Guest Blog from Russell Wardrop of Kissing With Confidence, who has shared the highlights of his talk to Exchange members at a Focus dinner. The event was hosted by Alan McCafferty
The Six Factors of Influence
I opened with the importance of fairness, emphasising that it’s always in the frame even if you are in a strong position. We are emotional beings and fairness always matters to us, so be aware that human beings are prepared to say no to something even if they will lose, simply to stop you winning, if they think you are asking for too much.
Reciprocity is, essentially, making the other side feel special. Who doesn’t like to feel special? Find a way to have those you are trying to influence believe that you are doing something just for them and they are more likely to be persuaded to your way of thinking. Better still, of course, genuinely do something special just for them. This can be as simple as a hand-written note, a surprise you know they will like, a heads-up on a business opportunity or an early look at some new research.
One way or another, we do like to think we matter to other people. Show others that you matter to them and they are likely to reciprocate.
We are persuaded by others, especially those we have a good opinion of. So when you are putting that sponsorship form around the office, go to a generous and well-liked colleague first- one you know will put at least a tenner in the box- and you will do better than if you start with the tight-wad.
Social proof is about finding other parties to convince others that you are good at what you do.
I added benchmarking and proper empirical research These can take a bit more time and effort than collecting a quote, but are great objective ways of using social proof to persuade.
Consistency and Commitment
When people make a commitment, they are more likely to be consistent with that commitment. At a simple level, this is about getting those you want to persuade to commit to what you want: to say yes.
This took us into five minutes on one of my favourite emotional intelligence skills: assertiveness. Assertive people say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. They are not afraid to ask for what they want. We had a brief discussion about knowing what you want before you go into the room, which is important, and ensuring you ask at the right moment.
Stanley Milligram did experiments in the 1950s that had people giving electric shocks to strangers at the behest of a “doctor” in a white coat. Eighty per cent of those in the sample administered a fatal dose.
Bottom line? We defer to authority, so enhancing and increasing your authority is an effective way to get others round to your way of thinking.
Some of the discussion here was around how dangerous factors of persuasion can be. Of course, any “technique” one might use can be ineffective if you use them in an amateurish way: for example if you only used your authority to push something through you will likely get push-back.
Scarcity is possibly, especially in hard-times, a very risky factor of influence. But there’s the thing, as we discussed: if you are less available then you are more valuable. Think about ways you can use your lack of availability to be more precious. Don’t call back tonight, right away, leave it until tomorrow morning…
Ahhhhhhhh… finally likeability. I’ve spoken about networking before at the Exchange and networking has likeability at its core. Having a smile on your face and not being a miserable sod is important: no-one likes a miserable sod.
I finished here on small talk, and the importance of working on your ability to do it. It’s more than an ice-breaker, it’s more than just polite, it’s more than convention. Having great, interesting small talk makes you more memorable. And having others remember you is essential if they are to be persuaded by you.
But there’s more: if you share good small talk and get rapport going likeability turns into trust; and trust is what you need if persuasion is your goal.
Of course many of us use much of the above every day of our lives when out there trying to earn a crust. But when you look at the above you might find that you emphasise one a bit too much at the expense of others that might be effective. And here’s the thing: too many of us spend too much time using too much logic and too many facts. Use a bit of creativity to make your self appropriately memorable when you are out there and you’ll get more of what you want.