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The Catalyst to Vegetarian

I’ve been reading The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Wharton Professor Jonah Berger. Good book, I highly recommend it. As I’ve been reading it’s caused me to consider why I made the switch to vegetarian last November.

My wife Jane has been a vegetarian for more than 25 years. She made that decision because she loves animals. She’s technically a pescatarian because she will eat fish. I tell people, if it walks or flies it’s off limits but if it swims it’s fair game. She must not have had goldfish growing up!

For most of those 25 years Jane has encouraged me to try vegetarianism. She was not overt, just subtle things as in, “Try this, you’ll like it,” or “I bet you’d like being a vegetarian.” My standard responses were, “I would never order that if I could get a steak instead,” and, This would be perfect if there were some chicken in it.”

I joked with people that we both loved animals: she loved saving them and I loved eating them. Knowing this, why would a guy who runs every day, lifts weights and does martial arts give up meat?

My catalyst for change was watching a Netflix documentary called The Game Changers. A UFC fighter was injured and looked into diet as a way to speed up his recovery. He was floored by what he learned about a plant based diet. He featured strength athletes, endurance athletes, mixed martial artists, football players and others who successfully made the switch.

I love my wife and I know she has my best interests at heart. During her years as a vegetarian she went through a pregnancy, ran two marathons, competed in triathlons and became an awesome golfer. But, there’s always that spousal rub. You know what I mean. Your spouse might suggest something and you contend with it but when someone else says the same thing, well it’s the best idea since sliced bread! Sad, but true.

Truthfully, the catalyst for me was the athletes. Because I had, or continue to participate in most sports I was intrigued by their results. When it comes to influence there was consensus, liking, authority and scarcity. A bunch of people (consensus) like me – athletes – (liking) had successfully made the switch. There was empirical data from doctors and other researchers (authority) to back up the claims. I wondered what I might be missing if I don’t at least give it a try (scarcity).

Believe it or not, I haven’t missed steak or chicken. You might think, “No way, I could never do that.” I’m with you because that’s what I would have said too. More importantly, what have I noticed since making the switch?

  • Although many people lose weight when they go vegetarian I’ve not lost or gained any weight. Mind you, I ate pretty good, much better than the average person to begin with, and worked out a lot.
  • I can’t say my athletic performance has improved but at 56 I don’t expect to run farther or faster than I used to because I don’t train like I did when I competed. The same goes for the weights. My goals are different now.
  • My annual physical was great! Cholesterol along with every other indicator were very good. Health, not athletic performance, is my number one goal now.
  • Jane’s life is much easier (that’s what I live for) because she no longer has to consider cooking meat or chicken when she makes dinner. I must say her cooking, which was very good to begin with, has gotten even better because she feels free to try new things.
  • When we go out we can split dishes now. This is particularly good because it seems like most meals these days can feed two or three people!

Bottom line for me, no big health or weight changes but given our lifestyle the switch has been good. That’s my diet and I’m sticking to it.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

 

Build Better Relationships Using Relational Influence

One key to living a successful, happy life are the relationships we build. The more connected you are at work the better your chances to get ahead. That’s because you have more people that can help you when you need it and more people to learn from.

On a personal level, strong relationships help us live happier, longer lives. That insight comes from a Harvard study that’s been following people for nearly 80 years.

This begs the question: How can we build relationships that can help us at the office and at home? A little influence goes a long way.

Liking

This principle of influence tells us it’s easier for people to say yes to those they know and like. While everyone understands this, the vast majority still go about it the wrong way. Rather than spending time trying to get people to like you, focus on liking the people you meet at work and outside of work.

Below are a half dozen ideas to help you do that. Each will make it easier for someone to like you but more importantly, each will also cause you to like the people you meet.

  1. Common – Find out what you have in common with people then talk about what you’ve discovered. It’s natural for us to like people we see as similar to ourselves. The more you see someone is like you, the easier it will be for  you to like them.
  2. Interests – Maybe you’re having a hard time finding similarities. No problem, make it a point to ask about things you know the other person enjoys. As they talk about people, activities or places they love they’ll associate those good feelings with you. At the same time, you’ll probably find them more interesting and likable.
  3. Compliment – When you look for the good in others and pay genuine compliments they feel good. If you’re authentic and do this regularly people will enjoy being around you. The reason you’ll like them more is because you begin to convince yourself about their goodness as you compliment them.
  4. Cooperate – When you and others put forth effort on something like a project, and have success, everyone tends to think more highly of each other. Knowing this, look for opportunities to work with people you want to build relationships with.
  5. Mirroring – When you make it a point to adopt a posture and mannerisms of someone else it gives a sense of comfort with you. That feeling of being in synch will also have you liking them more.
  6. Matching – Take a similar approach to language. For example: if someone speaks slowly, slow your pace. This is making a conscious choice to adjust yourself so the other person feels comfortable with you. You’ll find yourself feeling more comfortable with them too.

Unity

Unity goes much deeper than liking. Unity is about a oneness or deep connection you feel with someone else. When you experience unity it’s as if saying yes to the other person is saying yes to yourself.

Unity can’t me manufactured but when it’s discovered you need to talk about it. If you served in the same branch of the military as someone else or happen to be the same religious persuasion, make sure you bond over it. Discovering unity sets you in relationship immediately because you almost see the other person as an extension of yourself or somehow related.

Reciprocity

Reciprocity alerts us to the reality that we feel obligated to give back to those who first give to us. This is a relationship builder because when we give to or help others, they naturally appreciate the generosity and the person who enacted it.

The key here is to avoid the “give to get” mentality. If people think you’re only helping to get something it’s very likely they will reject your offer. Instead, give because it’s the right way, the best way, to live life. It’s when people sense your genuine kindness that they appreciate you and what you’ve done.

A few keys to giving that will increase the effectiveness:

  1. Make your giving personalized. They more your giving, or help, is specific to the individual the more it will mean.
  2. More is better. Any opportunity to give or help beyond the minimum will be appreciated even more.
  3. Unexpected giving or help means the most. When you proactively offer to help without being asked, that means a lot.

To Do This Week

If you want to start building stronger, lasting relationships focus on three things:

  1. Connect on liking by focusing on liking the people you meet.
  2. Look for shared identity – unity – and talk about it once you discover it.
  3. Have a giver mentality. Give generously and trust the rule for reciprocation will kick in.

Will everyone respond all the time? No. Will most people respond most of the time? Yes, and this is why you want to authentically engage liking, unity and reciprocity whenever possible.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

7 Deadly Sins When Trying to Influence PEOPLE

I just celebrated my 12th anniversary partnering with INFLUENCE AT WORK, the organization headed up by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. Cialdini, sometimes called “the Godfather of influence”, is the most cited living social psychologist on the planet when it comes to the science of influence. I have the privilege of being one of only two dozen people worldwide to have been personally trained and certified by Cialdini to teach his methodology when it comes to influence.

During my years working with people I’ve run into countless times where I’ve seen salespeople, marketers, leaders and many others incorrectly use the principles of influence. Here’s why it’s a big problem – when people use the principles incorrectly they don’t see the results they expect. That failure leads to, “Yea, it sounds good when he says it but it doesn’t work in real life.”

Trust me, used ethically and correctly, the principles of influence will move more people to act. There’s seven decades of research to back up that statement. To help you avoid that pitfall I want to share the 7 deadly sins – one for each principle – I see when people attempt to use the psychology of persuasion.

Liking

We all know it’s easier to say yes to those we know and like. Whether you’re in sales, coaching or leadership, the more someone likes you the more likely they are to follow your advice.

  • Mistake. Knowing this, people work too hard to get others to like them. They end up coming across like a desperate salesman who will say or do anything to close the sale.
  • Solution. Stop trying to get people to like you. Instead, try to like the people you’re with. As others sense you genuinely like and care for them, they will be far more likely to say yes to you.

Unity

Unity is about shared identity. We when see another person as one of us, saying yes to them is like saying yes to ourselves.

  • Mistake. People think this is the principle of liking on steroids. With that thought, they try harder than ever to connect on what they have in common.
  • Solution. Unity isn’t always available but when it is, tap into it. Do some homework to find out if you share something deep with the others person. It may be that you served in the same branch of the military, were in the same fraternity or sorority, or happened to share the same cultural heritage.

Reciprocity

From the time we’re young we’re taught that when someone does something for us we’re expected to do something in return. Help someone first and they’re likely to help you in return.

  • Mistake. I see marketers blow this one all the time. They encourage people to give a free gift after someone does something like sign up for a newsletter. That’s not reciprocity, that’s offering a reward as inducement and there’s a big difference.
  • Solution. Encourage people to take advantage of a free offer then, after they’ve done so, you can ask for something in return. “I hope you enjoy the free article! In fact, I hope you enjoy it so much you’ll want to sign up for our newsletter to learn even more. Click here to do so.”

Consensus

Humans are pack animals. Over the course of history, we’ve learned there’s safety in numbers and “everyone can’t be wrong.” Generally, it works well for us to follow the crowd.

  • Mistake. Thinking highlighting a big number is all that’s needed. For example, telling incoming college freshman 65% of students cheat (I made that up) in order to highlight the problem only encourages more cheating, making the problem worse.
  • Solution. Think about the behavior you want then emphasize stats that will encourage the desirable behavior. “College cheating has been on the decline each of the last five years,” would be a good message to encourage less cheating and get the behavior you’re hoping for.

Authority

People will listen to perceived experts, and follow their advice, far more often than they will someone whom they know nothing about.

  • Mistake. Don’t wait until the end of your talk or meeting to highlight your expertise. By that time people may have tuned you out.
  • Solution. Whether it’s a presentation or running a meeting, let people know your credentials up front. If possible, have someone introduce you for even more credibility. This approach causes people to listen more closely early on and likely throughout your presentation.

Consistency

People tend to feel better about themselves when their words and deeds match. As little pleasure seekers and pain avoiders this is a powerful principle.

  • Mistake. Too many people tell others what to do and think they’ve engaged the principle of consistency. When you tell someone what to do you’ve not triggered the psychology of wanting word and deed to match.
  • Solution. Stop telling people what to do and start asking. When you ask and someone says “Yes” they’re far more likely to follow through on their word because they don’t want to feel bad and look bad.

Scarcity

It’s a natural human tendency to want we can’t have or whatever might be going away. We hate the thought of having missed out on something.

  • Mistake. Manufacturing false scarcity will hurt your credibility. Don’t use the worn out line, “If you sign today I can save you 15% but I can’t offer you this deal after today.” Seldom is that true and people have learned to see through it.
  • Solution. If scarcity isn’t available, don’t manufacture it. If it is naturally available use it but don’t come across in a fear mongering, scare tactic way. “I’d hate for you to miss out on this opportunity,” is more effective than, “You really should take advantage of this deal.” It’s a subtle difference that can make all the difference.

BONUS! Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast isn’t actually one of the 7 principles of influence. It’s a psychological concept that’s always available because people are always making comparisons. Knowing this, it deserves mention.

  • Mistake. Too often people make the wrong comparison. In sales this happens when people try to “upsell” customers. The problem is, once you’ve seen a low number it becomes an anchor and all other numbers seem bigger by comparison as you try to upsell. Not exactly what you want when trying to close a sale.
  • Solution. Present your best solution, product or service first. You never know, the other person might just say yes. If they don’t, you have options to retreat to and when you do so, the price on those options looks better by comparison.

Conclusion

The principles of influence describe how people typically think and behave. Consider them communication tools and, like any tool, they’re only as good as the person who wields it. You may know how to use a saw and hammer but that doesn’t make you a carpenter. The same goes with the principles. Knowing and wielding them correctly (and ethically) are two different things.

To Do This Week

  1. Give these mistakes thought.
  2. Ask yourself if you’ve made any of these mistakes.
  3. Commit to keep learning and growing.

Do those three things and you will have more people saying yes to you more often.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

From Womb to Tomb Each of Us is a Persuader

From womb to tomb, each of us uses the skill of persuasion throughout our lifetime. As soon as babies come into the world they cry because they want to be held, fed, burped or changed. They don’t understand they’re engaging the skill we call persuasion, but they know they have a need and they want it met! Persuading others to act is one big way each of us seeks to get our needs met every day.

What is Persuasion?

Persuasion is more than changing hearts or minds, it’s ultimately about changing behaviors. Aristotle put it best when he said persuasion was, “The art of getting someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

If someone is already doing what you want then persuasion isn’t necessary. However, if someone isn’t doing what you need them to do then how you communicate might make all the difference between yes and no. But doesn’t this border on manipulation?

Persuasion vs. Manipulation

Persuasion differs from manipulation in that manipulation is one sided. The manipulator doesn’t care about the other person. Manipulators only focus on what’s good for them.

Persuasion on the other hand carefully considers the other person, their wants, needs, desires and goals. Ethical persuaders focus on three very important things.

  1. Win-win. Ethical persuaders look to create mutually beneficial outcomes. I like to say, “Good for you, good for me, then we’re good to go!”
  2. Ethical persuaders tell the truth and they don’t hide the truth. By being truthful to a fault they build trust with everyone they interact with.
  3. Ethical persuaders only use psychology that’s natural to the situation. For example, if scarcity doesn’t exists they don’t falsely create it.

Relationships are the Foundation

It’s a well-established fact that people prefer to say yes to those they know and like. The mistake most people make in relationship building is focusing on getting others to like them. Getting others to like you can be effective and it’s not difficult to do. Two simple ways to make this happen are to focus on what you have in common and pay sincere compliments.

It’s very natural for us to like people we view as similar to us. For example, if you and I find out we grew up in the same hometown, went to the same college or cheer for the same team, you will like me more. Along the same lines; if I pay you a genuine compliment you’ll feel good about me and like me more. Nothing new here.

While there’s certainly benefit to that approach I’ve learned there’s a much better way. Cultivate the following mindset: I want to like the other person. And here’s some great news – the very same things that will make you like me will make me like you. In other words, when I find out we grew up in the same hometown, went to the same college, or cheer for the same team, I will like you more. If I pay you genuine compliments I will see you as a good person and I will like you more.

This is a game changer because when you sense deep down that I truly like you – and I do – you become much more open to whatever I may ask of you. Why? Because deep down we all believe friends to right by friends.

No More Manipulation

Here’s where manipulation is all but removed from the equation – the more I come to like you the more I want what’s best for you. Now my attempts to persuade you come from a place of wanting the best for you and you receive it that way. We have a virtuous cycle that’s good for you and good for me.

The subtle shift from getting others to like you, to becoming a person who likes the people you work with, naturally makes you the kind of person others want to be around and work alongside. In other words, you become the preferred teammate.

Keys to Ethical Persuasion

The following principles are scientifically proven to help you be more persuasive. The science is based on more than 70 years of research from social psychology and more recently behavioral economics. Let’s briefly look at each principle.

Liking. The principle of liking was just described in detail above. Coming to like others will cause them to like you and will make it easier to persuade them because you’ll want what’s in their best interest.

Reciprocity. When you give, people will naturally want to give in return. I help you, you help me and we’re both better off. Remember, because I’ve come to like you, my giving is from a place of goodness, wanting to help you in ways that will be beneficial to you.

Social Proof. The actions of others impact how we think feel and behave. It’s why we’re drawn to “best sellers” and “most popular” opportunities. If others like you prefer something, it’s a good bet you’ll feel the same and be willing to follow their lead.

Authority. We feel better following the lead of experts. The more you establish yourself as an expert or the more you bring credible expertise into your communication the easier it will be for someone to follow your advice.

Consistency. Most people feel better about themselves when their words and deeds align. Telling someone what to do is never as effective as asking because psychologically, once someone responds saying they’ll do something, they’re more like to follow through. That’s because they want to feel good about themselves and look good in your eyes.

Scarcity. It’s natural for us to want things more when we believe they’re rare or going away. But the key is knowing that. By honestly telling someone about an opportunity that might not be available soon, or what they may lose if they don’t follow your advice, they’re more likely to act.

Full Circle

I used the term “virtuous cycle” earlier. Ethical persuaders understand this and take the long view when it comes to working with people. They recognize it starts with relationship. The stronger the relationship the easier everything becomes thereafter.

I often ask people; is it critical to your professional success that you understand how to get more people to say yes more often? The answer there is always a resounding yes! They also recognize the importance yes plays at home. After all, things tend to be more peaceful and happier at home when those around you willingly say yes.

By studying the influence process and psychological triggers that lead to yes you will enjoy more success at the office, happiness at home and be the kind of person others want to work with.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence and persuasion.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling gAmazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 90,000 people around the world!

What Do These Have in Common?

What do these seven things have in common?

  1. Brass name plate
  2. House with a white picket fence
  3. Family playing a game
  4. Ancient map of the world
  5. Giant orange work glove
  6. Airplane flying by
  7. Golf clubs, tennis racquet and a basketball

If you put them together they form a slightly weird, but memorable word picture, and are prompts for questions you can ask when you meet someone for the first time. I learned this ice breaker approach in a Dale Carnegie class more than a dozen years ago. Here’s the weird word picture:

When you look at someone for the first time imagine a big, brass name plate above their head. As you approach them you see a nice home with a white picket fence. You enter the home and see a family playing a game. You look across the room and see a fireplace with an ancient map of the world on the mantle. Magically, you ascend the chimney and there’s a giant orange work glove at the top. As an airplane flies by the glove grabs it by the tail and on the wings you see golf clubs, a tennis racquet and a basketball.

Let’s dissect each of the items to find out how they can help you initiate conversation in a non-threatening way and kickstart the principle of liking.

  1. The brass name plate is a simple reminder to ask someone their name. Once you’ve done that, picture their name written on it to help you remember it.
  2. A house with white picket fence is a prompt to find out where someone currently lives.
  3. The family playing a game is a visual to ask, “Tell me about your family.” This is better than asking, “Do you have any kids?” because that can be a sensitive subject for some people who cannot have children or chose not to.
  4. The fireplace with an ancient map of the world is a subtle reminder to ask where someone is originally from. This question is good because most people don’t live in the same town where they were born.
  5. The giant orange work glove on top of a chimney is a prompt to ask what the person does for a living.
  6. The plane flying by is a trigger to find out, “Do you like to travel?” or “Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?”
  7. Finally, the golf clubs, tennis racquet and a basketball on the wing of the plane can start a conversation around hobbies and sports the person might enjoy.

Why all the questions? A big part of your ability to influence people is contingent on building good relationships. It’s a scientific fact according to principle of liking; the more someone likes you the better your chance of hearing yes when you try to persuade them. With that in mind, here are three big reasons to use this approach:

  • In How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie encouraged readers to show genuine interest in the other person. I’m sure you feel good when someone shows real interest in you so be that person for someone else.
  • Connecting on what you have in common is a simple way to bond with another person. The more you find similarities the easier it is for them to like you and for you to like them.
  • Last, the more you learn about someone the more opportunities there are to pay a genuine compliment. The more you offer genuine praise, the more the person will like you and you’ll like them.

Conclusion

Whenever you meet someone for the first time – be it at a networking event, work, party – it can feel awkward to get a conversation going. But it doesn’t have to be when you have a script to follow. I encourage you to practice each question till they roll off your tongue in a natural, conversational way. Do so and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more people like you and how you’ll come to like others in return.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 65,000 people! Have you watched them yet? Click a course title to see what you’ve been missing.

LinkedIn is “Social” Media so Try Being Social

One definition for social is “pleasant companionship with friends or associates” (Merriam-Webster). You’re probably social at work when you interact with people in friendly ways. That’s natural and makes work more enjoyable. Are you social on social media?

Social media helps connect people. Never in the history of humanity has it been so easy to connect with so many people anywhere in the world. I’ve made friends across the globe – and met some in person – because I chose to be social on social media. You never know where those relationships will lead.

How I use LinkedIn

I accept every request to connect on LinkedIn even though most people don’t know how to use LinkedIn effectively. For example, too many people just click on the request to connect button without sending a personal message to say why they want to connect. When I get a request like that I always send this message immediately after accepting the connection:

Thanks for reaching out to connect with me Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Almost everyone responds and the number one reason they want to connect with me is because they’ve taken one of my LinkedIn courses. It would be foolish on my part to dismiss so many connections – especially those who’ve enjoyed my course – just because they’re not more LinkedIn savvy. And who knows, those people could be clients in the future.

I like when people are honest and tell me, “I just clicked on the connect button because LinkedIn suggested you. I hope that’s okay?” My usually response: “Thanks for letting me know. Today is your lucky day!” My humor gets laughs and often opens up people to further communication. It’s being social.

An Interesting Exchange

The best exchange happened recently. I changed the name and a few other facts to keep the person anonymous. You’ll see the importance of being social in our brief exchange. There was humor and the principle of liking was clearly in play for both of us.

Me: Thanks for reaching out to connect Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Joe: It suggests people. You looked interesting!

Me: Thanks for letting me know. I’ve done courses for LinkedIn Learning so a lot the time that’s the reason. It’s good to know why people are reaching out. I’m going to let my wife know someone found me interesting today. Every little bit helps. 😉 Have a terrific day. Brian

Joe: You tell her I found you interesting AND handsome AND someone who looked like he’d be an awesome husband.

Me: I’ll show her that message!

Me: I just show her and she said, “He seems like a funny guy.” I told her I wasn’t sure about that but being an Ivy League grad, I knew you were smart…and perceptive!

Joe: A smart something …. do you do talks for insurance conferences?  I am co-chairing an insurance sales conference this year.

It remains to be seen if I’ll speak at the conference but I know this: my odds are much better than they’d have been if I had rejected the connection. If I’d have accepted the connection, but not been social, my chance to speak would have still been much less.

Consider…

There are plenty of reasons to steer clear of social media and one big one is the time suck once you start scrolling through feeds. To prevent falling into the time trap set designated times to use certain apps. For example: I generally try to use LinkedIn early in the morning and limit browsing Facebook to the times when I take a mental break from reading or writing.

Something else to consider – don’t wait until you need to make LinkedIn connections to start making them. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. They start working it after they’ve left a job and need a new one. Think of LinkedIn connections like regular relationships – the more time you invest everyday the better positioned you’ll be when you need help. People are more willing to help those they consider friends (liking) and those who’ve helped them in the past (reciprocity). It starts with you being friendly and looking for ways to help others.

Conclusion

If you want to grow your influence I encourage you to be more social on social media. It’s a great opportunity to practice your influence skills, make friends, and maybe open the door to new opportunities.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.

The First Day of My New Career and the Rest of My Life

Today is the day – the first day of my new career and the rest of my life!! In September I announced a huge change was coming and it’s finally here. After 28 ½ years I’ve left State Auto Insurance to pursue Influence PEOPLE as my fulltime endeavor.

When I decided to make this move back in September my feelings were primarily a mixture of fear and excitement. As each day passed and I began to see the future more clearly the fear subsided and my excitement grew. While there are no guarantees in life all I see is opportunity ahead.

One thing that’s really stood out with my career change is this – if you truly come to like and enjoy the people you support (principle of liking) and do whatever you can to help others (principle of reciprocity) you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people will want to help you before you even ask.

Not only is this a career change, it’s a life change. I told my wife I’m going to look at everything I do – when I get up, how I work out, where I do my work, when I work and so on – and see what changes I want to make. I feel like I’ve moved into a new house and the opportunities to make it my dream home are endless.

With Thanksgiving soon upon us this is a good time to give several big THANK YOUS.

To all the State Auto employees, former employees, and agents who have reached out to ask how they can help me – THANK YOU! Your willingness to support me gives more even more confidence that I’ve made the right decision.

To my friends at INFLUENCE AT WORK – Bob, Greg, Bobette, Cara, Eily and Jandy – THANK YOU for your support and  encouragement.

To all of you who’ve been loyal readers of Influence PEOPLE over the years – THANK YOU! When I started blogging nearly 10 years ago I never imagined I would gain a following across the country and around the world. You also give me confidence in the choice I’ve made.

As I close I will be so bold as to ask for a couple of favors:

  1. If you’ve enjoyed the blog and have found it useful on a professional and/or personal level would you share it with friends and coworkers?
  2. If you think your organization could benefit from influence training, coaching or consulting would you share Influence PEOPLE with decision makers?

One last time – THANK YOU!

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed 150,000 times! The course will teach you how to ethically engage the psychology of persuasion throughout the sales process. Not watched it yet? Click here to see what you’ve been missing.

Nike’s “Just Do It” to Build Better Relationships

Nike’s “Just Do It!” is famous around the world. It encourages you to get up and get moving. What are you waiting for? Just do it!

When it comes to influence “Just Do It” is great advice to build relationships and strengthen existing ones. But there’s a twist; just do the right things because they’re the right things to do.

Last week I completed my final Principles of Persuasive Selling Workshop at State Auto Insurance. Over the past decade I’ve led nearly 60 workshops and worked with more than 700 managers and salespeople. When it comes to relationship building I always emphasize to participants they should do the right things just because they’re the right things to do. Let me explain.

Engage Reciprocity

When it comes to engaging the principle reciprocity I’ve heard people describe it this way, “Give to get.” No, don’t give to get! When people sense you have an agenda, you’re only giving or helping in order to pull some lever and get a favor in return, they’ll probably reject your offer.

You should give because it’s the right thing to do and the best way to live life. Thousands of years ago Jesus taught His followers it was better to give than receive. He understood how humans thought and behaved and knew people would naturally want to give back to those who first gave to them.

When you give without expectation some people might take advantage of you. However, I think you’ll find far more appreciate your generosity and will be open to helping you whenever you may need it in the future. This is why Zig Ziglar used to tell audiences, “You can get everything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

Tap into Liking

The other relationship building principle is liking. I think you’d agree that life is richer and more fulfilling when you have many friends and loved ones. However, don’t focus on getting people to love or like you because you might come across as desperate.

Instead, focus on coming to like people. When you focus on others, and people sense you truly like and care about them, they become far more open to any request you might make. Why? Because we naturally assume friends do right by friends. Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him you are his sincere friend.”

When you tap into the principle of liking it all but removes manipulation from the persuasion equation. Why do I say that? Because when you truly like someone – you can call them friend – you won’t manipulate them. Far from it because you want the best for your friends and loved ones.

Let me wrap up with a question – Do you want more, and better, relationships? If you answered yes then I have two simple suggestions. First, go into situations with this mindset; I want to like the people I work with and serve. Look for the best in others, talk about what you have in common and give sincere praise when it’s due.

Second, focus on giving in ways that will be beneficial for the people you come across. This is much easier when you actually like them because you’ll naturally want to help your friends. And the more you know them the more appropriate your giving and help will be.

Relationship building isn’t rocket science. All it takes is your willingness and a little more effort. Just Do It!

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed nearly 150,000 times! The course teaches you how to ethically engage the psychology of persuasion throughout the sales process. Not watched it yet? Click here to see what you’ve been missing.

A Wealth of Information Creates a Poverty of Attention!

Multi-tasking is a fallacy. Despite what you might believe, our brains cannot consciously focus on multiple tasks. Studies show when you try multi-tasking you’ll take longer and make more mistakes than you would have if you’d tackle one thing at a time. Sure, you can walk and talk but walking doesn’t take conscious thought most of the time. However, when something requires your attention, like avoiding stepping into the street into oncoming traffic, your ability to focus on the conversation, or anything else for that matter, is temporarily diverted.

In the world we live in some estimates say you’re bombarded with 3000 to 5000 marketing message a day. The late Herbert Simon, an economist, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, said this about information overload, “…information consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Your “poverty of attention” creates the inability to focus and is due in large part to the overstimulation of daily life. But it’s not just marketing that causes it. Your cell phone is part of the problem. Google “cell phone addiction” and you’ll get millions of results! According to an article on Health.com, smartphones have lots in common with Vegas slot machines and they’re altering our brains.

As a persuader you’re competing against this overstimulation and lack of attention. What can you do? By thoughtfully incorporating the principles of influence into your communication you can bypass a lot of the noise.

One big reason using the principles work so well is due to human evolution.  Over the course of history, the principles enabled humans make better decisions faster which increased our survival rate. Travel back in time and consider:

  • Someone who looked, sounded and acted like you could probably be trusted without giving it much consideration (liking).
  • There’s a rustling in the woods so everyone takes off running…and you do too, with very little thought (consensus).
  • There’s not much Wooly Mammoth left so you quickly get some because you don’t know when the next kill will be (scarcity).

These are just a few examples where the psychology of persuasion prompted actions that generally led to good results. Our world is vastly different than the one our ancestors occupied but we still face psychological threats and the wiring of the human brain hasn’t changed.

  • You get a new boss and you have many things in common. You immediately like your boss (liking) which makes working with her easier and less threatening.
  • You’re in new job and realize on day one that you’re not dressed like everyone else. That night you head to the store to make wardrobe adjustments so you’ll fit in a little better (consensus).
  • Things are changing at work but despite the fact that you’re not in agreement with everything you don’t speak up (scarcity).

We face a different environment than our ancestors but we’re using the same brain. The more you look for opportunities to tap into the principles of persuasion the easier it will be for your message to cut through the information overload.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed nearly 150,000 times! The course teaches you how to ethically engage the psychology of persuasion throughout the sales process. Not watched it yet? Click here to see what you’ve been missing.