the hotel to this restaurant, using a map. As I walked out, there was this man in his fifties, who asked me to take a ride in his taxi. Initially I politely refused, but he was persistent and followed me with him inside the taxi, asking me where I wanted to go. Again, I turned down the offer. Then he came out of the taxi and began to show me a notebook, page after page of testimonials from tourists around the world about how great and helpful he was. Finally, I relented and told him I wanted to go to the famous beef noodle restaurant where President Clinton patronized while he was in Ho Chi Minh City. He even waited for me to finish my beef noodle and took me back to the hotel. Then, I got a shock of my life when he wanted to charge a fee of USD40.00. I told him that was exorbitant, but he got angry. Being a foreigner, I did not want to create problems. So after much bargaining, he settled for USD30.00. I knew I had been fleeced. That man in Ho Chi Minh City is an example of a smuggler (a type of persuader) who is competent in the use of persuasion skills, but is unethical in its practice.

The lesson learned is this:

In situations of uncertainty, we are susceptible to be persuaded (cheated in this case) by this type of persuader – smugglers. In this case, the powerful use of testimonials from tourists by this smuggler worked extremely well. Like the words spoken by the U.S. President, John F. Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs incident, “How could I have been so tupid?”So beware of this man in his fifties when you next visit Ho Chi Minh City. You can be the next victim of unethical practice of the principles of persuasion. The principles of persuasion are powerful weapons to use. But they must be applied ethically.

Learn and apply ethically the power of persuasion in an upcoming Principles of Persuasion workshop in Penang, Malaysia on May 30 and May 31, 2016.

For details and how to register, please email: or

The Facilitator:

Dr. CK Khoo is the only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT) in Malaysia and South East Asia and among only the 19 CMCTs in the world, to be endorsed by Dr. Robert Cialdini to conduct the training. He is personally trained and certified by Dr. Robert Cialdini to conduct the Principles of Persuasion Workshop.

What Dr. Cialdini says of CK Khoo: “Watching CK Khoo perform as a presenter and trainer is a genuine pleasure. He knows his material well, and he knows how to present it beautifully. I am very glad to have him as my partner.”

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