Most of us want to be able to influence others. We all need to be able move others forward toward a goal, solution, or sale. Psychologists have been studying the science and art of influence for years. There are several influence hacks that have been observed. Of course, hacks alone are not enough. The best influencers have long-term influence development of the Seven Influence Traits. These hacks serve as icing on the cake of a solid foundation of personal development in the realm of increased influence.
These hacks are based on scientifically observed understandings of how your audience thinks and feels. Here’s the hacks.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THERIOS OF INFLUENCE AND PERSUASION
Here is a brief summary of 10 of key influence hacks with some additional insight. You might have found yourself trying these innately are even been taught them. They all work, though a few only in a short-term, limited-vision kind of way.
1. Amplification Hypothesis
Displaying certainty about an attitude when talking with another person will act to increase and harden that attitude. When the attitude displayed is more uncertain, then it will act to soften the attitude.
Using an emotional approach with someone who is makes a decision in a cognitive or rational way will increase resistance. Know your audience and use a cognitive approach with the “head wired.” The same thing happens in reverse, where a logical argument has little impact on a person who is an emotional/intuitive decision maker.
To influence another person, align your decision presentation with their approach. If you are non-aligned you will actually build resistance to the idea.
2. Conversion Theory
If you are the holder of a minority position you are actually in a place of strength. Others may have adopted the majority position without much thought out of a desire to belong or a lack of attention to the details of the position. You can have a disproportionate effect, converting many 'majority' members to their own cause.
If you find yourself in the minority position, be consistent in expressing your position confidently. The more unbiased your presentation, the better it will be received. If other’s sense your goal is merely to unseat the majority, you are not likely to get buy in. Some people prefer to be in the minority position as a point of uniqueness.
3. Information Manipulation Theory
I DON’T advocate this form of influence hack, but it has been shown by psychologists it can work short-term. In this hack, an influencer deliberately breaks one of the four disclosure maxims:
- Quantity: The information given is not complete (as per expected by the listener) and contains omissions.
- Quality: The information used to persuade is untruthful and incorrect.
- Relation: Information provided is not relevant to the subject matter but is presented as if it is.
- Manner: Arguments are structured in a way that confounds others with misaligned non-verbal language
While this approach works short-term, it can have disastrous results long-term. If untruth or omission is used to influence others, after they have made a decision to align themselves with your position, they can quickly have “buy in regret” as they realize they weren’t given an accurate picture. This can actually make them MORE resistant to any future ideas you present because you have broken trust.
You can be influenced by stimuli that affects how you perceive short-term thoughts and actions. For example D_ _ K could be completed as DORK or DARK. In a research study, participants’ responses were dependent on whether they had read a related word such as NIGHT, MOON and SLEEP in the preceding 24 hours. Those that had been primed with these words filled in the word as DARK in a significantly higher rate. In another study, a wine store played French and German music on alternating days, and the amount of French wine versus German wine sold was measured. More French wine was sold on days when French music was playing and more German wine was sold on the German music days. Think how you can prime the pump of decision by adjusting contexts, environments and language ahead of the crucial decision period.
5. Reciprocity Norm
This is a very common social norm which says that if I give something to you or help you in any way, then you are obliged to return the favor. The way to use this hack is NOT to do fake or insincere favors. Sincerity is crucial to this influence hack. Be genuine in your favors and kindness shown to others. Don’t merely do nice things to obligate others, but once you have set a foundation of kindness you can ask for something in return when it is truly needed, rather than having to wait for a voluntary reciprocal act.
6. Scarcity Principle
We all desire to control our world and choice is an important freedom. If something becomes scarce, we anticipate possible regret that we did not acquire it, and this increases desire. Worchel and colleagues offered subjects cookies in a jar. One jar contained ten cookies and the other had two. When observed, subjects preferred the cookies from the jar with two in, even though they were the same cookies.
Presenting the limitedness of time or availability to make a free decision on a position, service or product, works to pull the receiver towards your desired position.
7. Social Influence
Everyone has influencers whom they respect. We are influenced strongly by others based on how we perceive our relationship to the influencer. If they are seen as a high authority and they have formed some kind of connection with you, that is the highest form a social influencer can possess. Even at lesser levels, social proof works. For example, social proof on web copy is persuasive if the testimonials and recommendations are from authoritative sources, peers or people you perceive to be similar to you.
Tie your influence approach to key social influencers and others will be much more apt to adopt your position.
9. Yale Attitude Change Approach
A study by Yale over multiple years set forth the following criteria to foster change.
The speaker should be credible and attractive to the audience. Messages should not appear to be designed to persuade. If two people are speaking one after the other, it is best to go first. If two people are speaking with a delay between them, it is best to go last. It is easier to influence an audience with lower intelligence and moderate self-esteem helps, though these are definitely NOT the people you want to recruit on your team. Give me intelligence and high-esteem and I’ll do the hard work of persuading them any day. The easiest age range to influence is 18-25 year olds.
While these hacks DO work, they aren’t foundational to growing your influence. More important than surface level hacks is to do the work to develop the deeper and more valuable Seven Influence Traits®. These allow for long-term and rich growth of your ability to influence others.