Maximizing Your Personal Influence: Tools for Positive Persuasion and Inspiration

Uncategorized Oct 12, 2020

All of us have situations in which we would like to increase our ability to positively influence and inspire others.  This post reviews practical highlights from some recent research by behavioral science researcher Jonah Berger, as well as Bain and Company that you can apply to step up your skills to be persuasive and inspiring. 

And as you seek to build your skills for engaging positively with others, it is so important to remember being truly present with others also means opening yourself up to being influenced by them.   Sometimes the most important thing you can do as a force for good, whether out in the world or with your own friends and family is to step back from your certainty that you just need to get everyone else on board with your plan and genuinely tune into how you can allow others to influence your own perspective. 

Jonah Berger's 5 Keys to Persuasion

With this in mind, here's a summary of Jonah Berger's 5 ways to  remove barriers and maximize persuasion, which he lays out in his recent book The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind

Reduce reactance:

  • Guide the path but don’t push hard for a single option, people don’t like being pushed, they want to have agency, to feel like they are making their own choice.  
  • Also highlight gap between what they are currently doing and what they would recommend to someone else as the best course of action—people don’t like to be inconsistent

Ease endowment

  • There’s a stickiness to the status quo, so you need to reduce people’s attachment to things as they are
  • Point out the costs of things as they are, many of which may not be fully appreciated 

Shrink distance

  • People tend to look at new information or behaviors through the lens of what they already believe or do—if the gap is too large, they won’t make the leap to accept the new information or do the new activity.  
  • Give people new information in bite size chunks that don’t require them to make such a large leap of acceptance.  

Ease uncertainty

  • Getting people to do or try something new involves a leap of faith that the new thing will have valuable benefits that are worth the hassle of making a change.  
  • Provide opportunities for demonstrating benefits with as little friction as possible:  free samples, no fault returns, trial periods etc.

Offer corroborating evidence

  • People are highly responsive to social proof, so don’t be the only voice seeking to persuade someone
  • Enlist others, and other forms of social proof to create impression that more and more people are coming on board with whatever you are proposing


The Single Most Important Factor for Inspirational Leadership

When it comes to stepping up your ability to be inspirational,  Bain's recent research finds that out of 33 factors identified as being positively associated with inspirational leadership, the single most powerful factor is the quality and intensity  of your personal presence--what they call "centeredness."   This finding really connects to the concept we explore throughout the Joyful Impact framework around elevating your level of personal development, and your ability to connect to others with consideration and compassion.  And of course, as pointed out above, this higher level of consciousness also means being open to being influenced by others, even as you set out to influence and inspire them to take whatever action you might have had in mind.


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