Six Ways to Influence and Their Outcomes
When our son was barely five years old, he was a shy child who lived by his own timetable. He had his own ways of doing things. If you wanted his attention, your best bet was to make eye contact and simply explain what you what you had to say.
It was during that year, that his grandparents came to visit us in Austin. Together as a family, we planned several outings to enjoy the city and our favorite restaurants. One evening, the whole group was getting ready to go dinner and our son was still playing — not getting ready. This circumstance stressed out three of four adults in his company. Suddenly one, then two, then all three of them were using loud firm voices to tell a child, half their size, to “Get upstairs to change in to clean clothes, immediately!!”
The child froze like a deer in the headlights.
The mom in me responded with like to like. In firm and loud voice, I said, “Who are you to gang up on a little kid like that? Get away from here!”
The three adults moved into the kitchen and spoke quietly to each other.
I took the little boy by the hand. “I said let’s go upstairs and find what you’ll wear to dinner.”
When we came downstairs ready to go to dinner, I walked into the kitchen and apologized for my outburst. In return I got three calm apologies that also said I was right to intervene on the child’s behalf.
Not every attempt at influence gets the outcome we’re going for.
Which Actions Achieve the Outcomes You Seek?
If we can agree that influence is some word or deed that changes behavior. Then plenty of influence occurred in the story I just related. I suspect that had I been privy to the whole scene in the kitchen I would have found that that single story included examples of confrontation, persuasion, conversion, participation, and collaboration. The only thing missing in this family scene would be true antagonism. Six different approaches to influence which lead to entirely different outcomes.
I’ve been reading about, thinking about, and talking to people about influence for months, because influence and trust are integral understanding to loyalty relationships. Let’s take a look at six of the usual forms of influence and the outcomes that result from them.
- Antagonism – provokes thought Your values are everything I believe is wrong with the world. You can’t stomach anything that I stand for. We are not competitors. We are enemies at war. Your words and actions might provoke thoughts and deeds, but what I’m thinking is how wrong you are, how to thwart you, or if I have no power, how to hide my true thoughts and feelings. An order from an enemy can influence a behavior but won’t change my thinking.
- Confrontation – causes a reaction You say it’s black. I know it’s white. I respond in some way — I fight back. I run away. I consciously ignore you. My response will probably change based who is more powerful. You might overpower me. I might stop responding, but it’s unlikely that you will actually change my thinking. Confrontation leads people to build a defense, to strength their own arguments.
- Persuasion – changes thinking You look at me and think about how what you want might benefit me. Rather than telling me, you show me how easy, fast, or meaningful it is go along with you. You’ve changed my about what you’re doing. I now see your actions from a new point of view.
- Conversion – moves to an action Your invitation to action is so convincing and beneficial to my own goals that I do what you ask. You’ve influenced my behavior to meet your goal. You have won my trust and commitment to an action. It’s not certain I’ll stay converted.
- Participation – attracts heroes, ideas, and sharing You reach out with conversation. We find that we are intrigued by the same ideas, believe in the same values, and share the same goals. Your investment in the relationship builds my trust and return investment. You invite me to join you in something you’re building. My limited participation raises my investment, gives me a feeling of partial ownership, and moves me to talk about you, your goals, and what we’re doing together.
- Collaboration – builds loyalty relationships We develop a working relationship in which you rely on my viewpoint. We share ideas and align our goals to build something together that we can’t build alone. You believe in my value to your project. I believe in the value of what you’re building. You have gained my loyalty and commitment. I feel a partnership that leads me to protect and evangelize the joint venture. I bring my friends to help.
Not every campaign or customer situation will need to move to collaboration. But understanding each level will help us manage expectations allowing us to move naturally and predictably from confrontation to persuasion, so that we don’t expect the loyalty of collaboration from a momentary conversion.
Could be useful when looking to connect with that special valentine too.
How might you use the hierarchy to change the way you manage your business, your brand, your community, and your new business initiatives?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!
Karen Putz says
I’m going to be thinking about this today when I work with my customers– very interesting the way you have it broken down!
I like to think that I use persuasion, conversion and collaboration with every customer– my goal is to build relationships that keep my customers loyal to our services.
ME Liz Strauss says
I’ve reading, thinking about, and watching this for months and I realize that confrontation and controversy rarely work in our favor to change how people feel in their hearts. We might shake them up, but we end up making them dig in further.
I’m sure you’re great that the persuasion part. 🙂
El Edwards says
Have you read Robert Cialdini’s “Psychology of Persuasion”? He tells of an experiment where children were told not to touch a particular toy.
As your list above intimates, the children who were threatened with punishment should they touch the toy when the adult’s back was turned altered their behaviour, but only for the duration of the grown-ups visit.
A second group were given ownership of the situation (collaboration) and their actions were transformed as a result, regardless of whether the adult was around or not.
ME Liz Strauss says
I wish I understood more of this when I was younger. Life would have moved with some more ease. heh heh
It feels like there is at least a #7 out there beyond Collaboration. And that is simply Gift. The giving away of a boon without necessity of response. It can lead to collaboration, but it can also just lead to the empowerment of another, perhaps the best outcome sought.
ME Liz Strauss says
I see gift and all generosity as something that comes before collaboration … as the bridge between confrontation and persuasion a gift is really something that aligns our goals and when freely given shows people how it’s to their benefit to open up a bit to listen. Gifts connect in ways that make persuasion a possibility. That’s where I would put it.
Andy @ FirstFound says
Hey, shouting does work in some cases!
John McNally says
It’s not too often I come across something that is new to me, but you’ve achieved it here. This was very interesting.
The only other hierarchy I know about is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you put them both together it explains a lot of human behaviour.
Like I said, very interesting.
Leamington Spa, England
See El got there first! Was just about to mention Robert Cialdini’s wonderful book, probably the most famous on Influence in Social Psychology. I have no seen this model before.
Antagonism is used by artists a lot in Music Videos I notice, to really get ‘at’ people to open their minds to new thinking.
Gail Gardner says
Very interested hierachy chart. Most people engage in power struggles every day because they get invested in what they want and fail to ask what the other person is trying to accomplish which may be very different than what they say the want.
A negotiating skills class IBM sent me to years ago taught that often the people involved can all have what they want, but they’re too busy thinking they have to win to notice that what each wants to achieve is not mutually exclusive.
It also pointed out that to be an effective negotiator you must not get invested in a specific position because then the negotiations can get stuck around polarized positions that ARE mutually exclusive.
Instead of arguing for what you want, focus on understanding what the other person is actually seeking which is often different than what they say they want. For example, they may say they only want to pay $X but what they really want is positive cashflow.
As long as you say I want $2x and they say I will only pay $1x you will never come to an agreement. If instead you offer 3x ROI for $2x you may close the deal.
Another negotiating class talked about having a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) BEFORE you start negotiating. In other words, under what conditions are you willing to walk away from the deal.
I regularly turn down clients or refuse to sign unconscionable agreements. I can tell by their responses that they are not used to that happening. When more people stand by their ethical standards we can build a better world together.
Alison Voyvodich says
Great post Liz, and something I just blogged about myself for the multifamily industry. The power of our influence is everywhere in business and in our personal lives and I like your Hierarchy of Influence events. My blog was a little more lighthearted and I will share it with you here: http://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/home/multifamily-blogs/myblog-admin/influence-is-contagious.html
@liz I like see it there where you put it. I do agree that gift is quite a bit related to persuasion, and part of this is the way in which gift giving projects a confidence of wealth (not just $$$, but wealth of knowledge, or position, or spirit, whatever you are generous with).
There is also another aspect of gift giving that I find interesting. Anthropologist David Graeber notes that Gift economies ( “primitive” economies different than monetary economies) are those that produce ties that bind, lasting relationships that assume their own perpetuation. The equivalent exchange of x for y at fair market price can actually act as the sign of the “end” of the relationship, rather than its foundation, it puts a defined limit on what can or will be exchanged. The “gift” opens up what is possible through its very asymmetry. Even though we are definitely a monetary culture, there are also very strong “gift economy” relationships within it, rooting it, and to a strong degree these are expressed in Social Media.
Sorry for the long comment but you got me thinking.
Aaron Strout says
Liz – you are such a good story teller. Love this post. Thanks for sharing.
Liz, the story you relate in this post is a powerful example of what works (and doesn’t) in all kinds of relationships! Seems I learned the different kinds of influence by parenting four children with personalities as opposite as points on a compass. Taking those principles into how to relate to others in an extended family or business relationships is a mark of maturity. I especially appreciate the Hierarchy of Influence chart and wondering if its possible to borrow it on my blog, or perhaps link to you? You express these principles so clearly, and I think my readers would appreciate it!
Very interesting- thanks for the info! I definately can put this into use when working with co-workers to get them working towards the same organizational goal.