Last week in Part 1 we talked about the need for rapport, and how crucial it is to foster it and use it to create influence networks that we can leverage to get things done, collect intelligence, or simply to have people available who can help you when you need it.. The next logical question is “How, exactly, do I influence others?” That’s what we’ll be talking about today. There are six tools—weapons of influence, as they’re known—that you can use to build influence in your relationships with other patriots, in your groups, and even with sources and assets.
Many of you may be familiar with Dr. Robert Cialdini and his principles of influence. If you are, then this will be a great refresher tailored to the individual patriot. If you’ve never heard of any of this, that’s even better–we’ll give you a fantastic overview. The CIA calls it RASCLS, and that’s the context we’ll be studying it in. Keep in mind that this is literally just an overview. We’ll get into each of the skills individually and how you can use them in later parts of this series.
(Note: I’ll use the word “target” in this article, but it’s not a negative connotation. In tis context, it’s simply meant to denote whoever you’re using it on.)
How It Works: If you’ve ever approached a set of double doors and a stranger opened the door for you, what did you do upon reaching that second door? You probably held that one open for them. That’s reciprocity—the deep-seated reflex to do something for someone after they’re done something for you. Someone who is using reciprocity for influence ‘goes first’ by offering something to the other person, or by doing something for them. The best part is, Cialdini points out that there is not a single human demographic or culture where this principle is not used.
How It Works: People are more apt to do as you ask if they perceive that you are in a position of authority. This principle is why CIA case officers or interrogators often attribute greater powers to themselves than they actually have (“I can help/protect/harm your family,” etc.). One of the most classic examples of this principle at work was the Milgrim Experiment, in which regular people (65% of the participants in the study) were found to be perfectly willing to administer painful and even lethal electrical shocks to victims if told to by someone who they perceived as an authority figure. Obviously, within that study the “victims” were actors, and the shocks were not real, but during the experiment the people administering the shocks did think it was real, and believed they were operating in a live environment. Even though the “victims” were heard screaming, begging for the shocks to stop, if told by the “authority figure” to keep administering them, the participants would continue to do so. (More can be found on the Milgrim experiment here.)
How It Works: This principle can be summed up very simply. People want what they cannot have. If you make something scarce, you’ve just ensured that people will want it even more. Imagine a real estate agent showing a house; if she says, “Better hurry, I have another buyer coming to look at the house later today,” chances are that you’ll be at least a bit more tempted to act. Rare things are valuable things, and people tend to (wrongfully) equate expense with value. This can be leveraged in a number of ways.
Commitment and Consistency
Society tends to value people who are consistent. Those who change their opinions or action patterns frequently—such as politicians whose positions vacillate—are viewed as untrustworthy. We don’t want to be seen as untrustworthy, and so often when we make a decision, we tend to want to stick to it once it’s made. In addition, studies have shown that if the decision in question is made publicly, it’s that much harder for us to change it later. Getting someone to commit to something—and publicly if possible—increases the chance that they will follow through on what they’ve said. Unless, of course, they just got reelected.
It’s a basic precept that people are more apt to do as you ask, to help you or give you something you need, if they genuinely like you. Sometimes we have the time to build a relationship and foster the trust and genuine liking that we need in order to get what we need. Sometimes, we don’t. In those instances, we need to rely on slightly more artificial ways of creating that trust. These ‘timesavers,’ so to speak, do not need to be dishonest. It can be something as innocent as knowing beforehand that you have something in common, and bringing that particular thing up early in the conversation to establish rapport. Later in the series we’ll talk more in detail about how to leverage this particular weapon of influence. For now, just be aware that getting people to like you will get you a lot further than not.
The last one we’ll tackle is Social Proof, which when broken down into its parts, basically means that people often look to their peers or ‘the crowd’ to gain validation for something they’re doing or thinking, especially when they’re in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. This can be leveraged in a number of ways; most obviously, it can be used by simply making the course of action you desire, be the course of action that the person sees as most socially acceptable or ‘proven.’ Again, we’ll go over this more in detail.
While you’re waiting for the rest of this series to come out, take a look at this video, which explains each of the six weapons of influence in a fairly entertaining way.
Have you used these tools before, perhaps without even realizing it? Chances are you have. Now that you are consciously aware of them, which one can you see yourself using the most?