CHAPTER 1
Use your
common
sense: the
basics of
influence
W
e are all born with influencing skills. Babies can get
attention when they need it and toddlers are even
more influential, using charm and tantrums to get what
they want.
As we grow older, we add more layers to these innate
influencing skills, introducing such things as persuasion and
flirtation. Most of us are unaware that we are doing this it
comes naturally. Our education teaches us to use another pow-
erful influencing skill: reason. So, already, whether you know it
or not, you have some finely honed influencing skills that you
can work with.
In this chapter I want to focus on your innate influencing skills
and show you how you can use them to create a strong base for
the brilliant influencing skills that will follow.
The four things we all know about influence
By the time we leave school, we have learned four fundamental
things about how to influence the people around us: the “four
As of influence”.
Actions. “Actions speak louder than words” is a cliché
because it is true. We will look at what three actions speak
loudest and have the greatest positive impact on other
people.
6 brilliant influence
Attitudes. Our attitudes infect the people around us. I will
show you the three brilliant attitudes that send powerful
messages about who you are and why people should be
influenced by you.
Analysis. Being able to give compelling reasons is a crucial
part of being influential. I will show you how to prepare for
influence and a great technique for overcoming resistance
when you disagree with someone.
Approach. Early in life, we discover the three approaches
that we can take to get what we want from other people.
I call these “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. In the last
section of this chapter, I will offer you the choice.
Attitudes
Analysis Approach
Actions
Figure 1.1 The four As of influence
Use your common sense: the basics of influence 7
Actions
We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Three types of action consistently impress others and encourage
them to like, trust and respect you: courtesy, generosity and
follow-through. Let’s look at these one at a time.
Courtesy
Courtesy is a label for all those actions that both conform to
social norms and make other people feel that it is a pleasure to
be around you. Examples include letting people go first, holding
doors, helping with parcels, and saying “thank you”. These are
not difficult, but they say a lot about you. They also trigger one
of the most important influence responses, reciprocity: I am
grateful for what you have done for me, so I want to do some-
thing in return.
Think about some times when you did people favours; did they
thank you for it? An unacknowledged favour probably left you
wondering why you bothered; but on another occasion, when
you received proper thanks, you were probably pleased to have
been of help. Maybe you have noticed that, while a general
thank you is courteous, it has little impact, because it feels like
a reflexive response. You can create more impact by making
your “thank you” more specific. Try saying: “Thank you for
. . ..
Generosity
Generosity builds your influence in so many ways: showing you
have the resources to be generous, creating a sense of recip-
rocal obligation, and showing you are thoughtful, for example.

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