Finally the great sequel to our previous list on tricks for influencing people! As before, nothing here is meant to be negative, or to in any way lower someone’s self esteem, doubt their own reality, or anything of the sort. Such techniques do not give you real influence over anyone, they just harm already vulnerable people. Like the last one, we will discuss in this article how you can influence people in simple, yet subtle ways, while still being kind and making the world a better place overall.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Ways to Seem Smarter than You Are
Fact: Use People’s Hunger To Your Advantage; It Affects Their Decision-Making
At the University of The Negev In Israel back in 2011, researcher Shai Danziger and his team went through well over 1000 parole board cases over a ten month period. Their study was comprehensive as it included 40% of the entire countries parole board requests over that time period, and the judges had an average experience of about 22 years each on the bench. What the researchers found was that the judges made nicer decisions the closer it was to the last time that they had eaten. In the morning, early on, the chance of a parole hearing being successful for the potential parolee was about 65% and went down from there.
After lunchtime though, it went back up to about 65%, and then started to slide down again. The researchers eliminated a lot of other factors, and are convinced that even judges are prone to unconscious factors like that that affect their decision making no matter how experienced they are. They believe that as the judges lose fuel, they run out of as much caloric energy, and make quicker decisions without thinking as much about the details. And since parolees can be particularly dangerous, this means a quick decision usually leads to them erring on the side of caution, and saying no to releasing the prisoner. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are more likely to make nicer decisions when they are full, but rather that they are more likely to pay attention to detail, and take their time, instead of making a snap judgment that is as safe as possible until they can nourish themselves again.
Fact: Answer People’s Rhetoric Or Unfinished Sentences In Ways That Shape The Conversation
Sometimes people will use a rhetorical device where they leave a thought open ended, but obviously meant and expected a specific answer. Perhaps they are about to say something that particularly annoys them, and if they know the person well, they often get the answer they seek. However, sometimes the rhetorical device is answered by something unexpected, and they are left embarrassingly trying to say “well, that too, but what I was talking about was X”.
This can be awkward for both parties involved, and can make them feel like maybe they should have just been more specific to begin with. However, if you are attempting to influence someone, you can use this as an opportunity when they leave things open ended (you can also jump in if they leave a sentence unfinished as a rhetorical device). You can now drop in something you would like them to think about, or believe, in a way that makes it seem like a logical conclusion to what they said, almost like it came from their mouth. And, as long as you only do it after an incomplete rhetorical device you cannot really be seen as interrupting or rude, and they have no way of knowing you consciously chose a different tack than they expected.
Fact: When Someone Uses Strategic Incompetence, Offer To Teach Them; Be Overly Solicitous
In the modern world, although it probably had ancient equivalents, there is a behavior that has been described as “strategic incompetence”. In essence, when it comes time to do something unpleasant that the person doesn’t enjoy, they claim that they are really, really bad at it, and that really, it would be best that someone else do it instead as they would just mess it up—and besides, they really don’t know what they are doing anyway and it would be too hard to learn.
This will often come up with things like dishes, or laundry and such. Instead of trying to force someone, or get in their face about it, act like you understand the problem, and you are trying to fix it. The problem, of course, is that they “don’t know how to do it”, so offer to teach them, and if they act like that is too hard, start telling them how to do it, step by step, and lay it on thick by talking about how hard it was for you at first, but how you eventually got it, and that it isn’t really that hard in the end. One way or the other, they may want to make it stop.
Fact: Praise Them For Who You Want Them To Be, And The Attributes You Want From Them
One of the most important things in influencing people is to be positive, and encourage people to be the best version of themselves. Now, this doesn’t mean you should actually lie. Don’t praise someone for something they haven’t actually done, or good behavior they don’t actually display. And, if you lay things on too thick, you may be too obvious and quickly get nowhere fast. Instead, this is something you have to be in for the long haul. Ignore negative statements and actions whenever they are small enough to let slide. However, acknowledge all behaviors that are consciously positive attributes and actions on the part of the person in question.
Don’t expect them to change super quick, but focus on the positive stuff you want to see. It could start small, over time, but if they continually feel reinforced for being kind, punctual, generous, and all those other good things, they will feel more desire to continue doing so, and less desire to act in a negative way. No matter what, humans are very social creatures and we crave attention. If bad behavior isn’t getting any oxygen, it often doesn’t have the strength to continue. Just work to light a small flame, and keep it lit at first, then work very slowly on growing it over time.
Fact: Sometimes, Doing Absolutely Nothing Is The Best Way To Influence Someone
This goes along with something we sort of talked about above, and that is how sometimes you need to just ignore things, or do nothing at all. Now, if someone says or does something bad enough to you or others, you often have to just stand up to it. However, if someone is just doing small things that aren’t particularly positive, especially if they aren’t particularly habitual in nature, sometimes just ignoring the bad and not giving them that attention they seek, can make a big difference. Sometimes people who are being negative are really just crying out for attention, and you must not give it to them in this manner, or it reinforces the wrong behavior and teaches the wrong lessons.
Sometimes these people may find little interest in you if you won’t give them the attention they seek for their negative behavior, but that just means all the more that you must not let them learn the wrong thing. If enough people simply stop responding to negative behavior, or seeking to rekindle friendships with those who behave in a negative manner, the person has the best chance of realizing that they are not being right to others, and they need to reconsider their behavior. Giving people chances when you shouldn’t, and getting angry or actively engaging too much with negativity will often just bring you down, and make the person who is being unkind think they can just keep on how they have been. Sometimes, doing nothing is the hardest thing of all, but there are times when it is the best move to make.
Fact: If You Want People To Open Up To You, Strategically Open Up About Yourself
Getting someone else to open up to you can be quite hard. Some people can know you for years and never really open up that deeply, then, one day, for some reason some detail comes out and you feel like you hardly even knew them to begin with. This is because people go through a lot of things in life, and many people have had horrible or difficult experiences. These things can make them really vulnerable, and sometimes even thinking about them can reopen traumatic emotional wounds, and upset people of a normally strong mental constitution. For this reason, people can be really closed off, even those you thought were more “open”.
However, this doesn’t mean people are a closed book. While this does require some give and take, and some vulnerability on your part, the best trick to get the deeper details and understanding about a person’s life, is to share more about yourself. If you are willing to make yourself vulnerable, and share your toughest and darkest experiences, you will find that others are more comfortable going ahead and opening their vulnerabilities up to you. Emotional stories and experiences can be something that someone can use against you, so by first showing you trust them, and are willing to take off your armor first, you can make a big difference in getting the most closed people to tell you things about themselves you never thought you would get out of them.
Fact: Make Them Think Your Thought Process Is Similar, They Will Trust Your Ideas More
There are two tricks in one here. To start with, the most important way to do this is to be an active listener, and it is one of the best ways to influence people. If you literally listen to what they have to say, and actively respond to what they said with more than just a “mhmm”, or “oh yeah, right!”, then people will really feel like they are connecting to you. Once they do feel like they are actually being paid attention to, you can use this next trick, which helps bridge that gap even further between two humans. Now, we want to be clear we aren’t suggesting you change your thought process for anyone, or pretend it is different just to trick someone. Instead, what we are suggesting is looking for common ground in the way someone else thinks, and see how you can emphasize this.
Obviously, people tend to trust their own thinking, so they are more likely to trust someone who thinks similarly to how they do. So, all you have to do is be an active listener, and look for moments where you can point out how your thought process is similar to theirs by naturally engaging in the conversation in a way that highlights your sameness with them. The more you do this over time, the more they will feel you are someone much more like them, and this means your suggestions to them about life, the universe and everything, will have a lot more weight to them in their mind.
Fact: If You Are Trying To Disprove Something Ask Lots Of Questions; Say It’s For Clarification
One mistake people make constantly when trying to argue anything with anyone, is they actually try to argue. This immediately puts most people on the defensive, and this in turn makes them much less likely to critically listen to what you have to say to them. Instead of being confrontational, and trying to argue back your point, or disagree directly with what they say, become the master of asking “clarifying” questions. Ask them lots of questions about the point they are making, but try to make it sound like you just want to understand better, and not like you are trying to prove them wrong.
If their position is truly not sound, and they are not an entirely stubborn and hopeless person, and they are smart enough to suss it out given enough time, asking clarifying questions may not have an immediate effect (although it might), but it will help them question their position, and honestly go over why it really doesn’t make sense, without them feeling like you were trying to put them down, attack them, or “beat them” in some other way. Especially with men, these techniques can be very useful, as males put even more of an emphasis on pride, and will often get defensive to the point of pigheadedness when challenged, even though when held up to the magnifying glass, they would normally be smart enough to see that their idea or argument simply didn’t hold any water.
Fact: Remember That You Cannot Change Anyone, You Can Only Slightly Influence Their Decisions
While we did mention how you can slowly influence someone to be a little bit more positive over time, the truth is that for the most part you are not going to “change” anyone. People are incredibly complicated, and all have their own unique experiences and their own unique worldviews, built up over years of human interactions and learning all kinds of things (sometimes slightly or largely differently than you learned them). And, by the time they are an adult, they are mostly who they are going to be, barring some major life epiphany, or taking a badly needed medication or something of that sort.
And if they have some epiphany, or realize they did need some kind of drug, or come to the conclusion that they need to change, it almost certainly isn’t because you browbeat or tricked them into it. As long as someone isn’t truly toxic, but just has faults like the rest of us, we aren’t saying their faults cannot be slowly improved over time, but don’t expect to cure them of them completely. Instead, just focus on slowly influencing their decisions for the better. The more positive, kind and responsible decisions they make, the better a person they will be over time. They will still fundamentally be them though, and if you want to be friends or romantic partners, the most important thing you can do is accept that person as someone special in your life, and enjoy all the positive things about your friendship and celebrate why you do enjoy being around them.
Fact: Positivity Is Most Important—Those Who Feel You Like Them Will Want To Do Things For You
The most important thing you can do to influence those close to you, or get them to do things for you, is to truly be their friend. And the most important part of being a friend is simply liking the other person, being kind and spending time connecting with them in some way and being there for them when they need it. Don’t be a friend just because it was a friendship of convenience, when there is nothing there. Be friends with people you truly, truly enjoy being around. If you can honestly say that no matter what faults they have, overall you enjoy being around them and think them a good person, show it with your actions, words and every other way you show your love.
We aren’t saying you should ever be a doormat, just be a normal, kind person, respect your friends, and be friends with those you naturally like, and for whom it easily shows. If a person believes you truly like and care about them, that makes you much more important to them, and it makes them like you more too. This makes them more likely than anything to consider you influential in their life, and consider your advice. In the end, it is all give and take. If people feel you are more invested in them, they will feel more invested in you, and you have a spiral of friendship, respect and mutual trust.
As a final word, why not show Listverse you love us as much as we love you by telling us your own experiences of getting what you want through cunning means in the comments below! You’re the best!