Persuasion and “liking”

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Dale Carnegie (low resolution copyrighted image pulled from Wikipedia)
Dale Carnegie (low resolution copyrighted image pulled from Wikipedia)

If the people we like the most are the most effective persuaders, why is it that we often don’t see it that way?  I expect this is because (with rare exceptions), we don’t feel we are “under the influence” (from a marketing/business development perspective) from our closest friends — and, unless we know them as selling or business development specialists from the start of the relationship, our tendency is to think “oh no” when they start turning on sales-type behaviour out of the blue. (Have they been roped into a multi-level or network marketing scheme?)

Yet, we can make ourselves more attractive socially — and thus more persuasive — through some of the old-basics taught years ago such as the aptly named “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, written way back in the 1930s. Robert Cialdini took these concepts and reviewed more recent, but still “old” research, dating back to the 1960s, discovering that two qualities truly influence whether others will like you:

Similarity

Yes, if you are “like” the person you wish to influence, you’ll be more successful. Age, height, religion, political values, even whether you smoke or not, all carry weight (and, I suppose, so does your actual weight).

Praise

Although Dale Carnegie says flattery is not good, it turns out that even if the praise you provide is utterly false, you  will still respond more favourably to someone who praises you than one who doesn’t.  So find good things about the people around you and let them know. (Genuine praise, of course, is always better than the fake stuff, as you will be caught out in the end if you are insincere.)

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