How to effectively influence others
We have compiled and summarized practical advice on how to effectively interact with people, as described by three of the most renowned experts in the field. They are Dale Carnegie, the "father" of modern influence theory, Robert Cialdini, who first highlighted research-based principles of communication, and Ray Dalio, a billionaire known for his non-trivial approach to building relationships.
CARNEGIE: FOCUS ON BEING GENTLE AND CREATIVE
Dale Carnegie had to convince people he was right throughout his life; a son of a poor Missouri farmer, he just had no other means of influence. He had mastered the art of storytelling perfectly long before it was even talked about.
Perhaps that's why his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936, immediately became a bestseller: more than a million copies were sold for less than a year.
Each of Carnegie's recommendations is based on a story that happened to him or someone he knew. He uses real-life examples to show how being able to influence people in the right way helps build a career and increase income.
Carnegie does not teach how to win arguments. He emphasizes: any arguments are pointless. "If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent's good will," the author quotes Benjamin Franklin.
Carnegie is convinced: you can encourage a person to give you what you want from him or her without arguing.
For example, not putting pressure on the opponent, nor pointing out his or her shortcomings, but emphasizing his or her strengths instead. For example, one tax consultant took a long time to wait for a decision from a state tax inspector. He appealed to his duties and sense of duty, but to no avail. Then he decided to change tactics and complimented his opponent, which the latter never expected. He noted that the official gained his knowledge in real work, not by studying books, unlike the consultant himself. In the end, the inspector made the decision his vis-a-vis had been waiting for.
Carnegie taught: pointing out other people's mistakes should be done with care.
He advised always starting with praise, and cited as an example a letter from Abraham Lincoln to General Hooker whose actions during the American Civil War Lincoln was dissatisfied with. The president had the wisdom to preface his criticism by enumerating the general's virtues and pledging his full support. With this simple trick, Lincoln was able to avoid open conflict with an influential general and convince the addressee that he was right.
It is possible to criticize indirectly, says Carnegie; it is less painful for those criticized. He explains it using the example of entrepreneur Charles Schwab. While walking around one of his steel plants, he noticed that workers were smoking in a wrong place. Instead of harshly pointing out their violation, he offered them a cigarette each, but advised to smoke them outdoors.
Carnegie advises avoiding a commanding tone with subordinates and replacing orders with questions and suggestions. He teaches, on the one hand, to praise employees for even the smallest achievements, and on the other hand, suggests that you do not hesitate to challenge them.
As an example, he tells the story of the appointment of Lewis Lawes as warden of Sing Sing Correctional Facility. No one, including him, wanted to take on this difficult position, and then New York State Governor Al Smith challenged Lawes.
"I don't blame you for being scared. It's a tough spot. It'll take a big person to go up there and stay," he said.
Of course, Lawes accepted the challenge. Although the techniques Carnegie suggested may look manipulative when taken out of context, this is not entirely true. Carnegie always stressed: people, regardless of their social status, should be treated with respect.
"Misunderstandings can never be resolved through argument, but only through tact, diplomacy, conciliation, and an understanding effort to understand the other person's point of view," he taught.
CIALDINI: THE SIX PRINCIPLES OF INFLUENCE
American psychologist Robert Cialdini spent decades studying the mechanisms of interaction between people and the manipulative techniques to which we all resort in one way or another, whether we realize it or not.
"All my life I've been a patsy," he once admitted.
Cialdini studied the subject of influence through the example of so-called "compliant professionals." As examples, he cited sellers of encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners.
To better understand their methods, Cialdini himself mastered these professions. In addition, the psychologist communicated with those who had to resist manipulators ex officio – police officers and employees of the consumer protection society.
The result of all of Cialdini's research was the six principles of influence which he formulated in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
The first principle is the principle of reciprocation. Its meaning boils down to one simple tenet: people tend to return the favor with a favor. We subconsciously prefer not to remain indebted to other people, so with great fervor we will try to be helpful to the person who has already done us something good. Help others and they are sure to reciprocate.
As an example, Cialdini cites the story of the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson.
We subconsciously prefer not to remain indebted to other people, so with great fervor we will try to be helpful to the person who has already done us something good. Help others and they are sure to reciprocate.
While serving in Congress and the Senate, he managed to do some minor favors for representatives of the legislative branch. In response years later, they supported his presidential initiatives. The principle of commitment and consistency states that one tends to act and even think depending on the decisions one has already made. So the one who has already made a bet at the racetrack begins to believe in the success of the chosen horse even more.
By adopting this principle, you can also influence those around you. For example, former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, in anticipation of any international negotiations, assured his opponents that their nations' honesty and friendliness were known throughout the world. The representatives of the other side accepted this argument and behaved accordingly, which was to Sadat's advantage.
Convince the other person that they will act consistently by complying with your request, and they will do so with more zeal than they could.
The principle of liking is that we are more willing to comply with the requests of those we know and like. Favor of the other person can be achieved by similarity of appearance and character, praise, and a well-functioning contact. Based on this principle, sellers ask customers to recommend their friends who might also benefit from their product or service. That way they will not appear to new clients as strangers, but as people who have a good reference.
The principle of authority is based on the fact that we are more willing to listen to people who have weight in our eyes. Stanley Milgram's experiment is a rather sad illustration of the validity of this principle.
This sensational experiment was first conducted in the United States in 1963. An actor, who acted as an authoritative researcher, told forty test subjects that they would help scientists investigate the effects of electric current on human memory. The test subjects had to watch a "student" answer the "researcher's" questions. If the answers were wrong, they were to press a button, supposedly punishing the student with an electric shock. According to the legend of the experiment, with each new press the electric voltage of a discharge increased.
The experiment showed that people tend to submit to authority even when its decisions run counter to generally accepted notions of morality and humanity.
However, this principle derived by Cialdini also has a positive interpretation: thanks to its action, humanity does not live in anarchy. In business relationships, this principle means that a person will be more attentive to a request of someone who has authority in his or her eyes, be it formal or informal authority.
Some of the principles Cialdini derived are rarely applied in the corporate world, but are actively used in everyday life, for example, in the relationship between buyers and sellers. It is about the principle of social proof and the principle of scarcity.
According to the former, we determine what is right by finding out what other people think is right. We laugh when others laugh. We buy what others buy, even if we don't really need it. The consequence of these two situations is the laughter of invisible viewers in sitcoms and the frenzy which makes people sweep sugar or salt off store shelves as soon as they hear about an impending shortage of these items.
The latter principle states that a scarce commodity is the best one. Say that there are only three places left in a new enrollment of your course, and you will see people streaming in, even if they were not particularly interested in the course before.
RAY DALIO: AIMING AT TOTAL OPENNESS
Ray Dalio is a 72-year-old billionaire, one of Wall Street's most successful financiers, founder of Bridgewater Associates, an investment firm.
If you suppress criticism, you prevent employees from expressing good ideas and make them accumulate resentment, which will eventually lead to rebellion. In addition, aversion to criticism leads to simply not knowing what problems are in the company.
He formulated a set of principles of interaction with other people – partners and subordinates – which helped him achieve success and recognition.
One of the main ones is the principle of complete transparency towards employees.
One day after receiving a not-so-pleasant joint letter from his subordinates, Ray Dalio realized: people who do not know him well enough may misinterpret his behavior.
And then he decided that he would clearly and frankly communicate all his principles to all employees of the company.
Here they are:
1. Honestly say what you think.
2. Discuss productively what you disagree with and be ready to change your mind.
3. Have approved ways to make decisions in case contradictions cannot be resolved.
The rules were not just voiced, but also recorded in the company's internal documents. Ray Dalio, even years later, believes that this decision was absolutely correct.
"Transparency gives you an understanding of what's really going on and what people really think. It is also the basis of trust: the person himself or herself draws conclusions about the situation of the company, rather than deciding whether to trust the management's speeches," he commented on his approach in an interview with RBC.
Ray Dalio also encourages his subordinates to criticize his actions. He believes that good communication with people is at the heart of productive work. If you suppress criticism, you prevent employees from expressing good ideas and make them accumulate resentment, which will eventually lead to rebellion. In addition, aversion to criticism leads to simply not knowing what problems are in the company.
You can't make people – subordinates or colleagues – work effectively under pressure; it won't produce good results. You need them to be with you both in mind and in heart. So, first of all, the leader must understand what the people themselves want, and to do this he or she needs to build a reliable communication with them – to find out what they believe in, what they think is fair. Dalio is convinced that it is the ability to hear people that is the most important quality of a leader.
The principles of Dale Carnegie, Robert Cialdini, and Ray Dalio are still valid and applicable. Try to comprehend them and incorporate them into the practice of your everyday communication; hopefully it will be helpful.
7 EFFECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF INTERPERSONAL INFLUENCE
1. Use rational persuasion: facts, results of analysis, personal experience, and expert knowledge.
2. Make people like you: treat them fairly, with respect and trust.
3. Rely on the rule of reciprocity: thank people for what they do for you.
4. Create your own allies: try to understand people's needs and share your point of view with them.
5. Be persistent – ask for what you want, be open and clear about your requests.
6. Gain the support of higher level supervisors by demonstrating competence and professionalism in your work.
7. Reward people for behaving in a way that is desirable to you.