The Art of Influence

I began this article with the title “The Art of Manipulation”, but felt the negative connotation would undermine the message. First lets discuss why a person would want to influence another.  In society the most common mass influence we have is negative reinforcement.  If you break a set of rules your freedom is taken in the hope that your behavior will somehow change or at the very least you will be unable to continue the behavior for at the least until the term of your imprisonment is over.  Though this system is one of the worst uses of influence ever devised it is still the most common.  A more positive influence we do socially (outside of middle and high school) is reward the most intelligent among us.  Doctors, Lawyers, and other professionals have to go through intense schooling and when done are rewarded by being allowed to charge high prices for their services.


These are great examples of how society can influence the population within, but what if you want to influence on a more personal level.  Before you attempt to influence someone make sure you fully understanding that any interaction with another person is permanent and will not be forgotten.  If your goals are underhanded or self serving then there will likely be negative consequences.  The first step is knowing exactly what your goals are with the interaction.  The second step is spending time thinking about the other person and why they don’t see things in your perspective.  The need to influence should only come after first simply asking for whatever you would like.  If this fails then surely the person will have their reasons.  Make sure when discussing the issue you keep the conversation passive.  Don’t push your thoughts onto them simply attempt to uncover why exactly they feel the way they do.


Now we have a good idea of what we want from a person and why the person objects.  It is time to begin the influence.  There are several ways to begin.  What I like to do is first begin developing a list of why my idea is better than the other.  During this time be sure to also merge your idea with the other.  This will be difficult, but greatly increases your chances of successfully influencing someone.  Next it is time to begin working on how you approach the subject.  Many times the influence will fail if the topic is brought up with too much pressure to see things your way.  If you bring up an idea in a way which shuts down any argument the chance of changing someones opinion will be small.