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The power of influence.

The power of influence.

Believe it or not there are numerous methods that we can employ to increase the chance that we get the response we want from people.  It is not magic and it is not jedi mind tricks, but if used properly they can help you get the answer you want when dealing with people.  The fantastic thing about these influencing factors is that they can be applied in all areas of your life, work, home and play!

The video above provides an insight into some of the reasons that we say yes.

Reciprocity.

Human beings have a hardwired nature to repay acts of kindness.  This stems from the fact that in times gone by we all relied upon each other for survival.  Early humans cooperated a lot more than we do these days and it was a case of I do “this” for you and you do “that” for me, together we will have “this” and “that”.  The process of one good turn deserving another ensured that society flourished and eventually turned into bartering and nowadays, commerce.  Instead of returning the favour we now use currency to reciprocate.  When dealing with people, you can make sure that you use this hardwired nature to your advantage by offering a free service or sample.  A free sample or a seemingly random act of kindness can trigger this natural reaction to return the favour.

Scarcity.

People will, believe it or not, pay more or buy more of products or services that are limited.  I expect that we have all seen a disaster movie where people are panic buying water and other life essential products.  Whilst the chances of an end of the world scenario are slim and pure fantasy, the psychology is very very real.  If you remember a few years back there was a potential for fuel tanker drivers to go on strike.  Then, there were queues of cars all over the areas likely to be most effected.   People want what is in scarce supply, this is tapping into our basic survival instincts.

When using this method, put a limited offer on the table, ensure it is exclusive and people will say yes!

Make sure that if you want to deploy this strategy that you limit what is available otherwise people will see straight through your efforts.

Authority.

This influence is an interesting one as it has a lot of science and research behind it.  Basically the more authority that a person holds (or appears to hold) the more likely y0u are to comply with a request.  One of the most important pieces of work regarding the influence of authority would be the experiments of Stanley Milgram.  His famous experiment tested just how far people will go when responding to instruction from authority.  In summary he showed that people would inflict lethal levels of electric shock on others because an authority figure was saying it was ok to do so.  The reality was that the individuals being exposed to the shocks were in fact acting and no shocks were being administered.  What it proved was that authority was an extremely powerful influence.  To read more on Stanley Milgram click here.

What we can take from this experiment is that the more authority that you appear to hold the more likely that someone is going to do as you ask or indeed recommend.  I am sure that if you were going to buy something you would purchase it from a reputable, upstanding, experienced company/individual as they hold more authority.

Consistency

Humans have a desire for consistency, we naturally seek stability and security.   However it is not only consistency we seek for ourselves, but we seek to appear consistent to others.  This stems from the fact that society views people that are consistent as stable, honest and trustworthy.  We all want to be perceived as such and so we adopt a consistent approach to our actions.  In fact, this desire to be seen in a good light can be a large influence on our decisions and actions.

As the video clip shows, when we make a small commitment to a cause then we are actually setting out our stall to support that cause.  When further requests for assistance follow it is in our own good to comply (even if we end up with a billboard in our gardens).  When we commit to something we don’t want to be seen as wrong and our brains even try and find ways to justify and support our choices.  Eventually even unwise decisions can grow their own legs and become a wise decision in our own mind.

Getting someone to agree to a small action will automatically mean that you have an in road for that next request (or sale).

Liking

This influence is quite obvious when you consider it.  When we like someone, we will be more likely to say yes to them.  Conversely, those we dislike we are more likely to say no to.  This principle is crystallised in the saying “people buy from people”.   For example, if you have a choice of buying something from someone you like you are going to choose them over another.

The interesting thing here is that “liking” comes in two parts, firstly there is the personality.  Secondly, attractiveness has a bearing on our likelihood to comply with the request of an individual.  Studies have even shown that politicians rated as more attractive get more votes!  This article from the Telegraph explains more.  Part of the reasoning could be due to the fact that our hardwiring is to seek out healthy people as they provide us with the best chance for survival.

To increase your chances of being successful when seeking compliance or sale, make sure you are likable and good looking.   One of these two are easier to achieve than the other.  This makes me think I really need to lose weight as that can even influence people when making decisions.

Consensus

Do not underestimate the power of social influences!  I remember being at school and I remember that football was very big with the group of kids that I hung about with.  All of them supported Liverpool, and as I really wanted to be accepted by this group I became a big fan of Liverpool too.  This was not only about me wanting to fit in but was also because of the fact that “how could so many other people be wrong?” and so I supported the same team.

This influence is also seen a lot on the internet in the form of reviews.  When booking a holiday, how many of us have read the reviews on the internet?  I know I have.  Similarly, when you look at websites for companies you will see pages of testimonies and comments from previous customers.  This is all geared toward convincing us that everybody else uses or buys this and as such we should!

 Conclusion

Be warned; just as you can deploy these tactics to assist you, others are using them for their advantage too.  The next time you are offered a free sample or are asked for a small committment then think twice, are you being influenced?

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