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In our everyday conversations and disputes, we employ what social scientists call Principles of Influence. Understanding these principles and consciously choosing them helps us regain our balance during a dispute and find our way back to cooperation. The principles of influence are Reciprocity, Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. We're highly motivated to return a favor or a good deed or respond to a positive action with another positive action. This is the principle of reciprocity.
As a social norm, if you're treated kindly, you're much more likely to respond with kindness, rather than self-interest. If you're treated with hostility, you're likely to match that hostility or worse. As Heather and Jack attempt to resolve their misunderstanding, Heather might agree to make herself available for quick career development check-ins, while Jack might respond by running new opportunities by Heather first. So using reciprocity requires knowing what you want and what you're willing to give in return.
Consistency is really about integrity. Once we commit to something, we have a strong drive to do what we say we're going to do. That's why we're motivated to make good on financial agreements or to meet deadlines on projects. Social proof, it's really about conforming to custom or group behavior. You're more likely to put a tip in the jar if there's already money in it, or work overtime on a project if the whole team is doing the same. Social proof in the workplace might look like getting the ear of an influence or to support your promotion or a creative idea.
The principle of liking means that people who are similar to us are more likely to be influenced by us. If you are a mom, you are more likely to connect with and trust other moms in your organization. The next principle is authority, our tendency to obey or believe people in positions of power, like a boss or a professor. But power is not solely vested in someone's title or position. We also align with authority by the brands we buy, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, and even the people we hang out with.
We also use authority when we cite statistics or use testimonials or customer feedback to give our product or service credibility. Continuing with our conflict story, Jack may claim more authority and gain more workability by networking with influencers in the company, asking for Heather's buy-in on projects and regularly communicating his results, and accomplishments to her. Finally, scarcity. It's the idea that if something is in limited supply it will create demand.
We see this in advertising all the time, buy now, supplies are limited. In the workplace, scarcity may take the form of urgency. If you are trying to get buy-in on an idea or a project, you might stress the impact that acting immediately will have on the competition or productivity and bottom lines. All of these persuasion principles can be used to deceive or manipulate, or they can be used honestly to help guide people to take positive action. So the key to your success as a problem- solver is to become a student of human nature.
Seek to understand what motivates people to do what they do and use the principles of influence collaboratively for the greater good.
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