Be Influential

Who does not want to influence others?   Who does not worry about how others perceive you? What influence do we bear in others lives? How important are we to them? While we are thinking about where we stand in others lives we cannot ignore the fact that we are also constantly influenced by various factors that surround us.The food we choose to eat, the places we visit, the mobiles we carry, the dress we wear or choose not to wear, the way we conduct ourselves are all reflections of the numerous incidents or individuals that have influenced us. No body , not even the so-called “rebels “who vouch for their independent views,  iconoclastic, earth-shattering ideas can claim to be original in the truest sense. The truth of the fact being all that has to be said has already been said. That said, there are certain ways in which we can consciously work on influencing others.

Robert Cialdini , the professor of marketing and psychology at Arizona University studied the patterns of influence and is often regarded as the father of influence .His books Influence: Science and Practice, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Yes!:50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,The Small BIG: Small changes that spark big influence  provide valuable inputs on negotiation, compliance and persuasion.

The  writer shares interesting anecdotes in his book. One such is the story of a woman who sells stones. The lady who owns a small jewel stone outlet was going for a day off. So she scribbled a note to her assistant asking him to halve the price of the blue Topaz stones in the store as  these stones were not in demand at all.The day after when the lady came back to her store,she was surprised to notice that all the Topaz stones were sold in record time.The assistant had doubled the price of the topaz stones and buyers had lapped them up! This incident prompted the lady to get in touch with Cialdini to understand how this miracle happened.

The higher price attributed higher value to the stones which caused an increase in demand and eventually led to the sell out.

There are 6 principles of influence that Cialdini talks about. 1.Reciprocity: What you give is what you get. Thought schools across the world stress the need to give in order to earn.  It is the principle that draws you to that vegetable vendor who throws in a bunch of  free green chilly and coriander for you. It is the principle that makes you want to return the favour to those who stood for you.It is the same principle which works when you return a smile for a smile and a slap for a slap, well, let’s stay away from violence.

2.Commitment and Consensus: We are wired to keep up our commitments. In general, we as individuals are keen to protect our image and our public standing and prefer to stick to our commitments  rather than dishonoring them. By the same scale, we respect and value those who are committed to a cause in business, in relationships, in sports or in any other field.Think of the numerous face book posts on loyalty,commitment, standing up for one another that gets the maximum likes and shares and we realize its a valuable behaviour for most among us.

Our opinion is almost always influenced by others thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Take for instance, how much we depend on reviews before deciding to buy a product or watch a film. We are in general wired to follow what others follow. It is normal for us to ask a few friends and family before deciding on a product or an event. In fact, the whole purpose of advertisements is to make the customers believe that they are missing out on something that the majority have and enjoy.

3.Scarcity-What is scarce is what is valuable.

Buy land,they are not making it any more,said Mark Twain long before land prices began to sky rocket. But its true that we forever value what we have not. Whether its life, love, home or other possessions the grass for most of us is greener on the other side.  Think of how much we yearn for those who are not around while we are almost fed up with those who surround us. When the shopping malls declare year end sales at 50% discount for a limited period, you know why the public rushes to the venue. In his poem To a Skylark, Shelley,the famous poet said, We look before and after and pine for what is not.

4. Authority -We look up to who we think know it all

In medical emergencies, none of us would think of disputing the doctor’s opinion. We agree that the doctor knows more about the situation than we as lay men do. In the advertisements have you noticed the actors donning the doctor’s coat to create an impression of authority. We tend to look up to those who we think are in control. The wearing of a coat or a blazer adds levels of authority to your persona. Try thinking of why you feel obliged to a request by a person wearing an over coat or a uniform in comparison to another in plain clothes.

In continuation to this, you can build on to your authority in your office space or in your personal life with credible work, thorough knowledge and an impeccable carriage. You could try writing and presenting ideas to a larger group to establish your command in a subject. Many entrepreneurs, business men, writers  are getting their interviews recorded and their experiences written about so that they can add on to their aura of  authority in a given field.Written matter  like the recommendations on your Linkedin carry a lot of weight.

5. Liking – We love those whom we like

Yes,ask your little one about his favorite teacher, its likely that you too will fall for her. Good looks, presentation, grooming, pleasant manners are all important aspects of making yourself more likable. There is of course, no need to stoop beneath your dignity to please any one but working consciously on how you are perceived can help you grow in your career and your personal life. Think of the amount of thought, time and effort that goes into the image building exercises of public figures whether they are politicians, actors or social workers. Personal branding is big these days. Conscious efforts to improve the general perception about you and make yourself more likable can pay you rich dividends.

6. Social Proof – We go where the world goes

Before deciding to watch a movie, we usually would look up the review ratings of the same. The social proof of  published ratings further establish the value of a product in our eyes. Even though we may be worried about the authenticity of the review(most of the reviews are paid ones), we are likely to go with it. All marketing campaigns are designed to invoke the ire of jealousy in you like the classic Onida ad- Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride!

The principles of influence are an interesting concept. An awareness of these 6 principles of Influence can definitely help us better our lives.







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