Influence isn’t about Size, Strength, or Endurance

Last Thursday, I posted an old podcast episode I’d recorded with Kwame Christian on his show, Negotiate Anything (the #1 negotiation podcast in the world!). He said something that became the inspiration for this article.

Friendship and Commonality

I’ve known Kwame for many years, and we’ve become good friends. Our friendship includes a passion for social psychology and influence. Kwame is always looking for ways to apply influence to help with conflict resolution and negotiations. My focus is more on the application in sales and leadership but nonetheless, it’s a common foundation.

Something else we have in common is writing. Kwame has authored several books and was kind enough to write the forward for my most recent book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness.

One more area of similarity is a passion for fitness. Kwame has known me for many years, so we talked about some athletic accomplishments.

Shortly after college, for several years, I competed in bodybuilding. Many years after I stopped competing, I decided to take up running. I ran half a dozen marathons, including Boston a couple of times. In order to spend time with my daughter Abigail, I got involved in taekwondo and eventually earned my second-degree black belt.

The Influence Connection

While none of those endeavors has to do with influence, Kwame made a connection during the podcast that inspired this post. Towards the end of the show, he said, “I think this is one of the most impressive things about Brian – we learned about his bodybuilding, his marathon running, and his taekwondo. So, we know he is stronger than most, he’s trained to hurt people, and if they try to run away, he could catch them. But instead, he tries to persuade people ethically. That’s impressive.”

According to one study I share during workshops; the wisest managers spend about 80% of their time trying to influence people. That’s because it works best over the long haul.

Influence isn’t about using force, coercion, intimidation, or manipulation. Those approaches may work in the short term but as soon as they are removed, nobody will do what you want. In fact, everything may boomerang back on you. Witness the upset customer who gets on social media to ruin an individual or company when they feel wronged. Or, at the very extreme, look at what the masses do to dictators and strongmen when their power is removed.

Influence is about communicating with people in a way that’s cognitively easier for them to understand what you’re asking or proposing, which increases the odds of a “Yes!” response. Tom Lucci, Owner of National Risk Management Services, an attendee at an event where I gave a keynote address, put it well when he said, “Brian came across as what I’d consider a guy who was not interested in selling you and invariably, he sold us.”

What are You Growing?

Personal and professional growth are talked about quite often in business so here’s something to ponder: What are you growing?

If you’re “old school” attempts to lead or sell use intimidation, coercion, or force, then you’re growing resistance and resentment in those you interact with.

However, if you’re treating people with respect, honestly communicating, and looking to create mutually beneficial outcomes, you’re planting seeds to continually grow your influence.

Because I practice what I preach, don’t worry about me using my strength, speed, or martial arts to get you to do something. I’d much rather use my mind because, while my physical skills may be on the decline, my influence skills are as sharp as ever.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, Brian was personally trained and endorsed by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to use influence at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

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