Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen

Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen

by Zoe Chance

Influence is Your Superpower explores influence, how it works, and how you can harness it for positive, ethical results. The book emphasizes the power of influence by using insights from cognitive science, linguistics, and market research to empower readers to unlock their own natural influence abilities.

Summary Notes

Influence Doesn’t Work The Way You Think It Does

“When you become someone people want to say yes to, you are heavily rewarded.”

Most people say yes when asked if they want to become more influential because influence is power. When we are influential, we can affect change, direct resources, and influence hearts and minds. If you become someone people love to say yes to, you will reap the rewards.

The ability to influence people is useful in many different situations. Influence is your superpower, and you can use it to negotiate better deals for yourself and others. You can create unexpected favors and opportunities for everyone involved or improve your everyday life, your community, and the world.

In terms of changing others’ behavior, the assumption that you must be persuasive or win over their mind first before changing it is false. The truth is that a large part of our daily lives is governed by automatic and unconscious mental processes. Conscious effort is not going to be able to influence a person’s gut reactions.

This explains why most of us make significant decisions like who to vote for and whether or not to sue someone based on little more than gut reactions, even if we tell ourselves a different story.

So, the first step in understanding, predicting, or influencing other people's behavior needs to begin with their unconscious snap judgments.

People tend to take the path of least resistance whenever they are given the opportunity to do so. This is the bedrock principle of influencing behavior. That said, the most effective way to get someone to change their behavior or do business with you is to make it easy for them to do so.

Actions to take

Say “No” More Often

“When you don’t set boundaries around your generosity, your kindness saps your strength, diminishing your ability to be influential. Saying no creates vitally important limits.”

Generosity is associated with higher incomes, better grades, higher productivity, and more frequent promotions. Many of the most successful people in the world are huge givers. However, the least successful people tend to be givers as well. The only difference is that unsuccessful givers are more prone to burnout, falling behind in work, or even becoming victims of violent crimes or plaintiffs in lawsuits.

Most people, and especially nice people, have internalized social norms around politeness that make life difficult. Even if we don't want to, we say yes to people's requests or invitations because it would be impolite not to. Yet when we are in need, asking for help from others seems rude. It has become ingrained in us to be both generous and self-sufficient without considering the depletion this causes.

By saying no, you open yourself up to hearing it; when that happens, you no longer fear asking. Your requests lose their edge of neediness or fear of rejection, which can often repel others. As a result, people are more likely to give you what you ask for.

Confidence and trust are conveyed when you know and understand your own parameters. There is a sense of relaxedness and freedom that is felt by all parties involved, and they are more open to the benefits of influence that benefit you both.

Actions to take

Just Ask

“The easiest thing you can do to become more influential is just ask.”

If you're holding back from asking because you want to be liked, think about how you’re preventing people from feeling good about saying yes to you. You may be surprised to learn that more people are likely to say yes than you think.

Asking for what you want gets you better grades, more promotions, larger job opportunities, and even more orgasms. Most people don't realize how often they don't ask until they start asking more often.

The reason most of us are reluctant to ask is that we fundamentally misunderstand the psychology of asking and underestimate our chances of success. In addition to not asking often enough and not asking directly enough, you probably aren't asking for enough. Asking more often increases your chances of getting a yes.

Additionally, the likelihood of someone saying yes to a smaller request increases after rejecting a larger one. Taking a step back from a big request to something smaller is seen as a concession on your part, and the other person feels inclined to reciprocate.

Remember that you'll only know what people will agree to if you ask (and make it outrageous). There is a possibility that you could make a huge request to create room for a future concession, only to find out that the other person agrees immediately.

Actions to take

The Curious Qualities of Charisma

“Charisma isn’t something you are. It’s something you do, which places it within your control; you can become more charismatic by adjusting the way you interact with people.”

The first paradox of charisma is that trying to be charismatic has the opposite effect. While we aren’t consciously trying to be the center of attention most of the time, we can subconsciously fall into this trap, focusing on ourselves in uncharismatic ways.

In fact, always focusing on ourselves is anti-charismatic. You might assume that when someone’s attention is on themselves, they are talking narcissistically, but often it’s the opposite. Consistent self-focus usually arises from feelings of insecurity. When you feel vulnerable, you can’t help but direct your attention inward.

When someone lacks power, status, or agency, they tend to focus on their own experience: “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine.” These people often use vague words and phrases that convey caution, like "I was just wondering," "I thought maybe..." "Can I ask a stupid question?" and "I'm sorry but..." Using words and phrases that are indirect and express a lack of power are called diminishers.

Although no one will dislike you for diminishing yourself, they’re not going to like you for it, either. Like boomerangs, diminishers keep bringing attention right back to you. Diminishers are hard to listen to, easy to interrupt, and astonishingly common. The best way to stop using diminishers is to simply just get to the point.

The second paradox of charisma is that you attract other people’s attention by giving them yours. Always remember that the most important person on the stage is the other actor. In fact, many highly charismatic individuals can make you feel like the most important person in the world.

The third paradox of charisma is to connect with many people, connect with one. You can achieve this through the process called “shining.”

Shining is an electric connection that gives someone the feeling of being the only other person in the room. In contrast to other public speaking strategies, shining requires the participation of another person. The only way you can shine is if someone feels you shine. You can't shine if they're looking at their phone. You make them feel more alive when you shine. This is how you will feel as a performer as well: simultaneously connected, vulnerable, and empowered. By reaching out to them, you are also letting them in.

Actions to take

The Life-Changing Magic of A Simple Frame

“Framing is how spellcasting works in the real world.”

Framing is magical. It determines people’s experiences and even shapes how they think.

It would be easy to name white things if you were asked to do so, wouldn't it? But suppose it were framed differently, like asking you to think of white things like milk and snow? The world is full of white things, but once you focus on milk and snow, it's difficult to think of other white things, like clouds and coconut flakes. The iconic white color of milk and snow creates a strong frame that inhibits alternatives.

Another way to put it is that effective frames can become so sticky that it becomes impossible to see things differently.

Knowing where to start when trying to frame things more consciously can be difficult. There are infinite possible frames, but the three most useful are monumental, manageable, and mysterious.

In a monumental frame, the unconscious mind is told to pay attention. It’s said that what’s being presented is a big deal! People are motivated by its importance, size, scope, or fear of missing out. A monumental frame inspires a sense of commitment and enthusiasm.

Putting a monumental frame around a problem can motivate people and inspire action. However, when problems already feel overwhelming, you may use manageable frames instead.

Monumental frames emphasize why (It's important!), while manageable frames emphasize how (It's not that difficult). When small, immediate goals are achieved, momentum and persistence are created. When people are experiencing fears, grief, or doubt, a manageable frame can be particularly helpful.

A mysterious frame is effective because it disrupts the guessing process and the expectations that go with it. Words and phrases like “new,” “suddenly,” or “breaking news” are mysterious frames that spark curiosity about what has changed. Words like “mystery,” “secret,” or “reveal,” or topics framed as questions spark that same underlying uncertainty that piques our curiosity.

If you find yourself indecisive about which frame to use, combining frames can cover all your bases.

Actions to take

Expect Resistance

“Even if you have the best intentions, someone you are trying to influence might feel you’re threatening to take away their time, attention, money, or other valuable resources.”

You will, sooner or later, encounter resistance and objections as you exert your influence on others. If you encounter resistance, don't shut down. At the same time, you should avoid aggressively attacking others' objections. Rather than fighting resistance, you can redirect it to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Objections can be anticipated, deflected, and reframed using these three simple strategies.

The first thing you should do if a listener rejects your proposal is not to downplay their feelings. It is important to acknowledge their resistance and articulate it, if possible. You disarm someone when you explain their resistance. Furthermore, you silence the negative voice in their minds, allowing them to focus on what you have to say.

A second effective trick is to ask permission before you ask something. We are bombarded with requests and offers every day. It is not uncommon for the unconscious brain to kick in and automatically reject every new proposition. Rather than asking, “Can I get a raise?" try asking, "Can we discuss my pay this week?" If they say yes, they've agreed to consider your request.

The possibility of a pay rise isn't dead if they say no—just the possibility of discussing it this week.

Last but not least, affirm someone's freedom of choice when you present them with a proposition. You may use phrases such as "No pressure" or "Feel free to say no." Of course, your listener is free to refuse, whether you affirm their choice or not. However, a blunt request could feel coercive to your listener. Setting the tone for resentment-free interactions begins with emphasizing that you do not want to pressure them.

Actions to take

Negotiating with the Magic Question

“In order to open a world of possibilities and advantages, first, you need to know that negotiation is possible. Then you need to be comfortable doing it.”

A negotiation is simply a conversation that aims to reach an agreement. Most people, however, avoid negotiating raises or promotions because they find it so stressful.

The good news is that it is possible to frame a situation in a way that doesn't feel awkward or adversarial by simply asking a simple question. Taking this approach could help you and the other side reach an agreement. This is known as the magic question: "What would it take?"

If you truly wanted a raise, for example, you could simply ask your boss, "How can I move forward in my career?" Think about it: How would you react to that question if you were a manager? Chances are, you’ll be delighted to explain: "Here's what needs to be done." Whether it's a client, a child, or anyone else, The magic question works—and it can be used repeatedly with the same person, even if they know how it works. There are four reasons for this.

Firstly, it stimulates creativity. “What would it take?” asks us to consider new approaches and discard conventional ideas.

A second benefit of the magic question is that it conveys respect. When you ask this question, you acknowledge that you are not an expert on the other person's situation, needs, or obstacles.

Thirdly, the magic question can reveal critical information. Any negotiation requires gathering information, and if you treat the other party well, they can be your most valuable resource. Lastly, the magic question shifts the conversation from confrontation to collaboration and leads to simpler solutions requiring fewer resources than you had expected.

Actions to take

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