The art of properly communicating with people can have an incredible impact on your life. Most people think of influence as being manipulative – but being able to persuade, encourage and inspire can have numerous benefits for both your professional and personal life.
You don’t have to be born with natural charisma in order to be influential. Like with many other things, influence can be learnt and there are several key principles that will help you make a bigger impact on people. Dr Robert Cialdini is famous for his work on influence and has formulated several principles that will help you to have more social impact. Here are some of the ways you can improve the way you connect with people this year.
The principle of reciprocity
Reciprocity, the idea of giving what you hope to receive, is a fundamental concept in our moral code. Reciprocity is actually an important part of humankind’s evolution. New research in the journal Psychological Science has shown that human cooperation, and by extension human civilisation, is driven largely by the desire for it. But this idea of reciprocity goes far beyond the simple moral creed of not harming others. People respond to the subtle ways that we treat them and we can become more influential by recognising this. If you want to be included, then include people. If you want to be respected, then show respect to other people.
The principle of consistency
Knowing that people strive to be consistent in their behaviour is powerful. This desire for consistency is driven by our self-image and can be activated by getting people to make small commitments. Getting someone to sign an anti-littering petition makes them less likely to litter. By getting them to commit, you are activating their desire for consistency between what they say and what they do. This principle is useful in various kinds of situations, from work to friendships. Asking your boss to write a blog about work-life balance might be a better way to stop him texting you at night than asking him directly.
The principle of social proof
This principle says that someone is more likely to do something if they know others are doing it. It’s why trends start on social media and testimonials are so important in sales. Referencing what others have said or thought about a project can have a profound effect on people’s perception of the same project. Remember, people don’t exist in isolation and are highly influenced by the crowd.
The influence of social media
Social media is far more influential than people originally gave it credit for. Be very aware of the kind of things that you are sharing and consuming on your newsfeed. A constant stream of bad news is highly likely to influence your emotional state. Oversharing on social media can also have a negative impact on the way that people perceive you.
Words by Joel Summers