Tag Archive for: Influencers from Around the World

Influencers from Around the World – The Principle Of Liking With Real Estate Agents

This month our “Influencers from Around the World” post comes from Marco Germani. Marco is a native of Italy and lives in Rome. A skilled practitioner of influence for decades, he even wrote a book on the subject in Italian. In this post he explains how the principle of liking can impact the sale.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.  

The Principle Of Liking With Real Estate Agents

The principle of influence popularly known as liking, as expressed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, states people are more likely to say “yes” to those they know and like and those they perceive as similar to themselves. I had a real-life test of the liking principle recently when my wife and I decided to buy a small apartment in a coastal town near Rome, our home in Italy. Our goal was to rent the apartment and generate some extra passive income.

I carefully researched the market and I got in touch with all the existing real estate agencies of the area, visiting almost 20 different properties, within the size and budget we defined, before settling on two particular apartments, the most appealing of the lot.

Next we had to make a decision – which to purchase followed by a formal written offer to the owner. Both apartments looked good, were in a nice area close to the railway station and shops, had better than average quality-price ratios, and both owners appeared to be particularly motivated to sell quickly. All things considered, for a few reasons we both liked apartment #1 slightly more than apartment #2. We were also dealing with two different real estate agents.

The agent dealing with apartment #1, whom I’ll call Mrs. Bianchi, was a middle-aged woman and owner of the real estate agency. From the beginning she didn’t appear to be very skillful or professional. When she sensed there was real interest from our side, she started to ruthlessly apply every selling technique straight out of a sales book:

  • She called me the following day telling me there was another very motivated buyer for the same apartment and we needed to hurry up with our proposal.
  • She gave me an inflated evaluation of the rent rate I could ask to the future tenant.
  • She tried to “close” us in several other ways, but without any particular skill in doing so.

We were interested in the apartment anyway, so her poor sales skills were not a problem for us. When I went to her office to negotiate her agency commission she become upset and acted surprised that I was asking for a reduction. She treated me like I had offended her. By keeping a straight face and with the technique of the “broken record,” simply asking over and over for my conditions regardless of her behavior, I was able to obtain a reasonable reduction on her requested fee and everything seemed to be right to make an offer at a price the apartment owner would have accepted.

The agent dealing with apartment #2 was a completely different story. Fabio, a salesperson working for the agency, was a skilled and trained professional and from the moment he first told me “hello” on the phone. I could clearly tell he was somebody who understood the basics of salesmanship and worked hard on his craft. From our first meeting he was focused on building a relationship with me:

  • He tried to find common ground and he told me about his passion for the Greek island of Santorini, after hearing I have been there twice on holiday and loved the place, where he even owns a small studio, advising me to consider buying one myself one day, even proposing to help for free.
  • He also told me, after noticing my interest for apartment #2, that there was another motivated buyer and I needed to hurry (a trick I guess must be on page one on the manual of the good sales agent in Italy!) but he did it in a sincere and elegant way, always positioning on my side and asking “for my help” in solving the problem when we needed to move forward in the discussion.

After some smooth negotiation, we ended up with the exact same conditions, buying price and agency fee, for the two apartments. We liked apartment #1 slightly better but we liked Fabio, the agent for apartment #2, a lot better. It was a difficult call and, to my surprise, my wife and I both felt better about moving on the apartment sold by Fabio, even though we liked apartment #1 more! We mentioned a bunch of rational justifications linked to the technical aspects of the business but we both knew it had all to do with the personality of Fabio and the principle of liking at work. This principle being so powerful to lead us to want a less appealing “product” because we liked the salesperson better!

The story does not end there. After defining a strategy with Fabio for the proposal, with a very low first offer which was meant to be turned down by the apartment owner (which he did) to then come up with our real offer, something else happened.

Fabio called us one evening telling us he had just received the mission to sell another property. Apartment #3, a real deal being sold by a “don’t-wanter” (someone with serious financial issues ongoing, who urgently needed money) was ready to sell a much better apartment than the one we decided to buy, for the same price. Everything was contingent on the money coming in fast and in cash, which was possible for us. We closed the deal quickly and everybody was happy, including Fabio, whom we decided to reward by accepting his request for a much higher fee than the one we agreed, one which still kept the deal very advantageous for us.

The moral of this story is twofold:

  1. Even though you are trained on the principles of influence and are aware of how the principle of liking could (and sometimes shouldn’t) influence your buying patterns, it will work all the same and you can find yourself buying a less appealing product sold by a salesperson you like more.
  2. For anybody involved in sales, neglecting to work on this principle, by learning to genuinely be interested in others, create empathy and build a relationship before talking about the deal, can be very expensive. In today’s economy nobody in real estate, or in any other business involving human interactions, can afford to ignore the principle of liking.

Besides, we might start investigating if any good property is available in Santorini someday, with the help of Fabio, of course!


Influencers from Around the World – The Impact of Liking on Voting and Other Relationships

This month our Influencers from Around the World guest post comes from Debbie Hixson, a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT®). She is a Senior Organization Development Consultant from Kaiser Permanente and a National Board Certified Counselor. You can read more about her here. I know you’ll enjoy what Debbie has to share.

The Impact of Liking on Voting and Other Relationships

How will you decide whom to support in this presidential election? Will your candidate share your views about the problems in this country and how to solve them? Do they share your values and beliefs? Do they have a similar background or have you shared similar experiences growing up and making your way in the world?

Some of us are very clear about who will we vote for and why. An article in my local newspaper interviewed several people and for them the answer is simple; their candidate shares their beliefs about what is important and what needs to be done to get our country back on track.  They aren’t from the same background, but they do share a common philosophy about life. Guided by their perceptions about the person they support, whom they will vote for in the general election is very clear.

What makes us gravitate towards some people and not others? Why do we form relationships so easily with some people and not others?  Why do we collaborate and cooperate with some people effortlessly, while with others it is a challenge? How can we be influential and persuasive with some groups or individuals and less so with others?

The answer is not complicated. It is based on a principle Dr. Robert Cialdini calls “Liking.” He says that we like people who are like us. Based on liking them, we will be more open to their requests to cooperate with them. Let’s be clear, liking is based on our perception of what we share in common with others that predisposes us to like them. Dr. Cialdini also says that we tend to like people who compliment us – that is they tell us what they like about us, which makes us like them even more.  We also like people who cooperate with us.

So how do you get people to like you? Norman Vincent Peale says that getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them. Think about someone you want to work with more closely. What do you know about them?  Do you share common interests? Did you attend the same school? Do you share a passion for the same sports team or the same hobbies?  You can foster liking based on the similarity principle if you claim to have a similar background and interests as the person.

The principle can be applied in all types of situations, at home and at work. Liking can be applied to family, friends, colleagues and customers. In my own practice as a coach and trainer, I need my clients to cooperate with me. I begin my relationships with clients by finding out a bit about them and then make a connection to own my interests and background to establish liking. I often find that I have many things in common with the people I meet. Establishing commonalities makes us all feel more relaxed and grounded particularly in new situations. Once I establish a connection, it is important for my work to like the other person. When I like someone, I tell them so. After all, if we like to cooperate with people who like us, letting them know helps facilitate your partnership.

Cooperating with others will also help establish liking. When we share goals in common, we develop a fondness for “our partners” who are helping us achieve a goal, deal with problems, make a decision, etc.  So whom can you cooperate with? When you have something to ask of them, they will be more likely to say yes, because you cooperated with them.

Dr. Cialdini advises us to like our colleagues, customers or clients. When they see that you like them, they feel safe. They’ll have a good reason to feel safe because you will make sure that the people you like are treated well. You’ll make sure that they’re protected and their interests are served. This is really turning that rule on its ear where clients are saying, “The best place for me to purchase a product is not in the hands of someone I like who’s an expert, it’s in the hands of someone who likes me and is an expert.”

Think about ways you can increase liking by identifying commonalities you have with people you work with – or would like to work with – and make sure they know. And, when you like them make sure to share that as well.

Debbie Hixson,
M.A., M.Ed, CMCT

Influencers from Around the World – Paradox of “The Bridge of Life”

Hoh Kim has been a guest blogger for Influence PEOPLE since I began the Influencers from Around the World series more than five years ago. I met Hoh when we went through the Cialdini certification training together. At the time Hoh had his MA but it’s with great pleasure I can now say Hoh now has his doctorate, as well! Hoh received his Ph.D. in

Culture Technology from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; his dissertation title was “Psychological and neural influences of public apology on audience responses in corporate crisis situations.” I know you’ll enjoy his post on the paradox of “the bridge of life.”

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


Paradox of “The Bridge of Life”

On September 1, 2015, Seoul city metropolitan government announced that they would discontinue “The Bridge of Life” which was established in August 2012 by cooperation between Seoul city metropolitan government and Samsung Life Insurance. Cheil Communication, the largest advertising agency in Korea, a subsidiary firm of Samsung Group, developed the idea. The idea and project received positive spotlights from both local and international media. “The bridge of life” received more than 30 international awards including Titanium Lion winner at Cannes Lions and Clio Awards in 2013.

What is the bridge of life? It is an interactive storytelling bridge and as you walk across the bridge, the bridge talks to you. Click here to watch a short video.

For your information, Korea has unfortunately been the number one country among OECD (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in terms of the number of suicides for more than a decade.

Mapo Bridge is one of the 31 bridges crossing Han River in Seoul, and it has a notorious nickname — “the bridge for suicide” — as more people tried suicide on this bridge than any other in Seoul. That’s why city government made the bridge of life. What were the results? In 2012, 15 people “tried” suicide on the Mapo Bridge. Then, “the bridge of life” was established. Surprisingly 93 people “tried” suicide on the bridge. There is an argument. In 2012, 60% of the people who “tried” suicide on the Mapo Bridge were saved, but in 2013, 94.6% (85 out of 93) was saved from the suicide attempts. In 2014, 184 people “tried” suicide on the bridge (I don’t have the number of people who survived in that year). Regardless, the survival rate, it was clear that many more people tried suicide in “the bridge of life.”

What was the problem? A possible explanation can come from “side effects” of social proof principle. When Dr. Cialdini explained the principle of social proof – i.e., people follow the lead of many/similar others – he warned to be careful not to use it with negative information. Even though I have lived in Seoul for more than 40 years, I came to know the fact that more people tried suicide on the Mapo Bridge than any other bridge in Seoul through the “Bridge of Life” campaign. I think the side effect of social proof influenced the surge of suicide trials on the bridge. However, to be honest, when I first heard about the campaign around 2013 from TV News, I thought the idea of the bridge was fascinating, and could not predict the side effect of the social proof principle.

What are the lessons out of it? Two things. First, when we design a campaign, we have to look at closely at whether there are any side effects of the campaign. How can we do that? The “red team” from the American soap opera “Newsroom” might help. Red team is a sort of Devil’s advocate. Red team intentionally attacks an idea so that we can cross check whether there is any downside of a project.

Second, the Bridge of Life project was a persuasion project where the campaign tried to influence to reduce actual suicide and suicide attempts. When there is any persuasion project, the best reference would be six principles of influence by Dr. Cialdini as he reviewed influence psychology of more than 60 years and found six universal principles.

By applying and checking against the principles, you can create a better persuasion campaign and avoid any pitfall of the campaign. When I first heard about the Bridge of Life, I should have carefully thought about the campaign against the principles, both their applications and side effects.

Hoh Kim, Ph.D.
Founder, Head Coach & Lead
Facilitator, THE LAB h
E-mail: hoh.kim@thelabh.com
Home: www.THELABh.com


Influencers from Around the World – Italians and the Principle of Liking

Marco Germani is our guest blogger for this month’s “Influencers from Around the World” post. Marco lives in Italy, just outside of Rome. He’s not only been a guest blogger in the past, he wrote a book on influence in Italian. Marco is married and has two young boys. He gets real world influence application in his various business pursuits. Readers have always enjoyed Marco’s perspective on influence and I’m sure that will be the case this month.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Italians and the Principle of Liking

I recently read about a survey conducted by Citibank, a corporation with employees across the globe. The object was to identify how the different persuasion principles would apply to different cultures around the world. The question asked of employees was: If someone within your organization came to ask you for help on a project, and this project would take you away from your own duties, under what circumstances you would be mostly obligated to help?

The results displayed that in the U.S., the principle mostly taken into account to answer this question was reciprocity. What has this person done for me? Do I feel obliged to render him a favor? That would determine whether the help is granted or not.

In Hong Kong, the most important principle was authority: is this person connected to my small group and in particular, is he a senior member of this group?

In Germany, authority was considered but under a different light: according to the rules and regulations, am I supposed to say yes? In this case, I am obliged.

Finally, in Italy, yet another persuasion principle was mainly taken into account: the one of liking. Is this person connected to my friends? I am loyal to my friends so, therefore, I must help him or her.

Being an Italian I can confirm this is true most of the time. I then started to think about the reason this principle is so important for Italians and I came up with my own theory. It goes back to my country’s history. Contrary to what happened in other European countries, like

France and Germany, Italy started to exist as a single centralized unit only quite recently (250 years ago, which for Europe is a really short time). For thousands of years, the regions eventually forming Italy existed as isolated kingdoms (Kingdom of Naples, Kingdom of the two Sicilies, etc.) and often fought bitterly against each other.

When Italy became a nation it was hard, for a central government, back then based in Piedmont in northern Italy, to maintain control while being politically and physically present in the whole country.

This was especially true in southern regions like Calabria or Sicilia. The formation of small clans of people, which eventually led to the creation of the most (unfortunately) famous criminal organization in the world, the Mafia, became a necessity of survival.

Where the hand of the government couldn’t reach, there you had a small group of “friends” ready to kill for each other in order to keep order and peace and fight against the “bad guys.” If you wanted protection, you must become their friend too. If not, bad things could happen to you. Assuming this theory has some part of truth, it must be eradicated in our DNA a sense of loyalty to our group of friends, not anymore for survival, but to have some kind of advantage in our daily lives, according also to the principle of reciprocity.

This can be observed also when two or more Italians meet abroad. We tend to establish as soon as possible a sort of connection, because we know that we could, as a small team (or clan) be more effective in overcoming problems and finding solutions. Of course this happens without any criminal or illegal intention nowadays. On the other hand, in a business setting, this is a universal rule, which transcends cultures: always try to build a relationship with your customer or business partner before talking shop. With us Italians, it is even more important and it is an aspect which should never be underestimated by any serious negotiator or influencer.



Influencers from Around the World – The Power of Influential Questions

I met Dan Norris in August 2004 when I attended the Principles of Persuasion Workshop®. Dan was the workshop facilitator and did a terrific job. He’s been a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer, one of less than two-dozen worldwide, for 15 years. In addition to being a CMCT®Dan has been the Director of Training for HOLT CAT since 2003. I invited him to contribute to Influence PEOPLE because of his vast knowledge of ethical influence. I know you’ll enjoy his writing and learn a lot from his post. If you’d like to connect with Dan reach out to him on LinkedInor Twitter.

The Power of Influential Questions
I can admit it freely now:  I’m a notorious eavesdropper.  Whether at an airport, grocery store, or restaurant, I delight in listening to the discussions of others.  I try to soak up every juicy detail, every interpersonal conflict, and every persuasive pitch that reaches my ears.  It’s amazing what people will actually discuss in public—topics ranging from the mundane to the downright absurd.  I like to believe I’m a student of human behavior, but the truth is, I’m just really nosey.

Over time, I learned more than just the latest gossip:  I realized people spent the majority of their time “telling” others what they thought and very little time asking questions.  In many cases, we spend enormous amounts of energy arguing points others already agree with.  We are just too busy “telling” to listen to what others have to say.

I reflected on myself. Was I any different?  (Spoiler alert: Nope.) I thought about all the times I belted out what I thought I needed to say.  I’d deceive myself and say “I’m just telling you how it is,” oblivious to others needs or perspective. Looking back, it took me significantly longer to get things done when I would “cut to the chase” and tell.  All too often, I felt I had to rehash issues several times before they were finally resolved.

Of course, I used to think others were slow or didn’t “get it.”  The truth is that I was the slow one.  My lack of questions and assumptions made it exceptionally difficult for me to hear what others were saying—and modify my behavior accordingly.

After this realization, I read every book I could find on questioning and communication.  I attended seminar after seminar on the subject. I also spent mentored with people who asked great questions (I’m looking at you, Larry Mills!).  It made a tremendous difference in my life—especially in terms of how I influenced others.

One memorable example of how questioning changed my influence approach came while coaching an employee named Harvey. At the time I was the new director of training at a large equipment dealership. It was common for me to spend time coaching others to reach their developmental goals.

However, this situation was different.  The supervisor shared with me the person frequently made disparaging remarks about his co-workers, and appeared to have a very “negative attitude.”  At the end of describing the employee’s behaviors, the manager leaned forward and curtly shared that “This is his last shot.  I’ve told him A THOUSAND TIMES that he needs to change and he hasn’t.  If you can’t help him, he’s out.”

I gave the meeting a lot of thought.  In the past, I would use the same template that many others use—tell the employee they have a problem, tell them what the problem is, and tell them what will happen if the problem isn’t resolved.  They would reluctantly agree to the findings of the meeting and leave. Sometimes they changed…sometimes they didn’t.

Then it hit me—his supervisor probably “told” him 999 times too many.  Despite failing each time, his supervisor continued to use the ineffective approach of “telling.”  I’m sure it lead Harvey to be as frustrated as his supervisor.

I decided to use questions in this coaching session to change the direction and try to salvage the working relationships.  To avoid falling back on my “telling” habits, I made a list of all the things I could gain by asking questions:

Questions reveal information I don’t already know.

“Telling” only shares information I’m familiar with…it doesn’t reveal how others are feeling, their perspective, or provide opportunities to influence.  Questions help me better listen to the needs, interests, and positions of others.

Questions influence others to make commitments.

When I ask questions of others, they make commitments about what they feel and believe.  If I say what needs to happen, others can doubt me. If I get others to tell me what needs to happen, they feel more committed to the solution.  Dr. Robert Cialdini’s landmark book Influence: Science and Practicecalls this the Principle of Consistency.

Questions involve others in the conversation

Telling pushes people away. Questions invite others into the discussion.  People want to express themselves and be heard.  They are more likely to listen to me if I listen to them first.

Questions influence people to reframe how they view the situation.

Questions are highly persuasive.  They are excellent ways to ethically influence others to experience private, inner changes about how they view a situation.  Another take away from Dr. Cialdini’s work.

I reflected on these four reminders.  “That makes sense,” I thought.  “Now how the hell do I use it?”  Channeling sage advice from a dear mentor, I resolved to write down several questions ahead of our conversation to prepare.

When the time came, Harvey sat down sheepishly in my office.  I could see in his eyes that he expected another didactic lecture about his behavior. After offering him some water, I pulled up a chair next to him.

“Thanks for meeting with me, Harvey. Before we get started, would you mind if I asked you some questions?”

“Sure,” said Harvey in a skeptical tone.

“How clear do you think I am about what happens in your department on a daily basis?”

Harvey tilted his head and appeared surprised by the question.  “I suppose you don’t know a lot about what goes on directly…probably only what you’ve heard.”

“I’d certainly agree with that,” I said.  “What role do you see me playing in our company?”

Harvey thought some more. “Well, you’re the training guy.  I guess you’re responsible for helping people grow and get better.”

“You’re right,” I replied. “I work with people at all levels of the company on their performance.  Since you and I don’t work closely together, I want to make sure I have some clarity about your goals before we move forward.  I wouldn’t want to make any recommendations without understanding your plans for growth.  How does that work for you?”

“Makes sense,” he replied. His body language became more relaxed. His shoulders dropped, and he became more comfortable in his chair.

“Great,” I said.  “Now I hope you stay with us for your whole career. Whether you work for the company for five, 10, or even the next 30 years—what do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be known?”

Harvey paused in thought for a moment.  “Nobody’s ever asked me that.  I guess I would like to be the ‘go to’ person.  I’d like to be the person that others would trust coaching new employees or handling difficult tasks.  I want to be the person that is a ‘slam dunk’ for the next promotion.”

“I’m sure you have the talent to do so,” I replied.  “That said, I’d like to ask you another question:  When you use disparaging and negative language about others, how does that match the vision you just described?”

He paused as his eyes widened. “I never thought about it like that. I guess it doesn’t.”

“You’re right,” I acknowledged.  “How does that behavior position you as the next best leadership candidate?”

He began shaking his head. “Well, I guess it doesn’t make me a strong candidate.  I never thought of it that way.  I was just trying to be funny—I didn’t mean to upset anyone.”

It was clear that Harvey was beginning to see things differently.  “The past is the past, Harvey.  We all make mistakes or send messages to others that we don’t intend. Going forward, what are some things you might do to change your behavior?”

Harvey began discussing ideas that he could change.  His entire demeanor changed.  He became energized and focused.  He wanted to make the changes.  He wanted to fit the vision he had for himself.  We talked for some time as he created an action plan for himself.

I had one final question before we ended our meeting. “I know that you’re the type of person that can make changes like this happen.  There is no doubt your capable of rebranding yourself.  However, I think it’s important to reflect on what may happen if you choose not to change.  If you don’t go through with these changes, what the consequences would you expect?”

Harvey sat back in his chair thinking.  “Well,” he thought, “I imagine I’d be up for disciplinary action.  I’d expect to be written up.”

I was floored—his honesty was as surprising as it was refreshing.  I committed to support and coach him.  He was energized and ready to work on his relationships with others.  I called his supervisor to fill him in on our discussion. He was dumfounded.  He couldn’t believe Harvey was receptive.  He laughed and said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Harvey did change —dramatically.  He took ownership for his behavior and worked very hard to repair the relationships he had with others.  Harvey had no idea how his behavior affected others.  True to his vision, he now leads others and is a sought after coach.

Dr. Cialdini’s Principle of Consistency—influencing others to make a choice or take a stand on an issue—was the primary reason Harvey changed his behavior.  Questions revealed new information, involved Harvey in the conversation, influenced him to make commitments, and reframed how we all saw the situation.  It ethically changed the way we viewed the situation and provided a win-win for everyone involved.

I’m sure you have a “Harvey” in your life.  What questions are you asking them?

Dan Norris, CMCT®


Dan Norris, CMCT®

Influencers from Around the World – “Tiny Habits” and Principle of Consistency

The April “Influencers from Around the World”
post comes to us from Seoul, South Korea, thanks to my good friend Hoh Kim. Hoh
and I earned our Cialdini Method Certified Trainer® designations together in
2008. Hoh is an incredibly intelligent individual and an expert when it comes to
ethical influence. I encourage you to check out his website, The
Lab h
and his blog, Cool Communications. Hoh is also on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter so reach out to connect with him.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

“Tiny Habits” and Principle of Consistency
Many of you may have heard about a recent
bestseller, The small Big, by Steve
Martin, Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini. I recently co-translated this book
into Korean language and it is now in Korean bookstores too. Big differences
influencing others can come about from small changes. The “small big” principle
also applies when I want to create a new habit. Recently, I participated in a
program called “Tiny Habits for Work” by Liz Guthridge. Liz uses “tiny
habit” methods created by Dr. B.J. Fogg. The program was interesting and
quite useful. Let me introduce what I learned from the program about “tiny
habits” as it may be quite useful for you too.
When a new year starts, we normally think
about creating a new habit such as to stop smoking, eat less, exercise more,
read more, etc. Normally, in the first week of January, our motivation to try
new things is quite high, but then doesn’t last long. Probably, by the end of
January, we return to “normal state.” Motivation is not reliable, and you
should not try things based solely on your motivation. So what we have to try are
“tiny habits.” According to the handout of the program, tiny habit
can be defined as follows: 1) you do at least once a day; 2) that takes you
less than 30 seconds; 3) that requires little effort.
Then, there is a recipe for tiny habits. You
need to combine “anchor” behavior (which you already established and do every
day) and new “tiny habits.” Liz recommended I come up with three tiny habits,
and here they are:
— AFTER my feet touch the floor, I will state
my one big intention for the day.
— AFTER I hang up the phone, I will take
three deep breaths.
— AFTER I lay down at night, I will think of
one thing about work for which I’m grateful.
Do you get the idea? You link new “tiny habits”
to behaviors you naturally do every day. Some of the other examples given were,
“After I get in the car, I will think of one thing I can do differently and
better at work today” and “After I walk through the office door, I will smile
at the first person I see.”
Among the three tiny habits, the second tiny
habit didn’t work well. I kept forgetting it. So, Liz shared an explanation with
me. As I would take too many calls, it might be hard to do every time. That being
the case, we looked to see if I could change to something I do once a day such
as “AFTER I return to office from a lunch time…”
While participating in this program, I thought
about the principle of consistency. When influencing
others, it often is useful to leverage small commitment. The tiny habit method
is also in line with the “foot-in-the-door” technique. You start small (tiny
habit), and if you can do the tiny habit continuously then you can move to a
bigger habit.
We are already into April so perhaps it is
good time to reflect our New Year’s resolutions. If there’s something that didn’t
work out as planned, perhaps you might be interested in trying the tiny habit.
By the way, among the six principles of influence, the principle of consistency
has an important difference from other five principles. It is about
Hoh Kim
Founder, Head Coach & Lead Facilitator,
Address: THE LAB h, 15F. Kyobo Bldg. Jongno 1,
Jongno, Seoul 110-714, Korea
E-mail: hoh.kim@thelabh.com
Phone: 82-2-2010-8828


Influencers from Around the World – Consensus + Scarcity = FAIL!

This month, our Influencers from
Around the World guest post comes from Anthony McLean, a long-time contributor
to Influence PEOPLE. Anthony is Australia’s one and only Cialdini Method Certified
Trainer (CMCT®). He started the Social Consulting Group where he teaches people and
organizations the principles of influence. 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”.

Consensus + Scarcity = FAIL
Recently I have noticed a very
interesting phenomenon. Consensus is failing to have the impact it is intended
to have. In our time,  the cues to guide
our behaviour are more prevalent and appreciated than ever before. For example,
when I land on an online shopping page, the reviews, ratings, and testimonials
provide me with vitally important information such as others like me have been
here before; this vendor can be trusted; the products are as they are
described; and so on.  In the traditional
sense it is these cues that help me overcome my uncertainty and help me make a
Therefore when I am not sure of
what I should do, I look to the actions of others; especially in unknown and
untested situations. And not just any others, I look to those most like me to
guide my behaviour. 
Rest assured my friends, Consensus
is truly a principle that, when used well, saves time, promotes sales, and
builds communities. It’s a cracker (Australian for really good, awesome, etc.)!
What then, I hear you say, does
the title of this post mean? Let me tell you, but first let me pose a mystery.
Why would a leading publically listed company make a wrongheaded decision and
turn away from the actions of others?
In the delivery of the Principles
of Persuasion Workshops, my keynotes and in my consulting and coaching, I
continually stress to my audience that not all testimonials are same. We know
that by distilling the testimonial data, drilling into the case studies, and
sharing what people most like you are doing now or have done in the past, will
have a great impact on your “persuadee’s” behaviour.
However, recently I have been
working in a space in which the products on offer between companies are very
similar. Many industries have been through a phase in which they have competed
on price. However to cut prices they must cut margin and then services and
ultimately their perceived value. Those industries then got to a point where
price was no longer a determining factor. While they could have continued to
compete on price, at some point there needed to be platform based on value, relationships,
and/or loyalty. The change had to come because buying customers through discounts
was bringing about the wrong type of relationship, where every dollar was held
tightly. Dishonesty between provider and customer was rife because of the
perception that every dollar mattered and after all it was just a transactional
relationship; those who got or saved the most money won!
It is at this point a nuance of
Consensus kicks in; the suppliers are all in the same industry, they offer
similar products, they compete for the same customers, staff and leaders, but
they do not see themselves as the same as each other. How do I know? 
If you present to an organization
evidence of what others in the industry are doing, rather than move toward your
ideas, they immediately repel, back away and dismiss what others in their
industry are doing. Showing them what many others in their industry are doing,
creates a drive in initiative to be different and cut a new path, one less
travelled, in an effort to attract disgruntled and disenfranchised customers
looking to leave their current provider in search of something better. The
competition is so great in this industry that the drive to be unique, to be
something truly valuable, outweighs the power of Consensus.
Now I am not saying Consensus will
not work in this industry – quite the contrary. However, , Consensus can fail to
influence behaviour because of Scarcity – if the competition is doing it we
must do something different and  be seen
as unique. We must have a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and can’t be
the same because then the consumer will not be able to tell us apart. 
In this instance Scarcity was
trumping Consensus.
So what are you to do? Firstly
don’t get caught up in labels and demographics. Just because Company A and
Company B are in the same industry they may not see themselves as the same. Therefore
ask the decision makers you are seeking to influence about their values, their
vision and whom they think across the business world is most like them.  Then start to research, dig into those
companies that your persuadee sees themselves like and show them what those
companies are doing in similar situations. 
Therefore why did a publically
listed company turn away from the crowd and make a decision that seemed at odds
with their industry? Because they did not see themselves as the same as others
in their industry. They were different. They were unique. They were
competitors. Therefore they would do things differently, cut new directions and
be innovative – they wanted to be Apple. So we showed them what Apple did and
low and behold they sat up and took notice. 
By the way they were not in the
same league as Apple but it didn’t matter – in their eyes – they were, so
that’s what we showed them to change their thinking.

Anthony McLean, CMCT®

Influencers from Around the World – Three Lessons from Arnold

This month our “Influencers from Around the
World” post comes from Marco Germani. Marco is a native of Italy, originally
hailing from Rome. He’s been a fan of influence for decades and wrote a book on
the subject in Italian. The father of two youngsters, he now gets to apply his
influence skills outside of his business pursuits. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his
post on lessons he’s learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Three Lessons from Arnold
I have recently given a second go at the
spectacular Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography, Total Recall – The Truly Unbelievable Story of My Life, which
didn’t fail to impress and inspire me, as it already did last year when I first
read it. You may or may not  like the man,
but it is undeniable that what Arnold has accomplished in his life thus far is
nothing short of incredible. Arnold was a legendary bodybuilding champion, a
record-breaking Hollywood action movie actor, and an accomplished real-estate
investor who made his first million from this business. If all that wasn’t
enough, he was also the “Governator” of California.
I thought Arnold’s story would fit well in
this blog because in order to accomplish all that he has, Arnold had to develop
the capacity to influence millions of people.
I’ll try to extrapolate a short, actionable
lesson from each phase of his career, which enabled him to accomplish such
extraordinary things and maybe each of us will become a better influencer
because of it.
1: Focus on your strength
Since he was a teen, Arnold had a clear vision
in his mind: Go to the USA and become famous. He had no idea how to accomplish
this, not even the field of endeavor. He then started his quest, his search for
his unique talent, which would bring him fame and fortune.  As he realized that nature had gifted him
with a body built to grow and become incredibly muscular, he put all of his
heart and soul into a single project; becoming the most muscular man on earth
and winning all the existing body building competitions around the world. It
didn’t matter if it meant endless hours in the gym lifting huge weights, it
didn’t even matter if sometimes it meant fainting or vomiting in the gym out of
All that counted was getting to the top. And
he made it! Not only that; he set new standards for his sport and made bodybuilding
famous to around the world, becoming the international ambassador for the
He worked on the mental aspect of competition
(the “Pumping Iron” documentary is a great testimonial of this), he even went
to ballet classes to perfect his posing; in other words, he did whatever it
took to become outstanding and make his dream come true. Thanks to bodybuilding,
Arnold finally got to the USA. He was penniless, with no other skills under his
belt, but ready to pursue his second lifetime goal: to make it big in Hollywood.
2: Persistence in spite of obstacles
When Arnold, already a celebrity in the bodybuilding
circuit and on his way to financial independence thanks to real estate
investments in Santa Monica, started to pursue his acting career he had all the
odds against him. He spoke English with a thick Austrian accent, he had below
average acting skills, no particular artistic talent and he was even told his
name was too long to fit on movie posters! Thanks to his body, he managed to
get a part in a B-movie called “Hercules” in New York where he first had to be
dubbed due to poor English pronunciation. The movie itself was never released
due to production financial issues but is now a cult movie because of Arnold’s
In spite of this, he did not get discouraged,
he kept the vision clear, he simply ignored everybody else around him advising
him to open a gym and to let go this impossible dream to become a world-famous
actor. He patiently waited several years, turning down dozens of parts, even as
a leading actor, in movies which would have not benefited his career in the
long run. His big movie break was “Conan the Barbarian.” Arnold knew this movie
would be a game-changer and, once again, he put his heart and soul in
preparation for this part, taking care of every single detail. In the first
scene of the movie, he was actually bitten by a real wolf and had to have a
dozen stiches on his leg, but this didn’t discourage him a bit to give his best
and make this movie into a cult classic, which he did.
The rest is history. Conan brought Arnold into
the firmament and just a few years later, with movies like “The Terminator,” “Total
Recall” and “True Lies,” he was paid as much as $25 million per movie, becoming
the highest paid action movie star in Hollywood…as he originally planned.
3: Expand your expertise
After becoming a Hollywood superstar Arnold
was ready for a new challenge and decide to enter politics. Though married to a
Kennedy family member, Maria Shriver, he was never afraid to express his liking
for the Republican Party. He got close to the Bush family and openly supported
them. When he saw the opportunity to run for governor of California, he
understood he had to massively expand his knowledge and expertise in order to
become credible and have a serious chance to win.
Almost anyone who spent his life in body
building and acting probably would have be intimidated by the massive amount of
information, in many different subjects an aspirant governor must assimilate.
That was not the case for Arnold. He established the “Arnold University” instead.
He gathered notable experts in each of the fields he needed to learn such as
economic, public health, the environment, etc. He worked long hours taking
notes and learning everything he needed to learn. When it was time to debate on
national television with seasoned and shrewd politicians, ready to attack his
weak points with no mercy, he used humor as his best defense, having a set of
punch lines written by professional comedy authors and memorized in endless
preparation sessions. His motto was, “It is just reps, reps, reps,” in
bodybuilding and in life. That is what made a farm boy from a small village in
Austria the Governor of the richest state of America.
Of course Arnold had his lows as well – like
his divorce from Maria due to a secret child he had with an housekeeper 20 years
ago or admitting using steroids in his competition days – but he was not afraid
to expose these in either of his books. However, his life remains a shining
example of what a human being is capable of, when ready to pay the price.
Arnold was able to touch many lives and influence many people along the way, for
which he deserves, in my opinion, the highest recognition as a master influencer!
And who knows what he will accomplish more in the next 20 years…


Influencers from Around the World – Beware of the Bogus Authority

To kick off the New Year, our Influencers from
Around the World series starts with Sean Patrick. Sean is originally from Dublin,
Ireland, but now resides in London where he works in sales and sales management.
You can connect with Sean on LinkedIn or Twitter. Sean also owns a sales training and coaching
company, SPT (Sean Patrick Training), Ltd. Always thought provoking, I know
you’ll enjoy Sean’s point of view on “authorities” and their content.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Beware of the Bogus Authority
I’ve just finished a well-written book by
Georgia attorney Loren Collins called Bullspotting.
It was a nice segue from another brilliantly written piece by Massimo Pigliucci
called Nonsense on Stilts. As you can
probably tell, the book attacks the nonsensical logic behind some of today’s content
that craftily bypasses the critical filters of its followers, making absurd
claims believable. 
Ironically, the author himself was a proponent
and follower of such people who disseminated misinformation. This got me
thinking about how dangerous it is when we open up to pseudo-authority. This
isn’t just a phenomenon that exists on the fringes; it is everywhere.
In business, we have the same problem but not quite
to the same extreme. Misinformation is like a mind virus that quickly infects
those who really need information to back up their status quo. We’re living in
a time where content is everywhere; it’s like drinking from a fire hose. What
kind of misinformation am I referring to? Half-truths mainly, or tactics that
worked for the author on one very lucky occasion but are now claimed as a
There’s also the other kind, the kind where we
think we know about a subject because we read one article or in some cases, the
first couple of paragraphs.  Our ability
to contaminate information further has to be taken in context. Our ability to
recall accurately goes through a process of bending, shaping, remodeling until
we think our warped view is exactly how we saw it. And bogus authority figures
really know this sharing of half-truths is immensely powerful, so we can dot
the lines ourselves as part of the journey to finally agree with the author’s
In business a client base is like a portfolio
of investments and treating them as such will create long term of value and
recurring revenue. Our job as salespeople is to go deep and create ongoing
change and help clients solve their next problem, and the next and so on. We
strive to drive results with practical solutions and provide serious impact
continually on the relationship. 
Great sales people earn higher fees via
commissions because of their ability to create huge impact and provide value. One
of the key areas in providing value is overcoming the hurdle of misinformation
that clients buy into. As I noted above, most people who consume so much
information on a daily basis fail to employ quality control.  
Over the years as a coach, one of the misdemeanors
that some of my clients were guilty of was dining out on so-called
authoritative content on sales topics and stuff that overlapped into self-development.
What the information consisted of mainly was of brain candy quality. 
The kind of content I’m referring to is the
stuff that isn’t earth shattering (but is marketed as so) and if you sat and
thought long enough you’d probably have come to those conclusions without any
help from the author…and you would have dismissed them!
As people who sell, own a business, or provide
professional services, it’s up to us to engage the client in a way in which we
become the authority and the go-to-favorite of the client. We can achieve this
by proving concept, demonstrating value, helping a client take ownership of a
problem by providing deep insightful information that is contextually relevant
to their most pressing problems.
Focusing on conversations that move things
forward are essential in setting boundaries and prove to the client that we
have a proprietary approach in getting grounded and having more clarity in
aligning themselves with their key priorities.
In this age of content creation and re-creation,
we are deluged by pure nonsense most of the time or at the very least someone’s
biased, one-sided view on matters. This is dangerous if we fail to act
objectively. Thanks to the internet, everyone is now an “expert” and we sit
there in a glassy eyed daze agreeing with what’s being presented to us, largely
because it passes through our filters — 
but only if we let it.

Sean Patrick

Influencers from Around the World – One Great Question to Ask: Lessons from Marshall Goldsmith and Patrick Lencioni

This month the “Influencers from Around the
World” post comes all the way from South Korea thanks to Hoh Kim. Hoh and I met
in Arizona early 2008 when we went through training together to earn our Cialdini
Method Certified Trainer designations. To learn more about Hoh visit his
website, The Lab h, and his blog, Cool Communications. You can also find Hoh on
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
One Great Question to Ask: Lessons from 
Goldsmith and Patrick Lencioni
How you communicate your weaknesses can define
whether you’re trustworthy or not, according to Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the
world’s foremost expert on the science of influence. Without trustworthiness,
we cannot have true authority in the eyes of others. Many leadership experts
also express a similar concept.
Everyone talks about the importance of trust.
But, do we know how to act to build trust as a leader? Patrick Lencioni, the
author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,
shared some excellent insight. According to Lencioni, when we use the word
“trust,” it normally means “predictable trust.” For example; I know one of my
team members will do a good job, as she or he has been a good performer in the
past. However, Lencioni suggested that leaders should practice what he called
“vulnerability-based trust.” Leaders cannot be strong in every aspect, which
means they also have weaknesses. Leaders should first know what their
weaknesses are, and they should feel comfortable disclosing them to their team.
Leaders shouldn’t be defensive. Instead Lencioni wrote, “In essence, teammates
must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.”
Everyone talks about the importance of
feedback in developing people. However, Marshall Goldsmith, one of the noted
experts in leadership development, emphasized the importance of “feedforward.”
Feedback is about your behavior in the past and feedforward is about suggestions
for the future behavior. Feedback is in the rear view mirror, while feedforward
is looking into the windshield. To drive your car you have to pay attention to
windshield, what lay ahead, not the rear view mirror, which only shows what is
We all have areas of improvement in our
workplace. If you could choose one area for improvement over the next year,
what will it be? Better listening? Faster decision-making? Better emotional
management? Whatever it is, acknowledge your weaknesses to your team members.
You won’t be seen as a loser. If you stay in your weaknesses you might be
viewed as a loser but when you acknowledge a weakness candidly, and ask for feedforward
from your members and colleagues, you will be seen as a more trustworthy
When you acknowledge weaknesses and ask for feedforward
you make a public commitment to improve. By utilizing the principle of consistency, one of the Dr. Cialdini’s six principles of influence, you will
have a better chance to actually experiencing progress.
How do you ask for feedforward? Take the
Marshall Goldsmith’s advice and simply say, “I want to be better at (listening,
for example). How can I be a better listener?” If your colleagues suggest
something, don’t defend yourself, just respond with a sincere, “Thank you.”
As we approach the end of 2014, it is a good
idea to practice feedforward with you wife, husband, or significant others. Do
you want to be a better spouse? Let me share one of my secrets to be a better spouse.
Once a year I ask to my wife, “Honey, how can I be a better husband? What can I
do better to be a better husband?” So far, my wife has never asked me to buy her
things like a diamond ring or luxury clothing or high-end handbags. She just
loves to be asked.
Hoh Kim, CMCT® 
Founder, Head Coach & Lead Facilitator,