Influence: Mastering Life’s Most Powerful Skill
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Influence and persuasion aren’t just abstract concepts of interest exclusive to psychologists and sociologists. Rather, they’re a fundamental part of your everyday life. Whether you realize it or not, you’re constantly surrounded by people and groups trying to influence the way you think, act, and feel.
But you don’t have to let influence just happen to you. Instead of merely following the will of others, you can actively take charge of your decisions—and your life—by grasping the science behind how influence works and by strengthening your own skills at influence and persuasion. And whether you’re in the corporate boardroom or at the family dinner table, you’ll find yourself reaping a wealth of rewards when it comes to the myriad ways you interact with other people and groups on a daily basis.
To master the art and craft of influence, the most powerful skill a person in 21st-century society can have, is to
- vastly increase your chances of achieving your particular goals, both at work and at home;
- strengthen your ability to persuade supervisors, coworkers, family members, and others that your opinions are the right ones;
- enhance the effectiveness with which you negotiate, shop, speak to groups, and engage in other activities; and
- protect yourself from the machinations of con artists and others who would use the tools of influence to your detriment.
Now, in Influence: Mastering Life’s Most Powerful Skill, discover everything you need to tap into the hidden powers of influence and persuasion—and use them to enhance your personal and professional life in ways you never thought possible. Delivered by award-winning Professor Kenneth G. Brown of The University of Iowa, an expert in management and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, these 12 lectures will teach you in clear and accessible language how and why influence works. Packed with eye-opening scientific and sociological experiments, case studies from fields including business and politics, practical exercises to test your skills, and more, this course will show you how to harness the power of influence at home, at work, at the store, in your social life, and anywhere else you may need it.
Learn the Foundation of How to Influence
Your ability to successfully influence others—including your children, your spouse, or your boss—is rooted in how well you can grasp and use the four fundamental components of any influence attempt. To help you, Professor Brown introduces what he calls the ATTiC model, which represents these four elements.
- Agents: These are the individuals or groups who are doing the influencing. What makes them so successful? What makes them fail? You’ll see how the seemingly magical ability to win people over involves specific characteristics such as physical appearance, charisma, trustworthiness, and membership in a shared group.
- Targets: The individual or group you’re hoping to influence is called your target—and some people and groups are more likely to be persuaded (or tricked) than others. One characteristic that may surprise you: age. Studies show that targets who are young adults or older adults are more prone to being easily influenced than others.
- Tactics: What methods and strategies of influence are more likely to increase your target’s chances of commitment? Professor Brown’s insights into influential tactics provide you with numerous tools, including rational persuasion, which involves putting forth specific ideas for why a particular course of action is the best way forward.
- Context: Contextual clues—such as scarcity of goods and the power of authority—are shortcuts that our brain uses to make sense of our social world and to make what are generally quite good decisions. You’ll learn which of these psychological processes are under our control and which aren’t.
More than just a helpful acronym, the “ATTiC” model is the perfect metaphor for just how powerful (and often overlooked) these components are. “The four factors are much like the attic of a house,” Professor Brown notes. “It’s always there doing what it does, even when no one thinks about it. In the same way, the factors that make us susceptible to influence are built into our basic psychology.”
Discover Where—And How—Inluence Works
From there, you’ll explore some of the many scientific and real-world applications of influence in your everyday life. With the aid of eye-opening research on psychology and sociology, historical examples from politics and business, and several in-depth case studies, you’ll get solid guidelines and tips for how to become a more influential person—and how to resist influence attempts when it’s in your best interests to do so.
With his vivid teaching style, Professor Brown shows you how influence operates in several areas of life you may or may not have considered, such as these:
- Impression management, which involves constructing and cultivating your own personal “brand” to strengthen your influential authority at work
- Sales, where the best tactics to increase your chances of getting a sale (and a better tip) include being genuinely interested in others, remembering names, and, easiest of all, smiling
- Negotiation, where it’s important to use influence not just to get what you want but to make sure you and your negotiating partner feel satisfied that the results are fair
- Public speaking, where big business speeches or small family pep talks can benefit from a focus on the positives and a demonstration of good will toward your audience.
You’ll also get an expert’s insights into the ethics surrounding influence, and how you can use these extraordinary tools to responsibly further your goals without becoming Machiavellian.
Practical Applications for a Practical Skill
“Influence is a practical topic,” notes Professor Brown, adding that “you’ll find many opportunities to apply what I present in this course to your everyday routines and interactions.”
To do so, each lecture concludes with a couple of simple exercises and tasks that will help illuminate what you’ve learned about influence and will increase your confidence in using the tools of successful influencers.
- Next time you’re at a restaurant, learn your server’s name and use it when addressing him or her. Also, make sure to smile. See if these efforts affect the quality of the service you receive.
- When you enter a negotiation where you hope for mutual agreement, use words like “we” and “us” and see whether it creates a difference in the other party’s approach to the deal.
- When someone you don’t know tries to gain your confidence, adopt the Russian proverb of “trust but verify” by double-checking his or her story against an additional source.
These and other exercises are just a small part of the overall learning experience you’ll get from Professor Brown, a management expert whose ability to teach to a range of audiences—from college students to corporate professionals to laypeople—has won him a wealth of awards and accolades, including The University of Iowa’s highest teaching honor: the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence.
His lectures will enlighten you, challenge you, inspire you, and possibly even transform you into a savvier participant in the often overlooked ways that everyday life influences us. With the insights, tools, and tips in Influence: Mastering Life’s Most Powerful Skill, you’ll be able to use influence on behalf of any professional or personal goal, or for any cause that is near and dear to your heart.
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