Platforms of Influence

Written by: Alan Rodway

Platforms of Influence

This article examines the ways we influence other people’s behaviours. The aim is to make it more explicit and understandable, so that we can improve how we go about doing so.

We all have the ability to influence the behaviours of other people, in our personal, professional (and sporting) lives. Sometimes we do this accidentally, sometimes without even realizing it’s happening and sometimes it’s deliberate. Certainly, a refined ability to influence the behaviour of other people is an extremely important skill to have.

There are usually a number of components that make up someone’s ability to influence the behaviour of someone else and, when combined, they form a platform of influence .. like a series of building blocks put together to form a floor. There may sometimes be just one but there are usually more and the size (significance) of each building block often differs.

So, what can each of these building blocks be? Here are some examples of how people can influence others

  1. Logic … some people will be influenced because of regard for the logic in the communication.
  2. Intellect … some will be influenced by intellectual aspects in the communication.
  3. The stature of someone can give (powerful) influence over another.
  4. Seniority or authority are natural influences (and can be effective or ineffective, depending on how they are ‘used).
  5. Age can lead to influence, e.g. older age / life experience, younger age / I.T.
  6. Strength of personality.
  7. Intimidating or threatening approaches (albeit negatively influencing others).
  8. Demonstrated care of someone else (through trust and appreciation).
  9. People with presence and charisma can alter the behaviours of others.
  10. Experience itself can cause people to regard someone’s advice or opinions.
  11. Knowledge … the more someone knows the more likely they will be able to influence others.
  12. Being articulate, written and/or spoken, can be a powerful influencing skill.
  13. Body language (skills) are important because they represent almost half of the messaging people receive.
  14. Humour can be a very powerful way of influencing others. Making people laugh and be happy can actually increase connection.
  15. Talking a lot can influence behaviour … one way or the other. The talker can be dismissed if it’s predominantly empty or superficial talk but can be very much listened to if the content has substance.
  16. Motive and trust are massive in influencing someone else. When the motive is known and trusted the ability to influence is great.
  17. Respect is a most powerful building block in the platform.
  18. Friendship, just because of its nature, can lead to influence over others. But sometimes friendship can downgrade influence through familiarity.
  19. Someone with strong past success or results is likely to be able to influence others.
  20. Appearance can also be part of influence.
  21. This list is not exhaustive and there are other aspects that can lead to an ability to influence other people’s behaviours and thoughts.

Three things are important to understand and work with:

  • The platform of influence over someone will usually have more than one of the above building blocks and when that’s so they are usually vary in ‘size’.
  • The platform of influence over one person will be different to the platform for another.
  • Platforms for each person can change over time.

So, what’s the point of all of this?

  • Every person can influence the behaviours of (some) others.
  • The influence exerted over someone else can be deliberate or accidental and therefore it’s important to be aware that it is occurring, so that it can be positive.
  • Each platform of influence should be evaluated in terms of its ‘health’, case by case.

It’s important to understand the difference between control and influence. If someone has to do what someone else says through seniority or authority then that’s control. There’s nothing wrong with that unless it’s always the basis of the platform … the recipient may tire of the control and the deliverer may not grow their ability to influence.

When attempting to influence someone else, it can be extremely effective to openly declare the motive for communication that’s about to follow. For example, “I genuinely believe that if you make the change I’m going to talk with you about, it will really help you …”. The recipient is way more likely to listen and act if they are aware of, and trust, the motive of the deliverer.

So, we should be aware of the platforms of influence we have for each other person, professionally and personally. Then determine if they are comprised of the most effective building blocks. If not, set about changing them. There are large traps in this arena for senior people in business, where it’s all too easy to rely on one building block for the platform … seniority / authority. That lacks leadership .. it’s just control. It’s necessary at times, of course, but it’s one trick pony stuff if it’s used too often.

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