The art of ethically influencing people
Sorry, no tips, tricks or techniques here but let’s talk about what it takes to become a master persuader. Saying there are tips, tricks and techniques to influence people degrades people, devalues the influence process and shortchanges real learning.
When people refer to “tips” to influence people that devalues the influence process. You get tips at a racetrack and while that may up your odds of picking the winner in the next race it doesn’t necessarily help you become better at picking the winners time and time again. Don’t you want to become consistently good at influencing others?
Another problem with tips is they often come with little or no cost because they provide little value. Many times tips are nothing more than a restatement of what we already know to be true. Cut your carbs, don’t smoke and exercise if you want to be healthy. Wow, thanks for telling me something I didn’t already know.
Talking about “tricks” to influence people makes it sound like a magician using his knowledge of people’s senses to fool them with slight of hand. There’s no such thing as magic so what’s really occurring is deception.
When it comes to influence you don’t need to deceive people because there are scientifically proven ways to use the understanding of human psychology to make your message more effective and ultimately move people to action ethically.
When I hear people talk about using tricks it makes it sound like you’re taking advantage of others and nobody wants to feel like they were taken advantage of. How would you feel if you discovered someone tricked you into something like a sale?
What’s wrong with learning techniques? Techniques are fine until you find yourself in a situation where your technique doesn’t apply. However, if you understood the why behind the technique – why the technique usually works – you’re in a better position to figure out something else that might help in the moment.
Here’s an example of a technique. You want to lose weight quickly so you fast for two days and only drink water. That might be fine if you’re a wrestler looking to make weight but it won’t cut it if you’re looking for long-term, healthy weight loss.
If tips, tricks and techniques won’t cut it then what does it take to become a master of influence? Like anything in life it takes time, effort and practice. If you wanted to get significantly better at golf you might start by attending a golf school for a few days or a week. But how much would you improve if you didn’t continue to practice?
Attending a workshop to immerse yourself in the language of influence for a few days is a great start because you’ll learn the why behind human behavior. But that’s only a start. You need to reinforce your learning by reading books like Influence Science and Practice, Pre-suasion, Predictably Irrational, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Becoming a student of influence is an excellent start to becoming a master of influence but your most important step is the next one – be strategic as you look for opportunities to put your new knowledge to use. Only when you try something then assess your results, looking for ways to improve, will you grow. That means assessing what when well and what could be improved.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy in life and that’s true when it comes to being a master at persuasion. Don’t succumb to tips, tricks and techniques! Learn how to ethically influence people because it will lead to more professional success and personal happiness.
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE and Director of Learning for The State Auto University at State Auto Insurance.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the ABA-UK.