“Leadership is a word and a concept that has been more argued than almost any other I know. I am not one of the desk-pounding types that likes to stick out his jaw and look like he is bossing the show. I would far rather get behind and, recognizing the frailties and the requirements of human nature, would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.” – Dwight David Eisenhower
“We control fifty percent of a relationship. We influence one hundred percent of it.” – Barbara Colorose
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come in to the mind of others.” – Blaise Pascal
I’ve been excited about writing this article ever since discovering the six principles of influence set out in Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The whole subject of influence is captivating to me because it is powerful and exciting to learn how you can get other people to do what you want. It may sound “evil” at first when you hear about getting other people to do what you want, but it depends on how you use the skills of influence. Any type of persuasion can be immoral or unethical if used incorrectly or for unhealthy motives.
The funny issue with influence and persuasion is when people say it is “wrong”. These people still attempt to manipulate others in their everyday lives. We all have a need to influence or persuade people. Whether it be asking for a cup of water or getting a sale, persuasion and influence occurs many times throughout your day whether you notice it or not. It is an inherent want within each of us to get what we desire, but it is the techniques we use and how we use them that determines if we are successful in getting what we want. The six principles I am sharing with you are effective techniques for influencing people to successfully get what you want.
In Create Your Own Future the author, Brian Tracy, provides the seven elements of human nature. They are the following in no particular order:
- Selfish – You desire things for yourself.
- Lazy – You want easier instead of difficult.
- Greedy – You want more instead of less.
- Impatient – You want things now instead of later.
- Ignorance – You ignore information because you can’t know everything.
- Ambitious – You desire something better after taking action.
- Vain – You have pride in yourself and your achievements.
I mention these elements of human nature because selfishness, laziness, and greed appear to be “evil” at first glance like influence is when hearing you can get other people to do what you want. However, if you think more deeply about each element, the seven elements each have their own degree of usefulness in our lives.
Firstly, take laziness as an example. We are all lazy by nature as we would rather to do things in an easier fashion than in a difficult manner. This inherent laziness drives us to seek better solutions, innovations, paths of less resistance, and so forth. We would all rather be able to push a magical button to stop a person arguing with us than have to endure emotionally intense conflict.
I’ll use ignorance as another example of the seven elements of human nature having their usefulness in our lives. By acknowledging that you will not know every little tidbit of information you force yourself to make an educated decision without knowing all the facts. You put yourself into a state of decisiveness. However, if you have too much ignorance, then you begin to make errors, poor decisions, and people will lose trust in you.
The same principles hold true with influence and persuasion. It has its good uses and bad uses. If you excessively use influence to get what you want because you are selfish, then it can begin to hurt yourself and your relationships. If you excessively use influence because you are greedy, then you will lose friends and persuasive power as you’ll soon see in the first principle of influence. If you excessively use influence because you are lazy, then you will have poor relationships and fail to hungrily seek your own goals.
All principles of influence work at a subconscious level. As you will learn in the principle of authority, we don’t hear of the title “doctor” and think to comply with the doctor’s medical advice because of the person’s title. We are influenced subconsciously which makes the certainty of such influential principles powerful. We think the decision to comply with a person’s influential request comes from our own reasoning yet it is the influential principles penetrating into our subconscious mind which are the true causation of our decision. This is the difference between influence and persuasion. Influence is a way of affecting someone’s behavior, attitudes, or beliefs, while persuasion tries to get someone to carry out a specific action.
Once you go out and use these six principles of influence, if you ask somebody what were the influential principles that affected their decision, they will not be aware of such influences and say they came to the decision themselves. As long as someone perceives that they made a decision themselves, they will be far more likely to follow through and commit to the decision.
Behavior is strong when a decision is made on the person’s own terms. This is the true power of influence. As a leader, parent, friend, or influencer of many people’s lives, if you can get a person to comply with your request on their own terms, the person will have a phenomenal dedication and commitment that otherwise would not have been achievable.
These six principles I’m about to share with you will help you overcome the need to manipulate people through suspicious techniques like poor praise. The principles are successful most often in influencing people because they appeal to our human psychology. These principles “take advantage” of the short-cuts each of us are born with which we use to make decisions in our everyday lives. As you continue reading this article, you will discover why we become “victims” of each principle and from this you will increase your influential power.
I’d like to point out that the six principles of influence I’m about to share with you are from Cialdini’s book on influence so if this whole topic interests you, then you’ll love his book which is titled Influence (a must-read).
Links in this Course: The 6 Principles of Influencing People
- Introduction to Influencing People
- 1. Commitment and Consistency
- 2. Reciprocation
- 3. Scarcity
- 4. Authority
- 5. Liking
- 6. Social Proof
You can download this entire course in a neat report format by right clicking here and selecting “save target as”. You can keep a copy safely on your computer. The report is in .pdf format so you will need this free software to view it.
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