I am using my writing to sort out my thoughts on this topic. Opinions are subject to change throughout. Inspired by the attraction/repulsion I experienced reading “Guy Kawasaki’s blog”:http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/04/book_review_inf.html about the “influence” work of Robert Cialdini.
Point #1: I chose not to include the “Dr.” in front of his name. I think academic titles are a somewhat out-dated concept for measuring abstract knowledge and conferring a type of hierarchical status on an individual. But of course it does play into one of Robert’s six principles of persuasion: Authority. And yes, I have an axe to grind with academia. But that’s the topic of another blog.
Point #2: One thing I don’t feel that confused on at the moment is the difference between influence and control. It’s common to hear someone say, “He made me [do that].” I don’t believe one person can control another, except in extreme conditions of physical imprisonment or parents over children. The rest of the time, we feel compelled by others to act a certain way, but in fact, we are succumbing to their influence (which certainly may be over-bearing.) And it is this sort of dynamic that has me both curious about understanding influence better yet skeptical of “the science” of it. The added reality is that most people do not know or understand that can say no (or yes) regardless of what someone else is urging them into or out of. It can take tremendous backbone to not buy Microsoft just because everyone else does. Or that old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” I am not interested in lemmings.
Point #3: Maybe I would feel better about high-priced seminars that teach us how to influence others (translation: make more sales and climb the ladder faster) if there were a similar seminar also targeted at business and corporations teaching people discernment. And how to resist really slick influencers. Because at the end of the day, I believe that the most valuable transactions are those that are conducted between equal peers, not between one with average self-esteem (most vulnerable to persuasion) and a graduate of “how to influence” people.
Point #4: Even the most ethical, win-win focused sellers are vulnerable to drinking their own koolaid. I am one. I love the internet, I love how it works, and I know small businesses can benefit from it. It’s not that easy to sort out my sincere beliefs and teaching skills versus really hearing what it is a client may want. Who cares if the internet is the answer to their problems if they don’t want to learn how to use it effectively? I’ve sold to those people, with the sincere belief that I would show them the great tech way and they would derive benefits. But they didn’t. Because they didn’t care. I am learning that I would rather not close those deals. And I am learning that there are flags I can recognize for this type of customer. I am more interested in truly frank dialog, not pitches and suckers. When there is enough truth on the table, it’s easy to see what the relationship can be about.
Over here in the transition, I am very tuned in and sensitive to discrepancies in the energy of how people present themselves and the language they use. It’s not easy to sell influence techniques without attracting the bottom-feelers of the manipulator class of humans.
Point #5: I am also skeptical of formulas for success, because life can be so much more complex and because “spirit rules” aver all. Yet I also love that people can be taught to act more consciously. Can be taught to observe our own behavior and how we sabotage situations inadvertently.
And maybe that is the rub. My #2 personality does not trust any sort of influencing, as she was usually at effect of others. (I recognize the all or nothing give-away in there.) Yet my #1 is very curious about learning to truly connect with people who can help me get what I want. And it does not matter to me what others do with it, unless of course they try to trick me into a corner! Seller beware – we buyers are finally getting hip.