Crucial to understand how influence works


As we settle post-election and enjoy our hard-fought freedoms (teamwork works), we can now start looking ahead and seeing what’s next.

Influence and positional power have both been on display and it is clear the shift is away from “positional power” towards “influence”.

Influence is illusive if we do not understand how it works, and influence is increasingly outperforming positional power (I am the boss so do what I say – or else). It is indeed becoming the new superpower, thanks to social media.

It really is far too easy to influence human beings, as evidenced around the world right now. The glaring examples show us why it is in our best interests to learn more about how it works.

To understand influence, we must first accept that our brain (necessarily) creates shortcuts to save us energy. It doesn’t do this because we tell it to, it does it because it helps us survive. It makes automations say that “this means that” etc .

Patterns of thinking are an example. If I believe people in authority know everything and I am not a person in authority, as I understand it, I abdicate my own thinking process and power. Then when a perceived authority figure says something, I might more easily adopt that view and make it true for myself – i.e a belief can turn into a fact in my own mind. That fact then influences how I go about my business.

Equally, the same belief may be expressed in a leadership position where it is a fact that as an authority figure “I know best”, and so perpetuate the old-style 20th-century leadership style that can lead to poor decisions because no-one can know better than “the boss”.

We all have these patterns operating about all sorts of aspects of life. They are operating beneath our awareness unless we are awake to them and stay vigilant when we see them in action.

That requires self-awareness. Without it we are blind to what is outside our manufactured view, and that is inhibiting.

Identity is a soft target too.

“These” people drink ” this” beer. “These” people believe and do “these” things it goes. We decide which gang to join and off we go.

Robert Cialdini lays it all out in his book Influence – The Psychology of Modern Persuasion. The six unconscious influence patterns Cialdini overviews (in a very readable way) are what all influencers understand. What turns us on and off can be quite predictable if we pay attention.

To grow your influence today, it comes down to what kind of person you want to be and what you deeply value that drives you in life – and an understanding of what connects and what doesn’t. These inquiries are very useful for us all, given we are all chief executive of, at the very least, a human lifetime. All influencers with longevity stand for something personally meaningful. We cannot be congruent without personal meaning.

Bottom line, influence starts at home – with self.

It has been a tough year for many, a gift to others.

Wellbeing and stress management are up right now and self-care is mission critical heading into the wrap-up of a year like no other.

Take the time to put “you” time in the diary and make your wellbeing a priority.

Influence your own life even as you seek to influence others. Your wellbeing matters.

If you model self-care in your own life, you have more influence in your world.

★ Amanda Fleming designs and presents workshops with The Business Hive in Oamaru. They believe Oamaru can become a great learning destination for visitors and locals. Find out more at: