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Influencing is an art and a science

What makes Barack Obama more influential than Gordon Brown?

What made Princess Diana more influential than Camilla Parker Bowles?

What makes David Beckham more influential than Wayne Rooney?

Is it skill, experience, knowledge?

No, it is something less tangible and more difficult to quantify.  It is their ability to engage with others.  To make other people feel important and to inspire them.

Some might call it charisma.  Which is a very difficult thing to define and to emulate.  There are people who claim to be able to train you to develop your charisma.  We don’t!  We recognise that there are some people who have a natural ability to influence others and they are able to do it, almost without conscious thought.

In this short article, we would like to share with you 6 ways in which you can become more influential whether you have natural charisma or not!

Influencing others is an art and a science.  To influence others, you first of all need to understand what makes people tick.  What makes them behave in the certain ways in certain situations.  You can then apply that “science” or psychology to your interactions with them.  Then all you need to do is develop your interpersonal skills, which is the “art” piece!

Here are the 6 ways (to find out more read Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”).


  1. We are naturally compelled to repay a favour or return a kind act that someone has done for us.  We don’t like to feel indebted to others, so we will seek to find a way to redress the balance.  Which means, if we do something for someone, they will be more inclined to do something for us in return.  It could be something simple like sharing information, helping out with a piece of work, paying them a compliment etc.
  2. The less something is available, the more we desire it.  It is linked to our basic survival instinct.  So, we can influence the behaviour of others by reducing the availability of something.  You can encourage the someone to “act now” by setting a deadline for decision to be made, setting a limit to the amount of people who can take advantage of an offer or creating a “one time only “ situation.
  3. We all conform to authority figures.  When we see someone in a uniform, we tend to obey.  Now, if you don’t personally have a position of authority you can seek ways to enhance your argument with appropriate backing from others who do.  Use statistics, case studies, give examples which give credibility to what you are saying or, better still, get someone in authority to endorse what you are saying.
  4. We tend to like people who are like us, so a key skill to develop is an ability to build rapport with others.  Find ways to speak a similar language, behave in a similar way and even dress in a similar way to your audience to encourage rapport building and therefore benefit from the principle that “like likes like”.
  5. Much of our behaviour is influenced by others.  We look to others to help us decide how to behave, so once you can influence a few people to do what you are asking them to do, you are more likely to get others to do the same.  Seek to find people who are already bought into your message to help you influence others through their behaviour or language.
  6. If you can get your audience to agree with part of your message or say yes to even a small request, you are considerably more likely to influence them about your whole message or request.  The reason is that we like to behave in a way that is consistent with what we have said or what we have done previously.  So, getting a “yes” from someone will increase the chance of them following through and therefore being influenced by you.

This is not a magic wand which means everyone will be influenced by you whenever you want them to be!  Remember, influencing is an art and a science so you need to use the approach which is most appropriate at the time and with that specific audience.  So, you need to start by understanding your audience and adapting your approach to them.

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