What is influence?

One of the biggest achievements of NLP is the successful re-introduction of the art of influence. Influence is generally defined as “having an effect on a person or group of people.” When we communicate with others, we do so with the firm intention of influencing them (whether you know it or not).

When a speaker successfully influences his subject, his power of persuasion can extend beyond the current interactio

When a person agrees with your beliefs or values and proceeds to use them even if you are no longer there to enforce them, then that is the time that you have successfully influenced someone.

Influence is continuous persuasion, embedded in the subject’s subconscious mind.

Can influence be ethical?

I hear this frequently from my students: isn’t influence unethical? My answer to this common question is always the same: influence is a skill, much like cooking or sewing.

A person can choose to do things ethically or unethically, that is up to the person.

In order to become an ethical influencer, you need to take strike a balance between giving and taking away.

For example, let us say that you’re a lawyer that was negotiating on behalf of a bakery business. The bakery business’ staffs have gone on strike because of wage issues.

You are aware that the bakery is more than capable of providing a higher wage and at the same time, you see reason in the demands of the employees. What do you do?

The ethical thing to do would be to provide a balance of benefits to both parties, since both parties are entitled to a “win-win” resolution of the problem.

The unethical thing to do would be to convince the employees that the bakery business was on the brink of collapse and that a wage increase would completely topple it.

Do you see the difference? In both situations, influence can be used to create a target outcome. However, only the first scenario presented a “win-win” resolution of the problem and therefore it is the ethical way of applying the art of influence.

How can a person be more influential?

The art of influence, like other everyday skills, can be learned and mastered by anyone who has the passion for it.

Here are some influence techniques that you can use in different situations to turn the tides and bring advantage back into the table:

  1. Reciprocity

When you do something for someone, that person is subconsciously obliged to “return the favor” one day. If you want to influence a person to work alongside you or to look upon your requests kindly in the future, you can “plant a seed” of reciprocity by providing something of value to that person.

We’re not just talking about money or expensive gifts – we’re talking about deeds and words that can have a positive impact on the person at the present time.

  1. Commitment

People do not usually commit to new things because they’re preoccupied with their present set of commitments. Refusing to commit to something is a classic example of resource preservation, which is an instinctual drive.

If you want someone to commit to something that would require time, energy or financial resources, the best way to do it would be to create small situations where the person can make minor commitments.

For example, if you are planning to have a fundraiser for cancer awareness, you may want to ask people from the neighborhood for ideas for the fundraiser.

People will respond because the task is easy and they’ll feel helpful for doing so. Eventually, a chain of small commitments will lead to a big commitment to the main event itself. By that time, people will feel responsible for the event and they will commit to it with little or no resistance.

  1. Believability

The easiest way to convince someone that your idea is sound and reasonable is by providing social proof. TV commercials use this technique often and it has worked (and is still working) because it satisfies our natural need to follow suit.

When we see proof that other people are headed in a particular direction, we are irresistibly drawn to the same direction because the mass of people signifies safety.

Again, this is an instinctual drive that is hard to escape.

Inversely, if this technique is being used on you, you can stop the influence process by accepting the social proof and examining if the idea is something that would personally benefit you. Because benefits that apply to others may not be as useful for you.