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Exercising Influence: A Guide for Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community, 3rd Edition by B. Kim Barnes

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Chapter 2What Is Influence, and Why Do We Want to Have It?The Upside and the Downside

All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do… Build, therefore, your own world.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Influence and Power

The word power is a noun that indicates ability, strength, and authority. Influence is most often used as a verb, meaning to sway or induce another to take action. (It can also be used as a noun, often interchangeably with power.) In this book, we'll consider power to be something you have and influence to be something you do. Electric power exists only as a potential source of light in your home or office until you flip a switch (or activate an app or a beam that does the switching). Likewise, your power exists only as potential until you activate it through the use of influence.

Many sources of power are available to you. Among them are

  • Formal authority associated with your role, job, or office
  • Referred or delegated power from a person or a group that you represent
  • Information, skill, or expertise
  • Reputation for achievements and ability to get things done
  • Relationships and mutual obligations
  • Moral authority, based on the respect and admiration of others for the way that you act on your principles
  • Personal power, based on self-confidence and commitment to an idea

Power may be used directly (for example, “You are going to bed now because I am your mother and I say so”) or indirectly, through others (for example, “Let Jack know in a subtle way that I would ...

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