The Power of Others

Super Admin
Super Admin

How good an influencer are you? Most people think they are good, but the amount of frustration I see in the workplace tells a different story. Many people’s aggravations at work stem from not having their opinions valued or their ideas implemented.

It comes down from lacking an effective persuasion strategy.

After completing a presentation on leadership development, an audience member excitedly asked me to meet to discuss working with his leadership team. A few weeks later, we had a conceptual agreement to work together except for the fee, which was a bit steep for his liking.

In situations like these, I looked to decrease some value so we could arrive at a comfortable figure, and we decided to shorten the length of the contract and reduce the number of participants.

As part of my initial work with the team, I had them complete an assessment that doesn’t measure personality but effective behaviors. The team members loved it and wanted to see how we could use the results to help themselves and their teams.

He inquired about the coaching in his weekly meetings with his leadership group. They were excited about our work and wanted to share their survey results. They even encouraged him to take the survey and consider expanding the program to other senior staff members.

Unsolicited, I received a note from the boss asking if he could complete the survey and wanted to expand our project to other staff members. I didn’t do anything to change his mind and this shift in his attitude points to one of the most powerful tools of influence:

Social proof.

Over the years, I’ve studied several influencing thought leaders and come to the work of psychologist Robert Cialdini at Arizona State. I met Cialdini at a small Thought Leadership conference with eight other consultants. His book, “Influence” set the standard for understanding this important skill. Cialdini identified six strategies for building influence:

  1. Be nice. (Likeability)
  2. Do favors for others. (Reciprocity)
  3. Let others do your talking. (Social proof)
  4. Get folks to say yes. (Have people make a verbal agreement in support)
  5. Be the boss. (Use authority, if you have it)
  6. Limit options. (Create a sense of scarcity)

Letting others do your talking, or what Cialdini calls “Social Proof,” makes changing minds easier. Having respected and trusted team members endorse an idea makes it more appealing to those on the fence. We see this daily on social media, where influencers affect their audience’s purchasing decisions, how people seek approval for their ideas by watching news broadcasts that support their perspective, and how business leaders have others share experiences about them so that they can be seen as genuine and authentic.

Tom Sawyer famously managed to get his friends to paint a fence for him by making the task enjoyable and desirable. This clever use of social proof and influence turned a chore into an opportunity. In a business context, the same principle applies. When respected and trusted team members endorse an idea, it becomes more appealing to others, including leadership.

Remember, the key to resilience is to create less stress, so getting others to do your work just makes your life a little easier.  

© Richard Citrin 2024

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