How to convince a political opponent? How to sell more? How to be a competent leader? The author Tali Sharot answers these and other questions in her book, "The Influential Mind", based on the art and science of influence.
The power of influence has been investigated for centuries, from ancient political and rhetorical treaties to the present day.
You may never have thought about it, but the ability to influence people comes from human nature and we do it all the time. The problem is that there are situations where we use the wrong strategies and, instead of attracting and conquering, we end up giving reasons for other people to resist us.
In this PocketBook, you will discover what influence is and the importance of this skill in our everyday interpersonal relationships.
Keep reading this summary!
In the work "The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others" the author Tali Sharot relates personal experiences that aroused scientific curiosity about the way we influence each other, as well as how this capacity can be optimized.
It was selected as the best work of 2017 by the media, winning the British Psychological Society literary award in 2018.
Tali Sharot holds a Ph. D. in cognitive neuroscience and is a professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of London, as well as being the founder and director of the Affective Brain Lab at the same institution.
With a background in both Psychology and Economics, she began her professional life in the financial market, but soon started to devote herself to research. Her academic investigations range from the neurological aspects of emotion to the internal decision-making processes and the roots of optimism.
Her previous book, "The Optimism Bias", was the subject of a presentation at TED Talks, one of the most renowned lecture cycles on the planet. She frequently writes articles for renowned media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and BBC.
The book "The Influential Mind" is indicated for professionals, undergraduate and postgraduate students from business, society and psychology areas, scientists, specialists, managers, and executives who seek to use their human capacities - among them influence - to achieve better results in all aspects of life.
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Great leaders and statesmen seem to have a supernatural ability to influence millions of people, guide them in their decisions, and win their support on a variety of issues - for better or worse.
However, influencing others is something we do naturally. A father who raises his son according to his culture and precepts knows exactly how to do it, establishing rewards and punishments. In the workplace, where relationships are more delicate, a good leader knows how to get the best out of the team.
As explained by author Tali Sharot in her book "The Influential Mind", the problem is that, in certain situations, we use flawed strategies. We confront beliefs, point out moral defects, and we don't know when to give up control.
The good news is that a change of approach is enough to get others to do what you ask.
Instinctively, during a discussion or debate, we attack the other side trying to prove why the other is wrong and we are right. This attack is often duly based on logical arguments and data that confirm our beliefs.
In the book "The Influential Mind" it is emphasized that we are not always used to favor decisions guided by the logic of data.
Simply accessing information can, instead of helping to influence and change thinking, serve as fuel for the confirmation of previous beliefs and hence polarize the debate.
Thus, presenting arguments that contradict someone's beliefs leads them to seek arguments that reinforce their original thinking, a phenomenon called the "boomerang effect".
In other words, the availability of information and easy access to it make people more resistant to change, forming beliefs according to what they believe in, using four ingredients to structure them:
For the author Tali Sharot, emotion is the main vehicle for transmitting ideas from one mind to another, which can be proven with an experiment carried out with spectators during a lecture.
While the audience listened carefully to the words and observed the speaker's gestures, their brains functioned as if they were one; brain activity increased and decreased in perfect sync.
Tali Sharot explains in the book "The Influential Mind", that this synchrony happened in the areas responsible for creating associations, emotions, and empathy, something that happens because the brains of all human beings react more or less in the same way to the stimuli associated with feelings.
In a state of emotional alignment with the speaker, the listener tends to process information in the same way, having the same view of the facts, something that makes emotion a strong ally in the transmission of ideas.
The reward-punishment binomial plays an important role in the mechanisms of influence. The author Tali Sharot affirms it is natural to seek good experiences and avoid pain and punishment.
Thus, the use of threats or negative reinforcements for people to adopt certain behavior has a limited effect. Studies show that positive feedback ensures better alignment and a more lasting effect on the message.
Still on this concept, we tend to get closer to facts, people and items with which we are familiar, seeking to distance ourselves from those that seem strange or harmful to us, according to the book "The Influential Mind".
So, to encourage someone to take immediate action, the best strategy is to generate an expectation of reward.
On the other hand, if the intention is to discourage someone else from doing something, warning about the unintended consequences can bring more results than offering rewards.
Tali Sharot explains that control relates to influence. When people let themselves be influenced, they are giving control to another. And usually, loss of control in any situation causes anxiety and discomfort.
In turn, instrumentality refers to the capacity for individual action and decision. When a person notices that they have lost instrumentality, they tend to resist. When they believe they are more useful than before, they become more cooperative.
Thus, an efficient way to influence collective and individual attitudes is to give people a greater sense of performance in the results. That way, they have a greater perception of control, since it motivates them.
As it is highlighted in the book "The Influential Mind", the sense of control and instrumentality makes people, demonstrably, happier, and healthier.
And to use this resource in order to increase your influence, just give people a greater sense of responsibility, which is true for any aspect of life, be it family or professional.
That way, when you are in control, the brain rewards you with the feeling of fullness and satisfaction, but we must beware of the addiction this can cause us.
After all, people who have difficulty giving up control, even in matters beyond their domain, can accumulate negative practical results, reducing their power of influence, although they continue to satisfy their need, indicates the author Tali Sharot.
People have a natural interest in obtaining information, even if it's not useful to them or serves as a basis for a possible choice at any given time, says the author Tali Sharot. The absence of information causes discomfort while providing information ensures satisfaction.
Informational need, explains Tali Sharot, is an instinct as primitive as the search for water, food, and sex. This is due to the fact that information is also necessary for survival, since it helps us to make better decisions.
The researcher brings important information obtained in scientific studies to show the importance of information in the influence. For people to be motivated, it's not just about getting rewards or avoiding pain. It is enough for them to believe that they will get the reward or avoid the pain.
In the realm of influence, the practical effect is that when a positive message is expected, people tend to listen. On the other hand, if they sense that unpleasant information is on the way, they are more likely to ignore the information.
According to the book "The Influential Mind", all of this is true when the interlocutor is in a stable emotional state. Under stress and intimidation, the brain behaves differently when it comes to acquiring information.
Under threat, people suffer a natural body reaction, stress, which makes them more susceptible to assimilate danger signs and, therefore, negative news.
Despite being a response to a wild environment, stress can turn into collective hysteria, impacting finances, the social environment, and business.
People under stress focus on how things can go wrong and take a conservative stance, making decisions that may not be the best, remembering that fear, stress, and anxiety lead to paralysis.
To escape the influence of stress, the author Tali Sharot recommends in her book "The Influential Mind" that the individual consciously work on his or her attention and direct it to other aspects of the situation.
No matter how hard people try to reinforce and reaffirm their individuality, they are the product of social learning to which they are subjected from the moment of birth.
In this way, social learning can be a valuable tool of influence, a way to introduce a message or behavior in a positive way to people.
In turn, as it is stated in the book "The Influential Mind", other people's choices influence, often decisively, our own.
This is because the brain interprets the decision of others as a good model to be followed; that is, if it is good for the other, it is good for me. This information is stored and retrieved when the time comes for us to decide.
According to the author Tali Sharot, the mirroring of decisions, opinions, and evaluations has a strong impact on society. The referral system on social networking sites and reviews on sales sites like Amazon are just a few examples of how social learning is an ingrained custom.
Another important factor is that people observe both the decisions of others and the consequences of those decisions. As a result, rewarding behaviors considered good and punishing the undesirable has an effect not only on an individual but on everyone who observes.
The author Tali Sharot states that, even before each person forms an opinion on a certain event, the interaction itself plays an important role in collective decisions.
As indicated in the book "The Influential Mind", in our society, individuals are naturally interdependent, so that individual decisions always have a social component.
However, it is possible to reduce this interdependence so as not to make the same mistakes that people made unanimously.
For this, it is important to analyze the same fact, or offer, days or even weeks before making the final decision, to observe several times, and to decide by averaging one's own analyzes.
If time is not available, you can analyze the situation twice in a shorter time span, combine them and close the question, advises Tali Sharot.
Thus, there are two phenomena in the human brain that result in mistaken unanimity. The first is the tendency for the brain itself to produce unconscious biases; the second is the aforementioned social learning.
Basically, this means that a majority is formed around an irrational premise and the intuition of the others makes them follow the majority, undermining the contradictory. In this way, many ideas that were once common and accepted in the past are largely rejected today.
According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, in his book "Influence: Science and Practice", everyone uses influence and is a target for it. He explains that persuasion practitioners know exactly what they want and where to go, so they use six psychological principles, covered in his book, to achieve their goals.
In the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People", Dale Carnegie also talks about compliments as a way to influence: One of the strongest characteristics of human behavior is the desire to be valued by others; we all like to receive compliments and hear that we are doing a good job.
Finally, Ricardo Ventura's book "How to Manipulate & Persuade Thousands of People", provides some tips on mental triggers that can be used in persuasion.
Now that you have finally understood the power of influence, leave a comment below sharing your opinion about Tali Sharot's lessons!
And to learn even more about it, you can buy the book by clicking on the image below: