3 Drivers That Increase Your Influence

By Ryan Walcott

dateTue, Nov 18, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Would you like to achieve a 10x increase in performance at no cost?  Of course you would, and you can if you understand persuasion and influence properly.  Influence is the science of understanding the subtle, yet powerful "gear" capable of transforming virtually any interaction.

I've had the privilege of hearing two of the foremost experts on Influence speak in the last 30 days.  I thesmallbig-bookcover1recently wrote a post on Joseph Grenny's thoughts on the topic.   This week, I learned from Steve Martin 3 drivers that increase your influence and I want to share that learning with you here.  You can read about these in detail in his new book The Small Big.

1) The need to make effective and efficient decisions

2) The need to affiliate with and gain the approval of others; and

3) The need see ourselves in a positive light.


1) The need to make effective and efficient decisions

We want to make decisions that help us stand out from the crowd, and we want to do it quickly and effectively.  We are very busy and don't want to spend lots of time and brain power making most of our day-to-day decisions.  Steve suggests that we allow others to make comparisons in presentations so that the item you want the client to choose shines and makes it easier for them to choose it.  

For example, if you want to sell your most profitable product that is priced at $300, then offer another product that is priced much higher, say $1000, so that choosing the $300 product is easy as the next alternative.  You may never sell the $1000 product, but that is OK.  That product will drive the sales of your most profitable item.

He also suggests appealing to what the crowd is doing. Simply stating what others are doing in specific situations heavily influences how people act. Offer testimonials that are the most similar to the situation of the person you are trying to influence.  

2) The need to affiliate with and gain the approval of others

The main points here are reciprocity and humanization.  

  • Reciprocity - Help and give first, then arrange for people to have the opportunity to help you.  They will help you 4x more when you give and make them feel special.  
    • For example, the wait staff of a restaurant provided mints to their customers when presenting them with their bill.  One group provided a single mint to each customer when presenting the bill.  Another group presented two mints to each customer.  Their gratuity was 60% higher on average than the group that only presented one mint.  A third group presented one mint, then slowly walked a few steps, turned back and presented an additional mint while saying, "You are a special table so I have an extra mint for each of you."  This third group's gratuities were more than double that of the group that only presented one mint!  Simply because the customer felt special from the interaction.
  • Humanization - Put a face on it.  It is critical to humanize your interactions and appeals by putting a face on it.  People are much more likely to act when they see the human that will be affected by the action.  
    • For example, doctors in one study set were given sets of X-Rays and scans to evaluate.  On average, these doctors gave 2 recommendations for treatment for each case.  Another set of doctors were given the same X-Rays and scans to evaluate, only this group had the picture of the patient attached to the image sets.  These doctors gave on average 10 recommendations for treatment.  A nearly 3x difference!  Simply because they connected with the human pictured on the X-Ray.

3) The need to see ourselves in a positive light

People want to live up to their commitments and self-ascribed traits - so ensure their commitments to you are effortful and made public.

Ask them to verbally confirm. Ask them if they will tell you if any changes are needed.  When you leave a meeting, ensure you have voluntary, actionable, and public commitments from those who attended.  Don't do the work for them.  When you do the work for them, they are less engaged and will likely not accomplish anything when your interaction is over.

Then be sure to publicly recognize them when the actions and commitments are accomplished.

These are the three main drivers that increase your influence.  I hope you will explore Steve's book and learn from over 50 case studies to gain insights into how you can grow your influence.

Helping you grow,



Executive Summary from Patrick Thean's book Rhythm

Ryan Walcott


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images