The Psychology of Influence – Part 1

We’re all born with influence. Generally our charm, or our cries, get us the attention we need! Over time we learn what gives us influence with others, what gets the attention of others. And for some people even negative attention is better than no attention at all. Hence the old cliché ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’!

So, what gives us attention in our work, in our business? How do you get attention for who you are and the work you’ve chosen to do in your one wild and precious life? Are you clear about the influence you have? The impact you have? Are you showing up and shining in 2010? And if not, why not? What stops you? And what would happen if you could show up and shine more?

I’m a Master and Trainer in NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and without question NLP is about the art and science of ethical influence, or it is the way that I teach it. NLP gives you the leading edge in irresistable influence. For example, are you aware that there are some words that really motivate and some that really demotivate? Even tiny words have a massive effect on your neurology and behaviour. That’s the socio-linguistic element of NLP. There are little words we call Modal Operators, though that label doesn’t really matter, it’s what those words can do and how they affect people that truly matters. I’ll share those with you next time. And yes, I am a tease! I hope you are smiling at this point!

Influence. Let’s get you thinking differently. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. So if you want more influence, more business success, what do you need to do differently? One thing differently you can do is to make use of what Professor Robert Cialdini calls ‘The Reciprocity Principal’ (‘Influence: Science & Practice’, Robert Cialdini, PhD). I don’t know about you but as I journey through my life I endeavour to be in reciprocal relationships with others, and I value them. In all cultures this principle of reciprocity operates. And it operates simply because it helps human survival. Richard Leakey suggests that this is the very essence of what makes us human.

Most of us dislike those who take take take. We prefer to be around those who give, who contribute, who make a difference. And so it is in business. It makes good business sense to use The Reciprocity Principal to not only help your business survive, but help it to thrive too. So what are the implications of that for your business? We undoubtedly live in a free economy, but at the same time we want to build successful businesses, not ones that go bust because everything’s for free! So let’s think that through.

How can you weave a web of contribution, of giving? You may choose to do that on a systematic basis, or on a random basis. Can you commit random or systematic acts of wanton kindness – it helps your spirit to grow and improves your health, and no doubt your business health too! Get your work out there, give it away some of the time, so that people get a feel for who you are and what you can do for them. Blog, Twitter, develop e-books and e-articles that you give away in exchange for an email address to add to your mailing list. Offer taster sessions, a free introductory session. Develop your own authentic voice within all your work, be wholly and fully yourself without apology, and let you shine through all you do.

Giving things away creates a desire to give back in the receiver. There’s an unwritten obligation that comes with acceptance. I’ve learned more about that over the years. I’ve always been a giver. Yet someone said to me recently that giving things away just doesn’t work. Well guess what, I didn’t know that, didn’t run that belief, and so I kept doing it anyway! it has always paid rich dividends in my well-being as well as in my business. I give from my heart, things don’t have to be dragged from me kicking and screaming. I have no desire for people to feel obligated to me, I am enriched by the process, though funnily enough so is my business.

When I first began my business I looked at which organizations I could add value to and enrich, and which ones I could passionately support and would contribute to for free. I offered a free Confidence course to the Great Yarmouth Young Women’s Project, and a free Listening Skills course for Home-Start. 5 years later I was asked to track the results from that work. I had received £42,000 worth of business from one organization and those they’d raved about me to, and from the other and those they’d highly recommended me to, I had received £35,000 worth of business. I didn’t do the work with that intention, but that is the result I had. Both are still clients today, 15 years on.

Google give information away from free – and just look at how massively successful they are. Starbucks give away free internet access – I’ll tell you there’s not many use it without buying at least a coffee! On the other hand Coffee Bean have a ‘buy from us and we’ll give you free internet access’ and I understand their policy hasn’t been as successful as Starbucks. You draw your own conclusions!

The Friday Project publishes titles under creative common licenses and give away free books. They say when they do, sales immediately rise. Many iPhone applications are free … but you have to buy the iPhone to get them, and many have! Rupert Murdoch isn’t too happy about all the free news out there, but he wouldn’t be. Radiohead allow free downloads of their music and consequently reach more people and have more fans. The album they released and the tour that followed were their most successful ever.

And I use free business banking services – and I bet you do you! See it does work!

Now, enjoy creating a mind-map of what you can do that will add value to your clients, and potential clients, and in the process build your business and your influence. And remember what Michelangelo said ‘The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it’.

Go get that influence BIG TIME!

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