How to influence.

The Harvard business review published an article in May of 2015 entitled Understand the Four Component of Influence.  In this article the author nick Morgan identifies four components that people can leverage to be influential.

Being influential is essential to every job.  Whether you have to exert influence over colleagues in a large organization to move an initiative forward or exert influence with Clients in a small business to win an account, the art of influence is necessary for us all.

Mr. Morgan identifies positional power, emotion, expertise, and nonverbal signals as the four components that exert influence over others.

There are hundreds of articles, books, and webinars that claim to have the secrets to influence.  I don’t want to become another guru in that ocean, but I do believe Mr. Morgan has failed to identify a few key components, so I wanted to share with you the components of influence that I have found to be most helpful.

In my experience, there are six ways you can be more influential.  It is not necessary for all six of these components to be in your favor, but in my experience if you have a majority of these components on your side you will have a good chance at achieving your goals.

The first way to be more influential is to establish reciprocity.  Reciprocity can be established by giving something first.  This could be a simple cup of coffee or a minor concession.  By giving something to the other party first, you establish a sense of indebtedness where the other part feels more inclined to give back to you. This also establishes a tone of collaboration which will permeate through the rest of your negotiation.

Creating a sense of scarcity is another method of influencing.  Scarcity can simply be that you only have one contract to award.  Creating a sense of scarcity for the other party simply means that the number of opportunity’s to do business are not infinite. I try to limit my use of scarcity for fear of sounding like a used car salesman, but in most negotiations, this is a factor that need not be verbalized.

One can also use authority as a form of influence. Authority is similar to Mr. Morgan’s positional power.  It simply means you have the power to make a decision.  Authority can be used in many different ways.  Often authority is used in an inverse way.  In other words, during a negotiation one might say, “I don’t have the authority to authorize this, but I can talk to my boss and see what I can do”.  This can also sound a bit like a used car salesman, but in many occasions it is actually true.  Authority can also be used to say, “I have the authority to agree to this”.  Either one of these approaches can help move a negotiation along.

Establishing a sense of consistency is also important in a negotiation.  This means getting the other party to act in a manner that is consistent with their previous commitments or agreements.  This can be achieved by asking affirming questions that reinforce the other party’s position and then presenting your point of view in a manner that is consistent with their point of view.  Simply affirming that the other party agrees that your discussion will be a collaborative effort reinforces the position that concessions will be made.  In order to remain consistent bear in mind that you too will need to make concessions.

It’s very difficult to talk to someone you do not like.  Liking the person you are negotiating with makes them more willing to give concessions and concede to your point of view.  Establishing a pleasant rapport with the party your negotiating with is essential for success of your negotiation.  How you go about establishing a pleasant report will vary depending on the culture and individual you’re dealing with.

The last component that may be used for influence is establishing consensus.  This means demonstrating that some number of others agree with your point of view.  You may do this in a number of ways including making citations to other publications or by having others speak on your behalf.  Establishing consensus shows the other party that your position is backed by others.  This makes it more difficult for someone to take an opposing view.

These are the six components of influence that I have found to be most effective in negotiations. These principals come from the Science of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini..

As I said, I’m certain that there are volumes of information on this topic and I am not purporting myself as an expert.  Nonetheless, in my opinion, the Harvard business review fails to identify quite a few of these.

So I would love to hear how you have used these components of influence to your benefit or how others have used these on you.  Which one did you find to be the most influential?

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed this content, please feel free to browse my previous articles and please like, share, comment, and subscribe.  This helps promote my content and is greatly appreciated.


Leave a Reply