Invisible Influence

"Because people are constantly trying to find the right words to say to someone, they ignore something that is 100 times bigger than the exact words: they ignore the context."

- Invisible Influence, page 65

You will only want to read Kevin Hogan’s book Invisible Influence if you need to influence people around you. If anyone just excused him/herself, let me know. I’m curious to know who in this world does not have to influence anyone around them.

For those of you still with me, imagine you are going into an important meeting. You really want the person across the table to not just love your ideas, but to buy into them and sign up! You know all the features and benefits and you’ve memorized your script. Ready? Wait! Stop!

Most people fail to influence because they don’t take into consideration the many variables that sit outside of what you say. It’s not in the script. Nor is it in the value of your offering. Kevin Hogan summarizes the scientific discoveries that reveal unique approaches to influence others. There are things you should do and should not do, well beyond what you say.

The Golden Egg

Golden Egg: The biggest takeaway from the book

Little things make a big difference in influence

"Value is not the key factor in selling or persuasion."
- Invisible Influence, page 62

How do people process their feelings and what mental shortcuts do they take to make their choices? Little things can make a big difference. After he gives us the big picture facts, he offers 52 tips (one for each week of the year) to help you influence others more effectively.

You’ll likely want to read all his tips. Here’s just one tip as an example. Do you think people are more motivated by what they will gain or what they will lose? In other words, which statement do you think would be more influential?

a) It’s your choice to join the exercise program. I just worry that your health will suffer if you don’t and you will end up immobile like your mother.
b) It’s your choice to join the exercise program. I just think about how much more energy and vitality you will have if you do.

If you chose a) you are correct. People are much more motivated by what they could lose. And this loss aversion is especially true when it comes to safety.

Gem #1

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

The birthplace of influence is in what you expect

"Invisible influence begins with an Expectant Mind and it stops without it."
- Invisible Influence, page 13

Kevin says it is the funniest thing in the world to watch people say “Here’s the script, just do this and you’ll get this result.” Why? Because what the person thinks and how he/she feels speaks volumes! Their expectancy will speak much louder than their words. “Exact words will ultimately fail,” he said.

I work with pharmaceutical professionals. For years, training departments have tried to script their sales people. If only they say exactly what we tell them, they’ll win the business. But they don’t. It hasn’t worked.

How the other person will respond to you is created in your mind first. What you tell yourself about why you are there and the difference you will make will impact your success tremendously.

Imagine the different impact the following two professionals have.

Professional A: Believes he is sales rep visiting the doctor to get her to write more prescriptions so he can increase the market share in his territory so he can win his bonus. He expects that he is going to be a bother to the doctor and she won’t want to spend much time with him.

Professional B: Believes he is a partner to the health care professional. He is there to help the doctor make the best choice for her patients so the patients will have the best outcome possible. He expects that he can help the doctor and they will have an interesting and useful conversation.

Which professional will be more influential? Do you see how the ‘expectancy’ will speak louder than words?

This expectancy begins by getting in touch with the difference you will make to the world. The importance of focusing on your why has been discussed by many authors including, Simon Sinek (the most notable of late) in his popular TED talk and book Start With Why.

Gem #2

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

Make sure the tank is full!

"Talking to people who are out of units for the day is like talking to loose cannons."
- Invisible Influence, page 80

One thing I’m much more conscious of now is context. I was always aware of the importance of location on your ability to impact someone. A coffee meeting in McDonald’s, for example, will elicit a much different response than the same meeting in the tea room at the Ritz! But I hadn’t thought much about the impact of the timing of that meeting until Kevin taught me about Self-Regulation units (SRUs). Each time we exercise self-control, we burn up SRUs.

It makes perfect sense. I know that I am a much more impatient mommy during a late Saturday night bath time after a full day of managing the children. The kids know this is not the time to push my buttons.

I started the day with a full tank. Let’s say 100 SRUs. Managing the kids’ first squabble at breakfast over who got the pink cup drained a couple of SRUs. The self-regulation it took me to turn piano practice into a fun time instead of just yelling at them to do it themselves burned a few more. Then managing their resistance to getting dressed and out the door on time to make it to skating lessons burned a few more. You get the idea. By bedtime, my tank was empty.

Now, think about the people you need to influence. Wouldn’t it be better to approach them when they are most receptive; when their SRUs are near full instead of near empty? And wouldn’t you be more influential when your tank is closer to full? Timing is everything.

I now am much more conscious to book my most important influential communications in the morning instead of the afternoon and avoid at all cost the dreaded 4-5pm meeting time slot! The reserves are nearly drained by then! The front end of the week is also better than the back end.

Of course reading all of Kevin’s 52 tips at once won’t change your behavior. Hogan suggests you write down one at a time and keep it somewhere you can see for one week. Practice it for that week. Then write down the next one. Continue until the technique becomes a part of your unconscious processing. Oh, and do it on a post-it note. He references a study that shows communications with post-it notes elicits more responses than those without! Just another little tip that can appear invisible but make a noticeable difference!

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Jill Donahue

ABOUT Jill Donahue

Everything I do is focused on improving patient outcomes. I do that by being a student and teacher of ethical, effective influence. I teach pharma people and health care professionals how to improve their ability to influence others...
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