Influencer: “The Power to Change Anything” was published in 2008 by McGraw Hill and was written by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzer. It is a New York Times best seller.
The authors start out by flat out debunking the notion that the ability to influence is reserved for people with charismatic and silver-tongued DNA. They firmly and kindly suggest that this notion is an excuse used by those of us who have tried to influence and failed or who feel daunted by the prospect of using influence to bring about significant change. Deciding that we aren’t equipped to influence gives us permission to work on that spreadsheet that will convince the world we are right or to yell louder hoping that people will eventually “get it,” rather than getting out there and making change happen. Having momentarily snapped us out of denial, Patterson et. al. give us a how-to manual for influencing that is solid, accessible and informative.
While I am tempted to summarize the whole book here, I will not. I will share a bit about the three elements of the book that I found most useful. (I have been much more heavy-handed than the authors. In my defense I have a few paragraphs to win you over, they have a couple hundred pages)
1) Change the Way You Change Minds: “People choose behaviors based on what they think will happen to them as a result.” “When it comes to resistant problems, verbal persuasion rarely works.” Sharing personal experience is a great tool but in the absence of this tell people a story. Tell a story that acts on their internal view of the world and gets them thinking that they have the ability to change and that change might be in their best interest. The lesson here: TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THEY SHOULD DO AND WHY DOES NOT WORK. STOP TRYING THAT APPROACH.
2) There are actually six influence points not the one (whatever it is) that YOU know and use over and over (with, the authors predict, limited success). The authors provide an intuitive and simple to remember influence framework that you can refer to you when you are planning (note, planning) to influence. While the examples and teaching that the authors provide will help you quickly internalize the elements, once you see the framework you might feel a little sheepish that you hadn’t thought of it yourself. The lesson here: INFLUENCE IS NOT MAGIC, THERE IS A “FORMULA.” IF YOU USE IT, YOU CAN BRING THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE.
3) There are six influence points and the more of them you use, the more success you will have. Conversely if you use just one or two, you will fail. The lesson here: PEOPLE ARE COMPLEX. PEOPLE RESPOND TO DIFFERENT THINGS. YOU ARE NOT A SHEEP, STOP TREATING THOSE YOU WISH TO INFLUENCE AS THOUGH THEY WERE. USE MULTIPLE STRATEGIES.
I highly recommend this book. I suggest reading it through once and marking up the parts that seem particularly relevant to you. Chances are you will want to come back to the highlighted sections again and again as you apply the lessons of Influencer to the change initiatives you are trying to move forward.