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The Top 10 Rules of Influence and Persuasion

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If you want to persuade someone to:

  • Hire you
  • Invest in you
  • Buy something
  • Sign something
  • Go out with you
  • Make a deal

This is the article for you…

1. THE MAGIC BULLET

Generally speaking:

  • Older people lead younger people
  • Smarter people lead slower people
  • Taller people lead shorter people

But: CERTAINTY is the MAGIC BULLET

More than just confidence, if you’re absolutely 100% certain about what you believe, you’ll convince people. It’s as simple as that. Even if you’re wrong.

When two people meetif there is rapport, the person who is most certain will always influence the other person.” – Tony Robbins

Certainty is such a powerful and persuasive emotion that those who have it can make people believe or do anything.

Think about religious extremists. They’re so sure of their beliefs that they’re willing to kill and die for them. You’ll never hear them say: “I’m not sure”, “I could be wrong”, “You could be right”. Nope. In their mind there is no doubt whatsoever that they’re right. They’re not telling you their opinions, they’re telling you the facts.

Religious extremists are so certain of their beliefs that they’ve convinced people to:

  • Blow themselves up with suicide bombs
  • Give away all of their money and possessions
  • Behead people, burn them alive in cages, throw them off buildings, torture them
  • Rape women and children
  • Hijack commercial airlines and fly them into skyscrapers

I hope these examples demonstrate not only the incredible power of certainty to persuade people to believe or do anything, but also the fact that just because someone is 100% certain about their beliefs, and would even kill or die for them, that doesn’t mean that their beliefs are true, or that they have any basis in reality.

Certainty can come from knowledge and experience, from being a subject matter expert in your field, from knowing what you’re talking about, but it can also come from extreme ignorance. See the Dunning-Kruger effect. There are a lot of overconfident idiots out there who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about who lead others.

The bottom line is this: The more confident and certain you are about what you believe, the more you’ll convince other people of it too, even if you’re wrong.

2. IDENTIFY THEIR BUYING CRITERIA 

Did you see the movie The Wolf of Wall Street?

Do you remember the scene when Leonardo DiCaprio asked his staff to “Sell me this pen”, but no one seemed to know how to do it?

I was curious as to how it was done so I did my research, and I got the answer when I watched Piers Morgan interview Jordan Belfort (the real Wolf of Wall Street), and he said that the NUMBER ONE MISTAKE salespeople make when trying to sell a pen (or anything else) is that they talk about all of the benefits and features of the product:

“This is the greatest pen ever!”

“This pen can work upside down!”

“This pen defies gravity!”

This is a mistake.

You do not try to sell anyone anything, until you’ve asked them questions to determine what they’re looking for, and what they’re trying to achieve etc.

In other words: Until you understand their buying criteria.

This is important: You need to understand the other persons buying criteria, because unless you satisfy it, you will not convince anyone to do anything.

  • If you’re applying for a job – have you met the hiring manager’s criteria?
  • If you’re asking for a pay rise – have you met your bosses criteria?
  • If you’re asking someone to buy your product – does it meet their criteria?

You need to be able to enter their world, speak their language, and talk about what’s most important to them and how they can get it.

You need to be able to enter into the other persons world, speak their language, talk about what’s most important to them, and how they can get it.

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” – David Ogilvy

Too many people make the mistake of trying to sell before they understand the needs of the customer, or by just listing the benefits and features of their product.

But everyone has a different criteria for what it will take for them to:

  • Buy
  • Sell
  • Sign
  • Hire
  • Invest

And unless you satisfy it, you will not convince them.

You will not convince anyone by talking about what you want either.

No one cares what you want. That’s why homeless people starve.

The only thing anyone wants to know is: “What’s in it for me?”

  • Talk about what they want – not what you want
  • Talk about what they can get – not what you can get
  • Talk about what’s in it for them – not what’s in it for you

Then they’ll listen.

3. DO WHAT ADVERTISERS DO

If you’re trying to influence people online, do what advertisers do…

Advertising strategies used to influence you:

  • Anchoring – Show you a high price first, and then present you with a lower, more reasonable price
  • Authorities – 9/10 Doctors/Dentists recommend this product
  • Benefits and features – What are the advantages of this product?
  • Celebrities – love and use this product
  • Sexy women – love this product and are attracted to the people who use it
  • Successful people – use this product and it is the “secret” to their success
  • Social proof – Everyone else is doing it, you should too
  • Repeating messages (including lies) ad nauseam (nonstop) – the more a message is repeated, the more people will believe it – whether it’s true or not
  • Scarcity – Make you believe something is in limited supply, or that this offer “won’t last long”

Advertisers don’t try to convince you to buy their products through logic and reason, because they know that it isn’t facts and figures that influence (most) people – it’s emotions and feelings, and what everyone else is doing.

4. OVERCOME OBJECTIONS BEFORE THEY COME UP

I’m often amazed at how quickly most salespeople are put off their game by completely normal everyday objections.

Customer objections:

“I can’t afford it”

“I don’t have time”

“I can get it cheaper elsewhere”

Salesperson: “OK”

If you want to persuade someone to buy your product, to hire you, to invest in you etc. you need to be able to overcome their objections, and ideally, you should be anticipating and overcoming their objections BEFORE they come up.

This principle applies not only to sales but to persuasion in general.

Put yourself in the shoes of the customer/other person:

What objections might you have?

What questions?

What concerns?

When you answer questions before your customer even has to ask, and overcome objections before they even come up, you demonstrate to your customer that you’re seeing things from their perspective, that you’ve thought it through, and you’re not hiding anything from them.

In debating this is known as a prebuttal – and I’m a big fan of it.

Prebuttal (also known as Procatalepsis) is when you raise an objection to your own argument before someone else does, and then you immediately counter it. By doing so, you deal with any possible counter-arguments before anyone can raise them.

Examples of prebuttals:

“Why should you believe me though?”

“What if this turns out to be a mistake?”

“What if you change your mind?”

Another thing you can do is pose a question and then answer it. This is known as Hypophora.

“Why should you vote for me?” I’ll give you 5 good reasons…

“Why would anyone want to do this?” I’ll tell you why…

“Why should you buy from me and not my competitors?” Because I’m the only…

Sit down and think of every single possible counter-argument and objection to your argument or sales pitch, and then think of way to counter it, so you’re not caught off guard when they inevitably come up.

5. DON’T ARGUE – AGREE + AND

You will not persuade anyone by arguing with them and telling them they’re wrong.

It doesn’t matter if you have the facts on your side, or how much evidence you have to support your beliefs.

Arguing doesn’t work and facts don’t change minds due to Belief Perseverance and the The Backfire Effect.

Instead of arguing, if you want to persuade someone to your point of view, listen first, show them that you understand why they believe what they do, tell them where you agree, and then add something to it.

For example:

“You’re 100% correct when you say that we need to do something about terrorism. No doubt. You make a lot of good points. I especially like a), b), and c). I would also add…” (insert your points)

This allows you to share your perspective with the other person in a way that makes them feel validated and understood. By agreeing with the other person first and identifying shared beliefs and common ground, they’re much more likely to listen to you, and less likely to be closed-minded and defensive.

“When you’re trying to sell somebody a new idea, you must persuade them that the idea confirms their own opinions, rather than proves them wrong.” – Seth Godin

6. FRAME CONTROL

When two or more strangers meet, there is always someone who leads the interaction. One person leads, the other one follows.

Generally speaking, but not always, whoever is most confident and sure of themselves, will lead the other person, although it can also be the person with the most power or status, or simply the older, smarter, or taller person.

When you lead someone in an interaction and they fit into your reality, this is known as “frame control”.

In order to better understand what frame control is, we first need to understand what a frame is: A frame is simply someone’s perspective on reality.

When the media presents information in a biased way to make someone look good or bad, we speak of the way they’ve framed it.

When two or more people meet and they have different perspectives on reality, whoever has the strongest frame, whoever is most sure of themselves, will almost always lead the other person and “control the frame”.

Generally speaking:

When a child speaks with an adult, the adult controls the frame.

When a student speaks with a teacher, the teacher controls the frame.

When an employee speaks with the boss, the boss controls the frame.

In a friendship or a relationship, generally the one who is most confident, or has the most perceived value, or cares less, controls the frame.

Donald Trump, Tony Robbins, and Conor McGregor are all masters of frame control. They refuse to enter into anyone else’s reality for even a second. They refuse to be led. They will not see things from another perspective. Everyone else must fit into their reality. The end.

If you want to influence someone: Frame control is a must. The other person must buy into your reality. They must see you as a leader, an authority, an expert, someone who knows what they’re talking about.

If you cannot lead the other person and get them to fit into your reality, and see things from your perspective, you will not persuade them of anything.

Remember: He who controls the frame, controls the game.

7. WHO YOU ARE > WHAT YOU SAY

Actions speak louder than words. But who you are speaks louder than anything else.

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you want to influence someone, forget about trying to do it through arguments, logic, reason etc. and do it through your actions and results.

Life the life and there will be no need for you to convince anyone of anything.

“Success is the most convincing talker in the world.” – Napoleon

People are like children in that they pay more attention to who you are, and what you do, than to anything you might say.

8. BE A LEADER

If you want to influence people, they must perceive you as a leader.

No one listens to a follower. No one respects a follower. No one follows a follower.

How do you become a leader?

You can:

  • Start your own company
  • Work your way up to management
  • Become a subject matter expert in your chosen field

If you can become a subject matter expert, someone who knows their stuff better than anyone else does, people will definitely listen to what you have to say.

9. LOOK GOOD

If you want to influence people, look good.

The better you look, the more you’ll be liked, and the more other people will listen to what you have to say.

People love good looking people. That’s what advertisers hire good looking people to promote their products, and why so many are Instagram famous.

Do everything you can to look good. Wear clothes and colors that suit you. Eat healthy and your body and mind will thank you.

10. BE LIKABLE 

“If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.” – Abraham Lincoln

If you want to influence people, be likable.

The more likable you are, the more other people will want to be around you, and the more likely they are to want to help you.

Remember: People will do more for someone they like, for a friend, then they will for a stranger.

How do you become more likable?

  • Dress your best. People like to be around good looking people.
  • Find similarities with the other person. People like those who are like them. The more you have in common with someone, the more they’ll like you, and the more you’ll influence and lead them. Salespeople are trained to look for similarities, not differences, with the customer.
  • Give compliments. Everyone likes to be complimented. But make sure your compliments are sincere.
  • Respect yourself. The more you respect yourself, the more others will respect you too.
  • Smile. It’s attractive and it makes you feel good.

SUMMARY

I’m often told that I’m very persuasive. That I’m good at influencing people and getting them to see things from my point of view.

I think that’s true, and I think there are some good reasons:

  • I’m confident
  • I seek to understand before being understood, and I ask questions to understand what’s most important to you before trying to influence you in any way
  • I only try to convince people of things I’m absolutely sure of. If I don’t know, if I’m not sure, I won’t say anything. Most topics I don’t have any opinion at all on, so if someone asks me a question I’ll simply tell them the truth: “I don’t know”.
  • I back up my statements with a lot of facts, figures, and evidence
  • I overcome objections and answer questions BEFORE they come up
  • I don’t try to convince someone who is closed minded, who doesn’t want to listen
  • I won’t try to convince anyone to do something that isn’t good for them e.g. I would never try to convince you to vote one way or another, but I would definitely try to convince you to become a critical thinker and a truth seeker

I’ve tried to cover these points in this article.

Let’s do a recap:

  1. Certainty – The more confident you are, the more likely you are to persuade others – whether you’re right or wrong
  2. Ask questions to identify the other persons buying criteria, and what’s most important to them, before you try to persuade them to do anything
  3. Do what advertisers do – Copy their strategies and make them your own
  4. Overcome objections BEFORE they come up
  5. Don’t argue with people or tell them they’re wrong. Instead listen first, identify shared beliefs and common ground, and then add your own beliefs. Agree + And
  6. Frame Control
  7. Who you are > What you say. Live the life and there will be no need to convince anyone of anything
  8. Be a leader
  9. Look good
  10. Be likable

If you want to influence and persuade people now you know how to do it.

If you don’t want others to influence you, now you know the strategies they’re using.

I also recommend you check out: How to win an Argument and spend some time looking at Reddit Change My View and see what persuasion techniques work there.

You might also want to check out: 33 Ways People try to Manipulate You

Finally, I’d like to encourage you to start thinking about who and what you’re influenced by, and how it is that they influence you.

If you can become conscious of what influences you, it’ll probably be obvious what strategies work on other people.

If you liked this article please subscribe to my mailing list below and I’ll email you my latest articles whenever they’re released. NO SPAM EVER.

You might also like to check out these articles:

How to get Smarter: A guide to critical thinking, cognitive biases, and logical fallacies – Part 1

How to Learn: 21 Smart Strategies

Life Lessons All Articles

You might also like to check out this video which summarizes the strategies outlined in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s famous book: Influence: The psychology of persuasion

Footnote

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp image credit: BAKOUNINE / Shutterstock.com
Adam Sandler image credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com 
Arnold Schwarzenegger image credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Brad Pitt image credit: Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com
Jennifer Lopez image credit: Goran Vrhovac / Shutterstock.com

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