Influencers from Around the World – A Short Course in Human Relations

This month our Influencers from Around the World guest post comes from someone who is familiar to long-time readers of Influence PEOPLE – Anthony McLean. Anthony is Australia’s one and only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT®). He heads up the Social Consulting Group where he teaches people about the principles of influence. I encourage you to reach out to Anthony on LinkedIn and Twitter to learn more from him.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
A Short Course in Human Relations
A past participant of the
Principles of Persuasion Workshop sent me the important message below. His name
is Peter, and he pointed out There’s
plenty of ‘POP’ in this.” Of course
he was right.
Let’s break it down one line at a
time and let me show you why there is so much of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s
Principles of Persuasion in this short piece.
The six
most important words – I admit that I was wrong.
In the Principles of Persuasion Workshop we teach the Principle of
which says we look to those with extra knowledge or
wisdom on a topic to guide our thinking when we are not sure what we should do.
As part of being an Authority you must be seen as credible and one of the most
important elements to being credible is being trustworthy. If I was to try to take
advantage of you, I would never admit a mistake, let you know I got something
wrong or was lacking in some area of my product or service. But an Authority never hides from weaknesses. They
admit when they are wrong. Why? Because they know how to make it better. So remember,
it’s a mistake to hide a mistake. Admit it, and admit it quickly, then set
about explaining how you intend to make it right. If you don’t, one of your
competitors will highlight it and then your credibility is gone.
The Five
most important words – You did a great job.
Everybody likes to be told they
have done a great job. These five simple words go a long way to triggering the Principle of Liking. Praise is something
that when given genuinely and selectively is a truly valuable tool in building,
repairing and maintaining relationships with others. Therefore don’t throw
praise around all of the time so it becomes common and of little substance. Give
your praise when it is deserved, make it specific and give it genuinely. If at
work delivering praise directly is inappropriate consider influencing the
influencers and deliver the praise indirectly to the person’s boss, colleague
or friends and allow them to deliver the message for you.
The four
most important words – What do you think?
On the face of it you may ask, how
does this question relate to persuasion? The answer is, all too often people
make statements but they don’t ask questions. Firstly this is poor form because
it is more aligned to ordering rather than engaging and, secondly, when you
make statements you remove one very important element from the interaction –
the ability of someone to commit to something. The Principle of Consistency says we encounter
personal and interpersonal pressure to remain consistent with previous
commitments or decisions we have made. If you ask me a question and allow me to
answer, it provides me the opportunity to make a commitment; publicly voicing
my ideas and actively committing toward a course of action. In your next
meeting, think about the questions you ask. Craft well-constructed questions
and give others the opportunity to answer them. Telling someone what to do or
making statements does nothing to engage their intrinsic motivators to drive
the situation forward.
The three
most important words – Could you please…
This line is an interesting one,
firstly because the Principle of Reciprocity says we are obliged to
give back to those who have given to us first. A nuance to the principle is, if
you are struggling to build a relationship with someone, ask him or her to do
you a favor. In doing so they need to have a shift in thinking because we don’t
do things for people we don’t like.  Therefore
by asking them to do you a favor moves them in your direction ever so slightly and
allows for a relationship to commence.
The second point I would make is
to refine the statement. “Could you” and “Can you” are permission statements.
They seek to gain permission or acknowledgement. The problem is if I say to my eight-year-old
son, “Could you clean up your room?” and he says, “Yes,” is he actually
committing to clean his room or is he just saying, “Yes I can, but no I won’t.”?
Therefore in seeking to gain a
commitment to trigger the Principle of Consistency. ask people active questions
that gain a commitment such as “Will you…” then wait for the answer.
The two
most important words – Thank you.
Thanking someone is not only
polite, it’s an important element in building and maintaining healthy
relationships. Therefore when someone does something that you appreciate be
sure to tell them and acknowledge their contributions. Doing so invests in the
relationship and can trigger the Principle of Reciprocity.
The other thing is when someone
thanks you for something you have done you must learn to accept genuine thanks
differently. If someone delivers a heartfelt thank you and you say “no problem”
or “I would have done it for anyone” you are devaluing the relationship. You
are in effect saying, “You are not that important to me and neither is this
Therefore, from now on listen for
genuine thanks from others and recognise it as an opportunity to acknowledge
the relationship you have and highlight that it is not over. Anything you say
will be better than “no problem,” but you must do a better job of accepting
thanks when it is genuinely given.
The most
important word – We.
The fastest and easiest way to
describe a relationship is through the pronoun “we.” It highlights you are
working together and you have things in common. Listen to when people use “we”
in a conversation and they may just tell you when they start to see you are in
a functional, working relationship with them, all through the use of the word
One word of warning though; don’t
use “we” too early in a relationship or with someone you have just met to
describe the two of you – it can come off as not genuine and a tactic rather
than a true reflection of your relationship with the person. Let the
relationship build and use “we” when appropriate to do so.
The least
important word – I.
The biggest mistake I see when
reviewing emails, copy and websites for clients is the text is all about the
persuader and not about the person or group they are seeking to persuade. A
very simple test is to do a word search and see how many times you use “I” as
opposed to the other person’s name or even the words you, your or yours. If you
talk about yourself more than the other person or group of people you have
missed the mark.
The other thing is they should
always appear in your email before you do. I am not talking about their name in
the greeting but in the first line. If you start off with,

Hi Brian,

I want to
write you about the new product I am bringing to the market….

This is wrong – it’s all about
you. Instead put them and their needs first. Such as:

Hi Brian,

It was
great to have met you at the conference and to listen to your thoughts on the
new policy change impacting our organisation. You may be interested in a new
product we are launching. Based on your comments I think it will help you…..

Therefore for a bunch of short
sentences I will paraphrase my friend Peter and say, “There is a lot of POP in


Anthony McLean, CMCT
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