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The Psychology Of Influence

Posted by Andrea Keating on July 1, 2013

Influence – is the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force, on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others (www.dictionary.reference.com).


The art of influence is often described as the act of changing people’s minds by means of presenting the right arguments in an educated professional tone. Becoming effective in the art of influence isn’t just about being a skillful communicator amongst your peers, or being an industry authority; it’s also about understanding people’s motivations, and the psychology of how we interact with each other. Influence is not hinged upon manipulation; the intent should never exploit your established relationships for personal gain. Effective influence focuses on supporting and improving the relationships you have while accomplishing your intended goals.


Within an office setting the systematic hierarchy that exists requires all parties to be efficient communicators, and often times require the ability to persuade, or influence successfully. For instance let’s examine the politics behind successfully managing a successful corporate shoot. The first thing that must be done is establishing a concept and a budget and getting the client to sign off on it. The Producer must first prepare the budget in a timely fashion, sometimes enlisting the assistance of a Production Manager or coordinator to provide additional support with outsourcing production crews, and vendors for the budget. The ability to push coordinators, vendors, and crew along thru the process swiftly requires keen social management skills. Often times the Producer may be required to do a little ego massaging with the crew, and employ skillful persuasion tactics to attain the desired results. The Video Producer must then turn around and employ these same tactics when dealing with perspective clients.



The intent behind all corporate media content is, to promote or market a brand, product, or service. The overall goal is to influence your core audience to buy into whatever it is pitching to them. It’s a vicious cycle, and subconsciously we engage in the science of persuasion every day to get things done. Nothing would ever get done otherwise.



Learning how to gain the willing commitment of others, accomplish your intended results, and build productive long-lasting business relationships are directly linked to understanding people. Understanding social interaction is a major factor to consider when attempting to develop, or improve upon your effectiveness as an influencer. Directors have to be masterful in the art of communication, and are required to effectively manage all of the personalities on the set. So, the Director is usually the one on set that has to find a resolution when issues arise, and this is usually where the science of persuasion comes into play. The Director certainly doesn’t troubleshoot issues on his own, and must enlist the help of others on the set. How does he effectively do that? The simple answer is “getting everyone to do what you need them to do!” We can do this more effectively once we understand the way people think. If your desire is to be a top influencers in your industry, stripping away the all of the analytical research and focusing more on the basics of human psychology would be a great start. The interaction between others cannot always be defined by statistical-based findings, and analytical studies. Influencing a group is challenging, and sustaining your presence as an authority will take some basic understanding of the psychological principles behind the art of influence. Corporate Brand Managers, political leaders, and successful entrepreneurs all understand the basics for creating influence, and how to use the principles effectively within their perspective fields.



Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. authored a New York Times bestseller book entitled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” In this book he identifies 6 basic fundamental tendencies related to the art of persuasion that can effectively increase your influential presence amongst your peers. Understanding these 6 basic principles can help you gain significant traction in route to becoming an effective influencer.


The 6 Weapons of Influence:




    • Returning the favor. The idea of reciprocity, this can lead us to feel obliged to return the favor after receiving gifts, concessions, and general acts of kindness. It leaves the idea of being indebted to someone lingering, and most people will feel the need reciprocate the gesture.



Commitment and Consistency


    • I feel obligated too… When people make a commitment, orally or in writing, whether it’s an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because it directly ties to that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-integrity. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement.



Social Proof


    • You’re not on Facebook? People will do things that they see other people are doing. Simply following what seems to be the norm. We’re particularly susceptible to this principle when we’re feeling unsure about something, and see reputable sources condoning certain practices.





    • Warren Buffet thinks you should… People end to obey authority figures, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them totally. We feel a sense of duty or obligation to people in positions of authority.





    • Oprah says “No texting and driving!” We are more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms; people might be similar or familiar to us, they might give us compliments, or we may just simply trust them. Whatever the case may be we strongly value their opinion, and adhere to them in most cases.





    • “For a limited time only!” This principle says that things are more attractive when their availability is limited. The more rare and uncommon a service or tangible item is the more people want it.






Persuasion can be interpreted from one’s personal or positional perspective, utilizing resources available to change people’s positions, and attitudes related to the specific agenda. Persuasion is a catalyst for getting things accomplished, and is the precursor to achieving an outcome that can’t be realized singularly. Businesses rely on it to manage employee relationship, and sell products to potential consumers. Politicians use it to garner trust from the public, and entice target audience to buy into their agenda. Influence is the understanding of people, relationships, and how to effectively communicate your agenda while maintaining a positive association with your base.



These are things to think about when planning your next corporate shoot, rolling out a new service or product. The desire to become a highly influential communicator heavily relies upon your personal understanding of the laws and science behind human interaction.


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