Influencers from Around the World – Influencing in Australia

This month’s Influencers from Around the World article is the first guest post from Anthony McLean. Like myself and several of my guest bloggers, Anthony is a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT). In fact, he’s the only CMCT in Australia and he’s going to share with us how to best influence should you find yourself in Australia or dealing with an Aussie. I encourage you to connect with Anthony on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.Influencing in AustraliaAs a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer I often get asked what principles work best when influencing people from other countries. In joining Brian’s Influencers from Around the World I thought I would discuss the influence culture within Australia.Many of you may already know about Australia and our culture. Perhaps you know Aussies, have done business here or with Australians abroad, have visited our far away shores or watched Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) or Crocodile Dundee on the big or small screen.Internationally Australians have a varied reputation from being laid back and casual to being beer guzzling loudmouths. The actual fact is Australia, while only having a population of 23 million, is a rich multicultural tapestry. Apart from Indigenous Australians we are all immigrants, some more recent than others; therefore, in such a large and diverse country each principle still applies.Liking – we prefer to say YES to those we know and like.
In World War I and II, Australians found themselves standing side by side with like-minded countries including our close neighbours and friends, New Zealand. It was in the caldron of battle that the ANZAC tradition was forged. We fought together, came from a similar part of the world and had similar values, attitudes and beliefs. This attitude of standing by your mates is still strongly identified with today and like many siblings, Australia and New Zealand have a fierce but friendly rivalry.

Australians are very parochial, whether it is our sporting teams, our political parties, our choice of beer or even the city or suburb we come from. Identify with the things you have in common with an Australian and you are well on your way to making a connection. If you find an Aussie who is not a sports fan, commenting on the fanatical nature of sports fans and the delusional commitment to this activity will also generally strike a chord.Many Australians are willing to give new things a go. In order to create a relationship, look to the experiences or activities you can share with us and it will be this common interest and cooperation that is sure to succeed in building a relationship based on Liking. If all else fails simply make a joke at the expense of a New Zealander or try and say “G’day” and this will generally spark a smile if not raucous laughter.Reciprocity – we prefer to give back to those who have given to us firstAn integral part of Australian society is helping out your mates. While Australians and New Zealanders love to give each other a hard time, when the chips are down that spirit of camaraderie comes to the fore. No better example was seen than during the recent natural disasters in the Asian Pacific rim. Queensland experienced a near one-in-one hundred year flood, then within weeks the biggest cyclone to ever cross our shores hit North Queensland and not surprisingly the first offer of help came from New Zealand. When the earthquake hit Christchurch it was not a consideration of if we would help but how much help we would send. Similarly with the recent earthquake in Japan, Australian search and rescue crews were dispatched immediately to support the teams on the ground because they have done the same for us in the recent past.Reciprocity is a core element to all societies and it is no different in Australia.In the outback it is not uncommon for your nearest neighbour or town to be several hours away. If you were driving on a remote country road and someone needed a tow, or a spare part, or whatever, you would stop and lend a hand because you never know when it may be you who needs some help. If you want to build a relationship with an Australian, going first is the key. Whether it is a kind word in the train, a helping hand with tipping (as we are not very good at it) or buying the first beer; these simple gestures will often ensure you have a friend for life. If nothing else you know we will be there if and when you need us.Consensus – we look to those like us to guide our behaviour when we are uncertain
In the multicultural mix that is Australia we have found that collective Asian-based cultures are becoming a greater influence in our society and connectedness a greater part of our lives. We have people from all over the world flocking to enjoy our beaches, climate and lifestyle. When trying to influence an Australian in a situation where they are not sure of what to do, don’t miss the opportunity to show us what others like us are doing. Whether it is in a work or social setting, highlight what those who are most like us, i.e., those who live or work near us, have the same job, other supporters of our sporting teams, other members of our social or age group are doing in this situation. Show us this and we will be keen to join in.

By way of example in the recent Queensland floods, reports of tens of thousands of volunteers rushing into the streets to help their neighbours spawned even more volunteers to show up until the officials asked volunteers to stop coming as they couldn’t transport all the people to the affected areas.
Authority – when we are not sure of what we should do we look to those with knowledge and wisdom we do not possess.In Australia we suffer from the “tall poppy syndrome,” where those who rise from the bunch can tend to get unnecessarily cut down. It is unfortunate but true.That being said, we are attracted to those whose actions speak louder than their words. Often the person who tends to say the least is listened to when they speak and we even have affectionate names for them like “Rowdy” (i.e., a sarcastic play on the fact they don’t often make much of a fuss). So in demonstrating Authority to influence an Australian, do what you say you will, present yourself as a knowledgeable source that is willing to listen and this will gain our respect. Like others, we are guided by Authorities, but we will expect you to do more than turn up in a big car, tell us you are from a bigger more sophisticated town than ours and name drop.Those who are an Authority will quickly gain our respect; those who rely solely on their position of Authority may not have the same success.Consistency – we are compelled to live up to the commitments that we make.Australians love to exaggerate in telling a good story, so if you want us to live up to what we say, just make sure we aren’t joking when we say something. That notwithstanding, in a country as big and sparsely populated as ours those who fail to live up to what they say they’ll do are quickly identified and are not positively thought of. It is unusual to find people who take great pride in failing to live up to the things they say they will do – it flies in the face of standing by your mates. Therefore, if you want an Australian to follow through with something, align your requests or proposals with the things they already stand for and you will have little problem getting us to do what we say we will.Scarcity – we are motivated by those things that are rare or dwindling in availabilityEven though Australia is often referred to as the lucky country, we cannot stand to lose the things we need any more than someone from overseas can. In a broad brown land that is often plagued with drought we understand the importance of seizing the opportunity when it presents. Therefore, when influencing an Australian show us what we stand to lose and we will be motivated to act. As keen sports people, show us we are in competition with others for your services and we will certainly take notice.One last point — to influence an Australian remember that we don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously. So feel free to share a smile, a joke or a kind word. Tell us when you make a mistake and show us how we can fix it. Treat us with respect and you will always be welcome to come around for a barbeque.Finally, replace the word Australian with wherever you come from and you’ll see that we are not that different to you. The principles of persuasion work all over the world, but they are about influencing people not countries. With the global village getting smaller every day, do your research on the person you are trying to influence and once you find out what types of things they stand for don’t bungle the opportunity to improve both of your positions.Anthony McLean, CMCT


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