Dear Friends,

Happy New Year from True Development! We hope 2015 is your best year ever!

Now, I have a question for you.

What do you think of when you think of the word “influence” or it’s close cousin “persuasion”?

If these words make you think of using relationships and power to gain an advantage or using tricks to get people to say YES when they should say NO, then you aren’t alone.

Influence or persuasion is often equated with manipulation for two reasons:

1.           Influence techniques, when applied correctly, really do work.

2.          Some people DO use them to trick others into doing things that aren’t in their best interest.

It’s clear that manipulation for purely selfish reasons is evil. It’s also difficult to sustain if the person being manipulated has a normal amount of common sense, because most people figure out they are being manipulated, sooner or later.

In business, the most successful influence or persuasion techniques over the long term are based on the ideal of achieving an ethical win-win outcome.

At True Development, we spend a lot of time working with people to increase their success rate when ethically influencing other people.  There are a number of tactics, methods, and techniques that help people become more successful, highly ethical influencers in their organizations. I’ll discuss a few of them here.

Push and Pull Tactics

There are two primary tactical approaches to take when influencing another person: Push and Pull.

Pushtactics rely on successfully convincing another person to agree and take action by using either aPressure-driven approach or a Logic-driven approach.

The Pressure-driven approach is often used by people who have some kind of authority (e.g. managers, teachers, military officers) to obtain compliance and overcome internal resistance. It often utilizes reward and punishment as the primary motivator. The key message is: “You have to do this.”

The Logic-driven approach relies on data, facts, numbers, and evidence. It is the “technical” approach to influence. If the listener likes the analytical approach and appreciates its use in that situation, it can be very successful if the data is solid.

Pulltactics are “softer.” They rely on successfully attracting the other person to say YES. If successful, pull tactics usually result in a deeper commitment to doing what was agreed. The two most common Pull methods used are Inspiration-Driven approach and the Collaboration-driven approach.

The Inspiration-driven approach is used by truly charismatic or passionate people to attract and motivate others to take action. Think of a famous public speaker, like Alibaba’s Jack Ma, or former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. They invite people to buy into their vision, and people do, willingly.

The Collaboration-driven approach seeks to build a bridge between two parties. Its key message is: “Let’s create a win-win solution here.” This approach requires unselfishness and empathy, and is supported by a willingness and ability to discover a better way to work together.  People tend to be very committed to agreements made through collaboration.

There are, of course, dozens of variations on these four styles. For example, sometimes you might appeal to the relationship (“Friend, I need help here.”). This is a variation of the Collaboration-driven approach, i.e. we’ve build a mutually respectful relationship over time, so it’s okay to do each other favors, and ask for favors.

Robert Cialdini’s Six Weapons of Influence

Other than Push and Pull tactics, there are many other ways to increase your influence success rate. These include empathy tools, techniques for adapting to style, creative collaboration tools, silo-busting techniques, and lots of good neuroscience-based tactics.

One of the most well-researched influence tools is Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Six Weapons of Influence. He published an article outlining them in the October 2001 edition of Harvard Business Review called “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.” You can find that article here:

For a deeper look at Dr. Cialdini’s research and the Six Weapons, we recommend his book Influence: The Science of Persuasion.


You can find it in English here:

And here is a link to an infographic we created at True Development to summarize the Six Weapons in Chinese:


People often ask me in training programs what they can do to improve their personal effectiveness. My standard answer is this: “Practice empathy every day. And learn as much as you can about how to influence and persuade other people. These two things will do more to improve your life and increase your effectiveness than anything else.”

Yours in learning,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *