Influence People to Increase Your Success
By Chelse Benham
“Power lasts ten years; influence not more than a hundred.” - Korean Proverb
The ability to influence is the ability to change a person’s core beliefs in such a
way as to get them to want to do something, not force them to do something. It’s
a social skill that has the potential to make you president of a country or leader in
your industry. It’s a skill that requires effective and persuasive communication
and excellent people skills, but the returns are impressive.
“Effective, ethical persuasion is predicated on identification between the
persuader and his audience. We believe those people who look, act and sound
like us also think like us,” said Dr. George McLemore, associate professor in the
Communication Department at The University of Texas-Pan American.
“Ultimately, the audience is persuaded to the degree that they identify with the
The article “Control, Power & Influence: Six Basic Ideas to Consider” by Dr. C.S.
Clarke, author and founder of Super Performance web site, looks at the aspects
surrounding the skill of influencing others and those things you need in order to
1. All control is self-control. Although you may believe that you can control
another (or vice-versa), the truth is that what you perceive as control is influence.
2. You can influence another's reactions or choices, but that other person has the
choice of whether or not to respond to you and how to respond to you. Refusing
to control yourself and trying to control others is a waste of time.
3. Moreover, when you try to control what you cannot, you lose control of
yourself. Your sense of power, part of your self-esteem, depends upon your
satisfaction with your own performance. And if you are trying to control someone
else, you begin to think of what they do as part of your own performance.
4. Your best satisfaction with your performance (behavior) depends upon
divorcing the value of your action from the results. This is part of the concept of
personal responsibility -- you are completely responsible for what you do, think,
or feel, for who you are. But you are not responsible for the outside factors.
5. Control means choice. Self-Control is the control over emotions, thoughts,
body and behavior. Control over emotions, rather than the elimination of emotion,
means being able to choose emotional responses.
6. Self-control, power and influence: The person who realizes that he's the only
one in control of himself and acts always upon his own choices becomes very
powerful. Not only is he the most free of the influence of others, but also he is
most influential upon others. The self-controlled person is admired and sought-
after as a leader. He is also intimidating to the insecure.
Clarke stresses the importance of learning the difference between control and
influence. The difference is the key to true power. According to Clarke, “You can
improve the range and intensity of your influence and the probability of your
behavior accomplishing desired or predictable results by developing skills
designed for this purpose.” He recommends reading the book "Influence" by
Cialdini and the careful planning and strategy selection in the book "Art of War"
by Sun Tzu.
“Study your audience whoever that is,” McLemore advises. “You need to know
the values, culture, history and any and all aspects about your audience.”
Another book that made significant progress in defining and teaching the key
points of influencing others is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale
Carnegie written in 1936. It continues to be the ultimate reference when dealing
with and influencing people. In the first part of his book he offers some
fundamental techniques in handling people.
• Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
• Give honest and sincere appreciation.
• Arouse in the other person an eager want.
On the heels of that advice, he immediately provides six ways to increase
• Become genuinely interested in other people.
• Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.
• Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
• Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
• Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
The art of persuasion is just that, an art or skill. You must have the ability to
communicate effectively and persuasively in order to influence. You must be
seen to have integrity and work honestly with others.
“Aristotle said that people are persuaded by a person if they believe that person
as having a high character. Protecting one’s reputation is key to influencing
others. Protect your reputation at all costs,” McLemore warns.
There are concrete ways to build confidence in others belief in you. Carnegie
provides firm advice to help win people to your way of thinking.
• The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
• Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
• If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
• Begin in a friendly way.
• Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
• Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
• Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
• Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
• Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
• Appeal to the nobler motives.
• Dramatize your ideas.
• Give them a call-to-action. Present a challenge.
Dr. Stephen K. Markham, an associate professor of management at North
Carolina State University, evaluates how effective group leaders’ (champions’)
influence people (targets), in his article “A Longitudinal Examination of How
Champions Influence Others to Support Their Projects” in the Journal of Product
Innovation Management, Volume 15, Issue 6 , November 1998, Pages 490-504.
Markham identifies several different tactics used by group leaders to influence
behavior. The strategies are as follows:
• Region - This strategy involves the use of facts and data to support the
development of a logical argument. Sample tactic: ‘‘I explained the reason
for my request.’’
• Coalition - This strategy involves the mobilization of other people in the
organization. Sample tactic: ‘‘I obtained support of co-workers to back up
• Ingratiation - This strategy involves the use of impression management,
flattery and the creation of good will. Sample tactic: “I acted very humbly
while making my request.’’
• Bargaining - This strategy involves the use of negotiation through the
exchange of benefits or favors. Sample tactic: ‘‘I offered an exchange’’ (If
you do this for me, I’ll do something for you).
• Assertiveness - This strategy involves the use of a direct and forceful
approach. Sample tactic: ‘‘I demanded that he or she do what I request.’’
• Higher authority - This strategy involves gaining the support of higher
levels in the organization to back up my requests. Sample tactic: ‘‘I
obtained the informal support of higher-ups.’’
• Sanctions - This strategy involves the use of organizationally derived
rewards and punishments. Sample tactic: ‘‘I threatened to give him or her
an unsatisfactory performance evaluation.’’
Source: Adapted from Kipnis and Schmidt [32,34].
In Markham’s research found conclusive correlations between group leaders and
the people being influenced. His research showed that ultimately, it is very
important for people when they want to influence someone else that they create
a good rapport and use cooperative methods of engagement.
Carnegie offers some suggestions on how to accomplish this type of influence:
• Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
• Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
• Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
• Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
• Let the other person save face.
• Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be
"hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
• Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
• Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
• Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
Influencing others is an acquired skill that takes dedication, self-observation and
an understanding of social psychology to perform well. It may seem daunting;
however, when you get right down to it, it’s about common sense and respect for
others. Make them feel good and they’ll see things in a more positive way; your
“Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting
yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.” - Lao Tzu,
600 B.C. Chinese philosopher