Our ability to influence others is dependent on a variety of factors. Some of these factors are under our control while others are unpredictable and in a sense random. Our personal network, social resistance, social status, and channels of communication are some of the factors that play a role in our window of influence. Also, our underlying reason for influencing others holds some weight in our ability to influence. If our motivation for influencing is based on greed and monetization our success will differ greatly from influence used to help people below the poverty line. Starting a revolution, beginning a movement, or being the catalyst of change stems from our ability to influence.
Our personal network consists of the people we know and our extended network. Our base network, or the people that we know personally is the core group that absorbs our initial influence. If these people are influenced your message will spread further to an extended secondary network and perhaps beyond. It has been determined that everyone in the entire world is separated by merely 6 peer to peer relationships. However, it is not likely that a typical article, idea, or movement reaches every person on our planet. For an article, idea, or movement to spread like a wildfire there needs to be initial support and societal consensus. Also, it doesn’t hurt to pay for your initial support. You have the potential to reach the world. Sounds easy, right?
People have a desire to be a part of something bigger. With that being said, people fear straying from the pack due to safety in numbers. A prime example of this is a school of fish. Only fish that leave the school get eaten by sharks. To support something new, or something contrarian is a step outside the zone of safety. It is a risk that few are willing to take. People fear being judged by other people. People are always concerned with how others will perceive them. This fear prevents people from sharing what they believe and how they feel. Fortunately, it only takes a few people to believe in and support your cause to gain momentum towards influencing. Check out this TED video on how to start a movement from Derek Sivers.
If I told you that I think wood chips are the most nutritious food for your body, would you believe me? No, you would tell me to get lost. What if a new study released by Dr. Soandso detailed the health benefits of eating wood chips with supporting scientific evidence, then would you agree? Dr. Soandso is a doctor so surely s/he would know what is best. My point is that social status lends itself to authority. We tend to hang on the words of people that have a higher social status than our own. Moreover, social popularity harnesses power to influence. Hollywood celebrity’s opinions are more important to us because celebrities have found success and became rich. Clearly if they are rich their beliefs must be better and more logically sound than our own. Our window of influence is dependant upon our social status in relation to the masses.
The method of communication that we choose to influence other people can have differing results. There are so many ways to reach people today. We are all fighting for attention to influence. Influencing on different communication channels is a trade off between cost and effectiveness. For example, social networks are free, but they rely on an algorithm to reach the people that you want to influence. Television advertisements cost a lot of money and reach a broad audience, but if you are influencing a specific group of people that channel may not be worth the hefty price. All of the following channels of communication have different trade offs between cost and effectiveness.
- Social Networks
- Mass Media
I hope this article helped you understand some of the challenges associated with influencing others. To expand your window of influence work on what you can control. It’s also important to remember that people won’t be influenced by what you do, but by why you do it. DJR Jeeves Consulting wants to help you influence.