My father called me up the other morning and asked, “What’s an influencer?” Instead of answering, I asked him a counter-question, “Where did you learn that word?”
Very shockingly, he replied, “You don’t know what an influencer means, and you call yourself a 21st-century guy! Every social media has an influencer that dictates the trend.” For a moment, I froze, “How does my Dad know this much about social media? He hardly uses them.”
I was getting late for my morning meeting, so I ended the chat. But that thirty-second conversation gave me something to think, learn and research; after all, who doesn’t want to be influential. We always want to be the one who inspires others to listen and act according to our ideas.
If we look more closely, we all are trying extremely hard to control other’s decisions. Consciously or unconsciously. Whether persuading our manager to give us a raise or convincing our roommate to declutter the dorm room — we’re always attempting to influence others.
However, we have associated “influencing” with “manipulation.” Deep down in our heads, we measure the level of our success and quality of our life based on our ability to impact others. But that’s not true. Influencing is not bullying, pushing, bludgeoning, or haranguing someone.
Influencing means impacting other’s lives. Positively. By having a strong opinion, we can help others improve, enabling them to reach their goals. Influencing means understanding yourself and others to create a pleasant environment; otherwise, too many cooks will spoil the broth. With a plentitude of ideas, chaos will follow, disrupting the growth of a team.
Besides, influencing means convincing others by our actions and behavior. People are always ready to come halfway(or even more) when they’re understood, accepted, and acknowledged. They may even agree to do something they don’t concur with if you have made them feel valued. That’s the power of influence.
Dale Carnegie explains the secret of influencing others in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. To know all is to forgive all.”
But, due to our faulty mindset of gaining supremacy, we use our power and position to get the work done. Instead of understanding people, we impose ourselves. Though we might succeed for a while, we lose for a lifetime. We lose a precious relationship.
So, here are some of the scientifically proven behaviors that can make you influential naturally without even trying to be one.
Make People Fall in Love With You (Organically)
We often say “yes” to the people we love even if we don’t want to. We don’t why, but most of the time, we respond to their requests affirmatively. That’s because of human psychology — “we like people who like us.”
Scientists D. Kenny, and W. Nasby, in their research “Splitting the reciprocity correlations.” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, (1980). p. 439–448 states that:
“If we love someone, we instinctively begin to obey them. (with respect)”
But how can we make people love us organically? For that, let’s examine why we love people. If we ask ourselves the reason for loving others, we’ll only have three answers:
- We love those who compliment us.
- We love those who cooperate with us.
- We love those with whom we share similar interests.
We can’t work on the third one, but we can surely practice the first two reasons. We can form emotional bonds with others by complimenting and cooperating with them.
What you can do:
A healthy approach of (genuinely) appreciating others is the subtle yet visible sign that you’re noticing others. We all love to hear praise and being seen by others. So use the same logic. If you like someone’s behavior, clothing, work attitude, performance, etc., express your feelings for them. Also, support and cooperate with others in their stressful times. If they have a project/assignment, help them finish it.
By praising or supporting others, two things will happen:
- You’ll be able to make a tiny soft corner for yourself in their hearts. As a result, they’ll be more receptive to your ideas and requests.
- Their self-esteem will increase, boosting their self-confidence. They’ll silently thank you for your “encouragement gesture” every time you meet them. Also, they’ll go the extra mile for you whenever you want.
People don’t fall in love with your appearance or your looks. Your down-to-earth behavior and helping attitude make you irresistible. So, try to genuinely build connections to be able to influence them.
Label People With Positive Attributes
Researchers Alice Tybout and Richard Yalch conducted a research experiment, “The Effect Of experience: A Matter of Salience?”
As a part of their experiment, they interviewed some citizens before the national elections. They formed two groups. They attributed the first group participants to be “above-average citizens who’re likely to vote” (based on their past voting behaviors). On the contrary, they labeled the second group as “average citizens who’re less likely to vote.”
After the elections, they found that more participants in the former group voted compared to the latter one. These results bolstered their hypothesis that labeling people help you influence their decisions.
We all have experienced this fact about labeling. We usually buy only those products whose labeling is enticing.
Let’s take our childhood experience. We all have been naughty at times when we deserved punishments. We all have failed our tests or exams. So, try to recall what happened. Instead of getting mad at us, our parents always expressed love by calling us with the names “You’re a good champ,” “You’re the best son/daughter,” “Apple of our eyes,” etc. This praise made us feel so good about ourselves that we obeyed (all) their rules.
The reason why labeling works so well with influencing is — when someone labels us “good person, hard worker, achiever, etc.,” we begin to see ourselves the same. We all have experienced that when someone calls us a “generous heart,” we think to ourselves, “They’re right; I am kind.” And when that same person asks us for a favor or presents an idea, we accept it.
Researchers A. D. Ball and L. H. Tasaki published a research study “The role and measurement of attachment in consumer behavior” in the “Journal of Consumer Psychology” (Volume — 1, 1992. p. 155–172) proving:
“When you label someone with positive attributes, the degree of compliance is high in those cases.”
What you can do:
Be generous in sharing love and appreciation. If you like something about a person, seize the moment to make their day. Associate their names with positive adjectives. If someone is peaceful and calm, you can call him/her a “zen person.” Likewise, you can use different names like “positive thinker, planning specialist, conquerer, peacemaker, wonder woman, superman, etc.”
However, there’s one golden rule — Don't fake it. Whatever you do, do it truthfully. A shallow compliment and flattery-like praise is easy to spot and can work against you. So, be genuine.
One dollar coin makes the same ringing sound as a 10 gm gold coin. But people value a gold coin more than a dollar coin. So, choose how you want to be influential.
Your ability to persuade others depends on how you present yourself and your ideas. The way you communicate with others plays a significant role in making you influential. And adopting those scientifically proven relationship etiquettes as mentioned above will make others respond more favorably to you.