Influencing and persuasion are two words which are often used interchangeably. Regardless of your preference, influencing does include elements of persuasion and in his book entitled Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Professor Robert Cialdini shares the six laws or rules that make up how we can influence others and how we ourselves are influenced. Influencing happens all the time. Word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising around and yet you don’t control it yourself. It’s done by other people who like your products or services and ‘influences’ someone else to use them.
Trying to tap into the influencing psyche of others can be easier than you think. It’s not about forcing your ideas on others. It’s about knowing what makes other people want to follow your advice or copy what you do naturally and coming to those conclusions themselves.
The six laws of influence
Making something appear rarer automatically pushes the perceived value up. If there’s a time limit involved, this force someone into a decision. If you say that the price goes up next week, people are more likely to buy it within the week before the price goes up. In an auction situation, people often pay more than the item is worth because there is only one available. If there’s a limited supply, not everyone will get one and this forces action.
People feel obligated to return favours. If you have done something for someone, they will feel the need to return the favour. Likewise, if someone has turned you down for something, they will feel more inclined to say yes to something else, especially if the next thing is seen as less of a deal. For example, if you try to sell something for $1000 and the answer is no, you could offer a lesser value item and be more likely to get a yes.
Our societies have helped us all have respect in some form to authority. So when we show or are seen as having authority on a subject or topic, people are more likely to side with us or agree on what we suggest. The word ‘Author’ is the same root as ‘Authority’. If we have ‘Authored’ something such as a book or an article, we naturally become an ‘Authority’ on that subject.
We are much more likely to help other people who are similar to ourselves. We naturally migrate to people who dress similar, have similar backgrounds or even have similar names. In sales training, sales people are taught to mirror other people’s behaviours, order the same food at restaurants etc so that they draw comparisons and create similarity as people are more comfortable around similar people.
If everyone else is doing something, we are more likely to believe it’s the correct behaviour. If everyone is selling stocks and shares, it starts a run of selling. If we are uncertain, we tend to look at what the ‘herd’ is doing and follow them. It’s almost like a feeling of – “They must know something I don’t”.
Commitment and Consistency
People that are committed and consistent are seen as being strong, reliable and get things done. The opposite shows people that you don’t commit long enough to complete tasks. If you can get people to take a small step, they are more likely to take bigger steps for you. People will be more committed in a direction once they are engaged somewhat. If you buy a car, you look for the positives in that type of car. Demonstrate commitment and consistency to help people see you as someone to invest in and help people take small steps and do small favours for you. Make sure you report back on favours people do on your behalf to let them know the outcome and how you benefited.
To summarise how to influence others more effectively, build trust with them and be interested in them and their needs. Dale Carnegie said, “You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”