The Ten Laws of Influence


The Eighth Law of Influence:

If you are observant, people will reveal what they find most influential.

The eighth law of influence is a corollary of the seventh:  if you observe people carefully, they will reveal what they find most influential, and that can help you determine how best to influence them.

What should you observe?  Listen to what they say:  what they focus on, what concerns them, how they talk about their lives and work.  Notice their appearance, choices, and behavior.  Notice, even, how they create their home and office spaces.  Here are some more specific suggestions for each of the ten influence techniques.  (To learn more about influence techniques, see Understanding Influence.)

Logical persuading.  People likely respond best to logical persuading are orderly and methodical.  They’re data oriented, prone to use graphs and charts or other analytical displays, are logical and process driven.  They may have a scientific or technical background, an advanced degree or certification, and be academically inclined.  They may work in medicine, law, accounting, or business.  They will talk about whether something is logical or “makes sense.”

Legitimizing or Appealing to Authority.  People who respond well to this influence technique respect authority.  They tend to follow rules, guidelines, and procedures.  They respect tradition or are impressed by titles, honors, degrees, rank, and position.  They are often sticklers for following rules and may obey without question when given direction by people in authority.  They may work in or for a government or belong to a hierarchical organization or society.

Exchanging.  People who can be influenced by exchanging generally love to bargain.  They may come from a culture where bartering is a cultural norm.  They expect to give and take, will do favors for others and expect reciprocation.  They look for bargains while shopping and may enjoy bartering with shopkeepers and vendors.

Stating.  People who respond to this influence technique are generally direct and matter-of-fact.  They are often impatient if a conversation or meeting goes on too long.  They want closure, will listen to others and then make quick decisions.  They are good at following orders and direction and will often comply without question.  They don’t want numerous options—they just want to know how to do something and when to have it done by.  They may prefer to work alone and are sometimes not joiners.

Socializing.  People susceptible to socializing are often outgoing and friendly.  They enjoy small talk, want to get to know other people, and are comfortable with strangers.  They often have family photos and other personal items displayed in their office.  They will mix business talk and personal/social talk.  They usually have favorites (sports teams, movies, restaurants, clubs, vacation spots, etc.), and they love to talk about them.  They are usually curious about other people and love to get together.  The extraverts enjoy big gatherings; the introverts are more inclined toward small parties or socials.

Appealing to relationship.  Most people are responsive to this technique.  Those most inclined have many friends or close acquaintances.  They may come from a large family and are close to their siblings, parents, and extended family members.  They are cozy with friends and spend lots of time with them.  They identify strongly with a particular group, team, clan, or club.  They are joiners and are active in the social groups they belong to.  They may respond to socializing as well, but they tend to be more clannish, to have very close relationships with a smaller group of people.

Consulting.  People who respond to this influence technique generally love to share their thoughts, opinions, perspectives, and ideas.  They are creative and are good problem solvers.  They generally make suggestions and enjoy brainstorming solutions, especially with others.  They ask people for their opinions and take pride in their own suggestions and contributions.

Alliance building.  People susceptible to this technique will ask or be concerned about what other people think.  They prefer to work in teams, are joiners, and typically want social proof before action or making a decision.  They tend to be collaborative and may say “we think” more often than “I think.”  They generally go along with whatever the group decides.  They may take the lead but want others to join and may be less comfortable forging ahead on their own.

Appealing to values.  People responsive to this technique often have causes, high ideals, and strong beliefs.  They may be inspired by moral, religious, or political leaders, have strong religious convictions, or devote time to or support humanistic charities.  They may be strongly patriotic, talk about values and feelings, and express concern or conviction about what is right or wrong.  They will usually be earnest in their convictions and not cynical.

Modeling.  To some extent, we are all influenced by modeling, but the people most susceptible to this technique will have role models, will want to follow proven paths, and will strive to emulate people they admire.  They may talk about the people they admire or follow and will cite or quote those people or others they consider experts.

The art of influencing others effectively is to be observant and identify which mix of influence techniques people are most likely to respond to.  If you use the same technique all the time with everyone, you will be less effective than if you tailor your approach depending on the person you’re trying to influence.  Be observant, and they will reveal in their words and actions how best to approach them.