Networking: Section 9 - Exerting Influence and Gaining Compliance Part 1

Our predictable social responses 

As “social animals” we are responsive to certain common preconceived notions and powerful trigger situations. Our reflex reactions are very predictable. They form the necessary fabric of our society. We are taught, and often disciplined, to respect authority, conserve valuable resources, make friends and protect the helpless. 

 For some of us it may be shocking to realize how much advertising is crafted to motivate us, and how much of what we say to others pushes their social reflexes. On the other hand, it’s good to be aware of such influences. Awareness means that we can be in better control of how we respond, and that we can be less callous or clumsy in how we treat others. 

“Advertising has us working jobs we don’t like so that we can buy stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t know.” 
— Ronan Graybear 

 Don’t be cynical about it, but people can be influenced. We behave in predictable ways. This is a normal part of our civilized behavior. We teach, sell and negotiate in every facet of our lives. When we think that we are right, we try to get our way or persuade others to our point of view.  

It’s not inherently bad to understand human reactions and apply that understanding. The evil is to use our knowledge of influence to move someone away from their own best interests.  

“If you treat people right, they will treat you right — ninety percent of the time.” 
— Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 The purposes of communication 

Sometimes you communicate just to share information or entertain. But, more often than not, you are trying to influence someone to achieve your desired outcome. Face it, you are trying to change someone’s attitude or behavior. Do you have the right to do that? 

 Look at this question from another point of view. What is the point of any communication if there is not a goal or desired outcome? Such a conversation would be as pointless (and probably as uninteresting) as a journey with no destination. 

 You have things to share with others. You have a unique background that combines your inborn characteristics with your personal experiences. You know things that are interesting. You have information that may be valuable to others. 

 When you have strong emotions about something, the ability to express yourself clearly, with kindness and humor, will help your contribution be welcomed in a conversation. It’s okay to be you and express yourself to others. It’s okay to influence someone to your way of thinking or to make things come out the way you want if you play fair. Remember, “influence” is not the same as “manipulate.” 

 Do you have the others’ best interests at heart? Are you telling the truth? Are you alert to the other person’s response? Are you flexible? Are you consistent? Does your desired outcome dovetail with what the other person wants or needs? 

Stimulating positive results 

Have you noticed that some people have trouble learning from a book? They may learn more-easily when someone explains things to them or if they learn by doing. Not everyone experiences the world in the same way you do. Different learning styles affect some people more profoundly than others. 

 Auditory people respond better to what they HEAR. Visual people respond better to what they SEE. Kinesthetic people respond better to what they DO and FEEL. Everybody responds better to a positive goal. (These statements represent tendencies, not absolutes.) 

 When you recognize how the person you’re communicating with learns and responds, you can do a better job of engaging them. When they imagine the end results you want to achieve, what are they hearing, seeing and feeling? If you are communicating well, they will have a clear and positive impression of your desired outcome. 

 Backtrack a minute. Before you can share your goal, you have to understand it clearly yourself. Take some quiet time to imagine how things will be when you achieve what you want. See how that looks. Hear how success will sound. Feel how you hope to feel. You need all of this. If you get “off the track,” come back to this moment and choose more clearly the best way to achieve your goal. 

Making Commitments: “CoudjaWoudjaWhen” 

My aunt, Joy Marshall, taught me that the mind has several necessary, progressive stages that must be experienced in order to make commitments. Of course, she uses this to motivate herself and others. Joy also uses this technique for emotional healing therapy. It is especially helpful when a person needs to recognize and commit to release specific negative emotions. 

Could You? First, you have to acknowledge that the change is possible. 

Would You? Next, you have to acknowledge that you would be willing to make the change. 

When? Finally, you have to commit to actually doing it. 

 This is a very powerful technique. In the case of old resentments, for instance, once you’ve said “yes” to the first two questions, your mind knows that the answer to the third is “right now.” Then, the anger just melts away leaving you feeling all clean and shaky. 

 I think the principle holds true for all kinds of decision and commitment making. This is well worth exploring. 

What gets rewarded gets done 

Why do something if nobody notices or cares? Measurement permits recognition, which is necessary before there can be a reward. Notice the many ways that you respond to the offer of a reward and how you might use similar measurements and rewards to motivate others. 

 Unfortunately, this concept can also be used for ill. If a situation is set up to measure or reward the wrong intention or action, the wrong thing will get done. For instance, when I worked in a computer support group, our new boss decided to rank us according to the number of problem reports that we cleared each week. The result was that lazy technicians chose the easy problems. Some workers prematurely reported problems as closed. This forced the person with a problem to call in a “new” report to get anything done.  

Not every person will respond to such external rewards or threats. I didn’t like my boss’s problem-reporting game and wouldn’t play; I enjoyed the personal challenge (including the praise, recognition and reputation among the clients) of solving the tough problems. My new boss never understood what pushed my buttons, but he did build an impressive rank-reporting database system that got him promoted. I see now that he was simply manipulating the measures for which he was being evaluated. 

Network marketing organizations are notorious for measuring your sales and recruiting activity and offering rewards. Our cats will almost always chase a little ball that we bounce their way. But, you don’t have to respond to every carrot or stick. Decide which trips or bonuses you want to achieve and then have the dignity to ignore whatever rah-rah is not important to you. 

On the other hand, rewards are actually quite effective for many people. You probably should consider organizing contests and prizes for achievement among the people in your organization. Hey, make it fun. Try not to be too cynical. 

Price is associated with quality 

We have come to accept and expect that something has more value if we have to work harder or sacrifice more to acquire it. This is expressed in sayings such as “You get what you pay for,” and “You have to pay for quality.” 

 A seller of tourist jewelry noticed that one rack was moving slowly and left a note for a clerk to re-price it by half. Misreading the note the clerk doubled the prices instead. It didn’t take long for customers to buy most of the rack. The owner learned a valuable lesson. 

There are several take-away:

  1. If you give things away (such as third-party literature or nutritional consultations) people will not fully respect their value.

  2. Stick with the marketing plan. Once you start selling retail at membership rates, people will have no motivation to let you sponsor them. 

Coupons mean a discount 

We all know people who collect, file, organize and trade coupons. They save a lot of money. We may envy them. The fact is that not every coupon is valuable to every person. What do you save if you buy something at discount if you don’t need that item? Worse, merchants have discovered that some people  respond to a coupon even when it does not offer a real discount.  

And, of course, now that you are now the seller, it would make sense to pay attention to coupons in your own marketing.