Beyond Influence

By Kevin J Ryan

Our business life can be seen as a series of persuasion attempts. Our success at work is often defined by our ability to have others think or act in the way we want. There is an overabundance of advice on how to influence others on the bookshelves starting in 1936 with Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Behavioural scientists are conducting endless experiments to test people’s reactions to different persuasion attempts. Neuroscientists are reading brainwaves in response to certain stimuli. And this is all valuable information.

But, when you see the genuinely talented influencers in action, you’ll notice that they move beyond influencing others to inspiring them. Rather than externally applying external temptations to move someone, they tap into the person’s core motivations – so they influence themselves to change their thoughts or behaviours.

Here are nine ways that you can inspire others:

1. Justice/Fairness

We all have a sense of what is fair and what is not. When our sense of fairness is violated, the response can range from resentment to rage. It is to be expected when we see ourselves as victims of unfairness, but also when we see it happening to others.

2. Safety/Security

These are our most basic of needs: to have shelter, be well fed and be able to live with our loved ones in safety. The need to feel secure and comfortable is ingrained in every human. Global uncertainty is even making citizens of first world countries feel unsafe.

3. Threat of Loss

People are more likely to be moved to action by the fear of losing something they already have than by the prospect of gaining something new.

4. Altruism

Put simply, people want the best for those that they love. Also, we all have, to varying degrees, an inbuilt desire to help others, especially in time of need.

5. Mastery

The desire to learn more about and/or become better at some area that interests us. Humans demonstrate curiosity – some across a broad range of areas, some in only a few – but we all have it. Once individuals have discovered some area they want to become better at, they will devote energy and commitment through their own motivation

6. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Opportunities appear increasingly frequently in today’s world. But, they disappear quickly too. We all hate missing an opportunity that could have benefitted us

7. Ego

Never underestimate the desire to look good. Some of the most expensive products and procedures available are designed to improve your appearance – from fashion to cosmetic surgery. It is the motivator that people are least willing to admit to; so its use requires some subtlety. Two further manifestations of this are:

• a craving to be taken seriously. We all want to be heard and feel we are worthy of attention

• a desire to avoid embarrassment

8. Belonging

Humans are social beings, and we all want to be part of the group; or, at least, we don’t want to be the one left out. The need to belong is fundamental – programmed into us as part of our basic survival techniques. Sometimes this belonging is ‘herd’ based (smaller group of people linked by friendship or a common interest) and sometimes it is ‘tribal’ (larger groups, for example football clubs, political parties).

9. Competitiveness

People are competitive – some more so than others. Most groups have someone they see as their rivals – even if it’s a friendly rivalry (for example, inter-school and inter-departmental).

Identify which of these is most relevant to the person you are trying to persuade. Put your influence request in this context and they will become much more amenable. They may even talk themselves into it!

Kevin is an experienced conference speaker, workshop leader, facilitator and MC.

He speaks at conferences and seminars across Australia, New Zealand and Asia specialising in sales, negotiation skills, humour in business and communication skills. His clients include multi-national organisations, SMEs, politicians, members of the judiciary and Olympic athletes.

He has co-authored eleven books on communication skills and humour in business His articles are regularly printed in major daily newspapers in Australia and Asia.

Kevin is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) which is the highest possible level in professional speaking and the only one recognised internationally. He is a Past National President of Professional Speakers Australia. He has been inducted into the Australian Speakers Hall of Fame.

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