The Art of Influence and Persuasion in Business

The Art of Influence and Persuasion

Attention Business owners and salespeople! In case you don’t know, honing your powers of influence is critical to your success and livelihood.

While that may seem like an obvious statement, let me explain why I think influence, and your power to persuade others is essential in business.

What is Influence?

I’ve read moving accounts of great leaders, who on the battlefield before a pivotal battle gave an emotional, rousing speech of such magnitude that 5,000, 10,000 even 20,000 men or more became united in one common goal. Speeches that have become immortal. These historical speeches gave the warriors a larger purpose which was worth putting their lives on the line.

I’ve often wondered if I had it in me to be a general like that. To be able to give a speech like that.

When you look at great orators such as Winston Churchill, who was born with a speech impediment and practiced daily to overcome it so that he was ready when fate intervened and he, through his radio addresses, was able to hold together a country with his voice and his words — you see the power of persuasion at work.

Imagine, you are huddling in your home with only candlelight and a battery powered radio. Outside it’s pitch black and the German Luftwaffe is dropping hundreds of bombs on your town. Explosions rock the ground and you fear for your life. Yet on the radio your leader, Winston Churchill says:

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny.”

That statement requires confidence, strength of will, integrity, and influence.

Influence gives a person the ability to help another person or group of people.

 How are we Influenced in business and in Life?

On the surface, influencing someone doesn’t appear to be a topic of study. It seems too simple. While it may be simple in theory, it’s complex in practice.

The basics of Influence boil down to just a handful of influence factors:

  • Commonalities
  • Frames of Agreement and Logic
  • Knowledge of the other person’s wants, needs, desires, and opinions
  • Attractiveness
  • Confidence/Charisma
  • Preparation

Whether you are trying to convince your co-worker to go to a restaurant you like for lunch, persuading your boss to give you a raise, making an important pitch to a client, or asking someone out for a date, your knowledge of, and use of the above 6 influence factors will help you achieve your goals.

Commonalities

People like people like them. When I learned Hypnosis, NLP, and Therapeutic techniques to get my degree in Social Psychology, I learned that the first thing I had to do was gain rapport with my client. In fact, the first session with any therapist is typically designed to build rapport.

Why? Why can’t the therapist just start doing therapy?

Because humans have to feel good around, and confident about the abilities of the person giving them therapy in order to make progress. That’s why self-help books don’t change people. People change people.

The effect of the people around us help us see an objective outer reality, instead of the subjective inner experience we live in most of the time. As such, we look to others to validate our experience – and we find what we are looking for in people like us.

Frames of Agreement and Logic

I love to watch the Daily Show. Not only do I sometimes laugh, I enjoy listening to the leaps of logic that John Stewart makes. Here is a recent example:

[Paraphrased] “The Republican’s believe that Insurance should be in the private sector. Their evidence is the Healthcare.gov website crashing and Government not being able to effectively run it, even though it’s in it’s infancy and they have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at it. But Apple’s website crashed when people went to it to see the new iphone. Wait, isn’t apple in the private sector? The Government is as effective as Apple.”

As long as information is missing, this can seem like a plausible argument. But let me give you some facts and then see if you still feel the same:

  • Development costs for twitter were originally about $2 million dollars.
  • Development costs for LinkedIn… a little less than $3 million.
  • Development costs for Heathcare.gov – over $300 million.
  • Traffic Apple received that crashed their website during their iPhone launch – over 10 million concurrent users.
  • Traffic Heathcare.gov received that crashed their website – twelve thousand concurrent users.

When you see the data, it tells a different story does it not?

The Daily Show logic is typically examples of translogic, as in the case above. It sounds right. It’s not right, but it sounds plausible, so we can act as if it’s true.

When you are persuading someone, you use logic, translogic, and belief without knowing it. Logical arguments, statements using translogic, and statements of belief may or may not be true. They don’t have to be. Only the outcome is important.

Knowledge of the other person’s wants, needs, desires, and opinions

My wife likes gourmet popcorn. She won’t eat just any old thing. It has to be healthy, or it has to be decadent. Popcorn is her gift to herself, her reward, she uses for watching what she eats and achieving her goals or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).

If I want to take her out to eat, she won’t go just anywhere. If she’s going to eat something fatty, it has to be delicious. If she’s going to eat dessert, it has to be handmade and expensive. She will not eat a candy bar.

Knowing that, if I want to persuade her to help me do something, she isn’t going to respond to a promise to take her to dinner. I’ve tried. I’ve used the, “you work so hard, why don’t you let me take you out so you don’t have to cook” routine. It doesn’t work. You know what does?

…My appreciation and Gourmet Popcorn.

Odds are, the person you are wanting to persuade has wants, needs, desires, and opinions as well. If you know them, which you learn by paying attention, you can use them to persuade them.

Attractiveness

In scientific studies, research psychologists have proven that attractive people are more persuasive. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Every boy and girl know that. I have done ridiculous things for girls I found attractive when I was in grade school. All they had to do was ask and I obliged.

Did I get anything out of it? Nope. Not once. I recall one time in particular when a girl in 5th grade saw my rabbit’s foot keychain and said, “I sure would like to have that.” To which I took my keys off it and handed it to her. She said, Awesome!” and walked away and started talking to another boy.

While that is a silly example of me being a stupid boy – it’s typical. People are persuaded much more easily by people they deem to be “attractive.”

Confidence/Charisma

When you act confident, people believe you to be confident. Confidence is sexy. Not only does confidence give you the attractive edge, it also helps you look comfortable, and like you belong.

Many times in my life I have had to say something I didn’t want to say, or do something I didn’t want to do, yet I did it because it had to be done and I achieved my outcome. I did it with confidence I generated before the confrontation, negotiation, or sales pitch occurred.

Preparation

There is a simple confidence technique I will show you in a moment, but I want you to know how good it feels to be prepared. I used to be terrified to speak in public. Sure, the hypnosis and NLP helped, but it is proper preparation that brings out the true confidence in me.

When you are prepared, you can fall back into and lose yourself in saying what you have prepared to say. Your subconscious mind will take over and the words will come out. All you have to do is let it happen.

Preparation builds confidence and confidence builds charisma, and charisma is attractive. When you add that to commonalities; frames of agreement and logic; and knowledge of the other person’s wants, needs, desires, and opinions — you have a powerful persuasive position. When you have these going for you, 8 times out of 10, you will make the sale, make a friend, or get the date.

Ingraining Influence

As you look at the 6 influence factors, you may wonder if persuasive people are just born that way. Look at them again.

  • Commonalities
  • Frames of Agreement and Logic
  • Knowledge of the other person’s wants, needs, desires, and opinions
  • Attractiveness
  • Confidence/Charisma
  • Preparation

What are the chances you have something in common with someone you are attempting to influence and persuade? How would you know what they want and need? What if you don’t feel attractive, lack confidence, and have no charisma? What then?

You already know the answer. I’ve implanted it in the section above.

You learn, practice, and prepare. Persuasive individuals are made by experience, not born that way.

Learn how to point out commonalities with others by attempting it in every conversation you have. There’s a 50% chance the other person is your gender. You can start there.

Learn to spot frames of logic and agreement, and learn their opinions. Float things by asking questions. Ask, “Has the recession hurt your business?” You would be amazed at where that conversation will go. Everything from competition to politics will be explored. Take mental notes.

Attractiveness is a concept. It’s neither real nor unreal. What science has shown is that a face with smooth features, a slim nose, and an upturned mouth (like a smile) is more trustworthy than an angular face that has a furrowed brow and a down-turned mouth (like a frown).

Right there, this tells you that regardless of your facial features, a smile is attractive. There are two areas to focus on when being your most attractive: Outer appearance and inner thoughts.

Outwardly, dress well and neat, smell good, but not overpoweringly so, and smile… a lot. In other words, rock what you got!

Inwardly, focus on feeling confident. You know what it feels like. There have been times in your life when you have felt confident. Remember those now and let them come rushing back to you.

Amazing isn’t it? You can simply remember the feeling of confidence and feel it flowing through you right now, where you are, as you are reading this.

Once you feel the confidence, let it fade. Bring up the fear or worry you are feeling. Now, take a moment to take a deep breath and let the air out. Releasing the grip the fear or worry has on you. Hand it off. Give it to someone who means a lot to you. It could be God, Buddha, your significant other, or your best friend. In your mind, give them the fear and let them box it up for you and take it away. Now, bring the feeling of confidence back. Focus on that confident feeling. Think about your preparation. Maybe it’s the weeks you spent memorizing, or the years you have invested talking about your product.

…then, with that confident feeling flowing through you, let that natural influence and power of persuasion exude from you.

Conclusion

These are just the basics of influence. But they are powerful. Essential.

You could spend the rest of your life perfecting these 6 factors of influence. But it doesn’t require that. If you want to be more persuasive and have influence over others, simply pay attention to, and practice, these 6 factors. If you do, you will be the most charismatic and persuasive person the people in your life will ever meet.

Do You Wish to Opine?

Have you had experiences in your life where you have had confidence, and charisma seemingly flow from you? Have you experienced the feeling of joy when you successfully persuade another? Do you think you could give a speech like William Wallace and have the same result? Let me know in the comments section.

Photo Credit: henkwijnholds via Compfight cc

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller is the owner of Mindwhirl.com, a sales and marketing coaching and training company in Atlanta, Georgia.

Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow.

Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs.

If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (404) 858-3105, or email me at mmiller@mindwhirl.com.

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