So how do you learn this skill? You can do a lot worse than observe billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Cialdini says.

1. Build unity

When it comes to persuading people, trust often matters more than the content of your ideas, and you get people to trust you by demonstrating that you’re all on the same team. … Aiming to convince readers that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, could continue its improbably long run of incredible success, he opened by saying that the message contained in the letter, was ‘what I would say to my family today if they asked me about Berkshire’s future.’ That’s a masterstroke, according to Cialdini. …

2. Admit mistakes

Admitting your errors upfront might sound like a terrible way to persuade people. After all, who would have confidence in someone who bumbled badly in the past? But Buffett proves that showing you’re human straight off can actually be a brilliant move, Cialdini says.

On The James Altucher Show (hat tip to Business Insider), Cialdini praised Buffett’s 2012 shareholder letter for this reason. Buffett kicked it off with an admission that ‘for the ninth time in 48 years, Berkshire’s percentage increase in book value was less than the S&P’s percentage gain.’

‘It’s disarming every time he says, ‘You know, we made this mistake.’ I believe the next thing he says to me–and that’s where he puts the strength of the last year,’ Cialdini explains. …

3. Make fun of yourself

… Every year, at their annual shareholder meeting, Buffett and his right-hand man Charlie Munger play a video that makes them the butt of jokes. These videos ‘humanize them and make them seem like they’re not arrogant, know-it-all types, but very much in keeping with the image of who they are as honest, straight-talking people who will reveal their foibles if those foibles exist,’ Cialdini told Yahoo Finance.”