Influencers from Around the World – The Unavoidable Influence of Death

This month’s Influencers from Around the World article is from Yago de Marta. If you’ve been a reader of Influence PEOPLE for any length of time then you’ve no doubt read some articles by Yago. I think you’ll find his perspective on influence and death intriguing. I encourage you to check out his website and reach out to him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Unavoidable Influence of Death

Some months ago a very popular person from my hometown died. His name was Jose Antonio Labordeta. The purpose of this article is not to remember his life because media all around the world, especially in Spain, have already done that. The article that appeared in The Guardian (UK) made me ponder the following questions about death’s influence on the living:
What involves death that makes it so influential? Why does death go beyond our daily affairs and routines? What is the mechanism of death’s influence?In Labordeta’s case there is an element which allows us to follow his influence. In 1975 he composed “Song to Liberty” (Canto a la Libertad). At that moment and many times since there were people who proposed this song as the regional anthem of this area, Aragón. And from that time forward the song was sung in different historical events.
However, on September 19 Labordeta died and from that moment on everything changed. Google tells us about the great number of people who attended his funeral. Maybe some of them had never heard of his songs but the crowd of people shows us the way individuals and associations mobilized to make “Canto a la Libertad” the anthem of Aragón.At this moment the song hasn’t officially become the anthem so it’s difficult to give a final valuation on the way Labordeta’s death will influence his works. Nonetheless, we do observe most of Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence in death and that’s what this article is really about.
Reciprocation: Yes, it’s true that the dead cannot give us anything to invoke reciprocity but in some way, if we show ourselves to be understanding and kind with the dead, we hope others will show empathy with us when we die. One of the most common activities of the human mind is to wonder, “Who will come to my funeral?” Taking this idea, if we are kind with the dearly departed then we think people will be kind with us when we pass on.Commitment and Consistency: From childhood on, we are told to be respectful of the dead. This has happened since the origins of humankind. This expectation causes a kind of fixed attitude toward death in our minds throughout life. Even when we are older, if somebody dies we show ourselves to be sad and sorrowful. We are that way partly because we are expected to act like that.Social Proof (Consensus): This is very remarkable in the case of film or pop stars. Regardless of whether you liked or disliked Michael Jackson’s music, or regardless of the fact that some months before he died many people thought he was a pedophile, when he died almost everyone felt something different; they felt a little sad and depressed. And most people around the world felt similarly. Knowing and seeing how others felt was like a multiplier effect.Liking: We are going to die, every single one of us. Such is life. This obvious idea is what makes us identify with a person who dies. We don’t always identify in the same way, but every time somebody dies around us we get this feeling. Further, the mirror neurons come into effect, when we identify with the person who has just died. We tend to be more empathetic, softer and kinder.Authority: Myths are built in death. It happens this way with famous painters, writers and even politicians. Death tends to make the principle of authority grow. When somebody dies, his or her personality reaches highest levels because we are more respectful with the dead. It could also be because of traditions or culture, but respect is a form of authority.Scarcity: There’s nothing in our whole life that creates more scarcity than death. When we die everything we could have said, made, painted or sung seems to be not enough. Life is short and limited. Before dying we can keep on painting, singing or doing whatever we please but from the moment of death it is no longer possible. And so there you have from my perspective, how we are all influenced by death. Death’s influence, like death itself, is unavoidable. Yago


3 replies
  1. Cheri Allbritton
    Cheri Allbritton says:

    I loved this post so much I read it twice. It kept bringing to mind my dad who passed away in 2006. He had an identical twin, my uncle, who is still living. And although many people could never tell them apart, the immediate family could of course. But they SOUNDED exactly alike too. Even I couldn't tell them apart if they were speaking from another room. Anyway, I missed my dad so much in the first six months after his passing I'd call my uncle (something I never made a regular practice of) just to hear his voice. After the third such call I finally confessed and told him why he was hearing from me so much. He was so nice about it. And as in all things, you manage through your mourning and move forward.

  2. Omar Sequera
    Omar Sequera says:

    Definately right…….I so enjoyed this reading! but I thought you were going to mention the fact that even when somebody misbehaved enormously in life (even in the case of some minor crimes or offences) It seemed to completely erase peoples' memory and just mention how good partner/husband/man he/she was…. which is totally absurd and don't understand.

    Great reading! keep up the good work!!


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