Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead


We succeed in business and in life when we influence how others think, feel, and act: getting them to accept our point of view, follow our lead, join our cause, feel our excitement, or buy our products and services. The act of influencing is such a part of our daily lives that we often don’t even realize when we (or others) are doing it. But to succeed, we need to know how influence works…and how to use it.

Influencing effectively requires adaptability, perceptiveness, and ...

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Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead

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We succeed in business and in life when we influence how others think, feel, and act: getting them to accept our point of view, follow our lead, join our cause, feel our excitement, or buy our products and services. The act of influencing is such a part of our daily lives that we often don’t even realize when we (or others) are doing it. But to succeed, we need to know how influence works…and how to use it.

Influencing effectively requires adaptability, perceptiveness, and insight into other people and cultures. Based on 20 years of research, Elements of Influence shows readers how to:

• Understand why people allow themselves to be influenced—and why they resist

• Choose the right approach for each situation

• Be influential when they have no formal authority

• Succeed in every kind of organization—even in other countries

Filled with exercises and practical applications, this book shows how anyone can increase his or her influence to achieve greater success.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Dr. Bacon offers a great deal of well thought out, valuable information…..Elements of Influence is a good book filled with excellent ideas and worthwhile techniques.” - Inland Empire Business Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814417324
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 7/15/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 353,847
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

TERRY R. BACON (Durango, CO) is the founder of Lore International Institute, a widely respected executive-development firm recently acquired by Korn/Ferry International. He is now the scholar in residence in that firm and is the author of many books including Powerful Proposals (978-0-8144-7232-3), What People Want, and The Elements of Power (978-0-8144-1511-5).

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Read an Excerpt


We human beings are social creatures, and our world works because of

the many ways we interact with and influence one another. We get our

way with others by developing bases of power—which derive from a

number of personal and organizational sources—and using that power

to influence how others think, feel, and act. We succeed in business as

well as in life when we learn how best to influence others to do our

bidding, accept our point of view, follow our lead, join our cause, feel

our excitement, or buy our products and services.

We should be clear about one thing from the start: Influence is not

some magic power only a few people have. Every person on the planet

exercises influence all the time. Influencing is what all of us seek to do

whenever we want someone else to do something, to agree with us, to

believe something, to choose something, to think in a particular way,

to accept our perspective, or to behave differently. Even the simple act

of greeting other people is an act of influence (you are trying to persuade

them that you are friendly and not hostile, and you want to

influence them to treat you in a friendly, nonhostile manner in return).

A baby tries to influence its mother when it cries. Children try to influence

their parents when they ask if they can watch a television program

or go outside and play. Teachers try to influence their students;

salespeople try to influence their customers; employees try to influence

their boss; advisers try to influence their clients; lobbyists try to

influence elected officials; advertisers try to influence consumers; leaders

try to influence their followers; and authors, like me, try to influence


We tend to think that power and influence belong only to those

who are very powerful and influential—to kings and presidents, govern-

ment officials, generals, billionaires, movie stars, renowned athletes,

and others among the rich and famous—but this is a fallacy.

Influence is so common and so much a part of the fabric of daily life

that we usually fail to recognize it when it happens. In virtually every

human interaction, there will be multiple attempts at influence, some

verbal and some nonverbal. The person I’m speaking to nods her head

(wanting me to believe that she agrees with what I’ve said or at least

understands it). I ask for her opinion (this is an influence attempt

called consulting). She tells me what she thinks and indicates why she

thinks it is true (another influence attempt, since she is trying to persuade

me to accept her idea of truth). I suggest we meet with someone

else (an influence attempt) to discuss the matter further. She agrees but

wants to bring along an expert who can validate her perspective

(another influence attempt).

Round and round we go, each one of us trying to influence the other

so we can shape the outcome—and this is what human interactions are:

a continuous negotiation for agreement or acceptance as we all attempt

to exert our will, point of view, or interests. In English, the word influence

can have negative connotations, as in influence peddling in Washington

or one person exerting undue influence on another. But these negative

examples of influence give a bad name to what is actually a ubiquitous

and, for the most part, ethical human practice. The fact is that you could

not get along in the world if you were not able to influence others and if

you were not willing to be influenced by them on a nearly continuous basis.

As other authors have noted, “No one escapes psychological ‘axwork,’

the constant reconfiguring of our beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and

behavior by unrelenting and ubiquitous forces. . . . Persuasion is cons-

tantly remaking us into persons who are measurably changed. Sometimes

imperceptibly—ofttimes dramatically.”

Influence is part of nearly every communication and occurs in virtually

every human interaction. Influence is crucial to business, too. It

is so fundamental to leadership that there could be no leadership without


So what is influence? Webster’s dictionary defines influence as “the

act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force

or direct exercise of command,” or “the power or capacity of causing

an effect in indirect or intangible ways.” The research on power and

influence shows, however, that while it may happen without an apparent

exertion of force, influence can also be overt and quite tangible, as

when a merchant offers a customer free shipping if the customer will

accept the price being stated (an influence technique called exchan-

ging) or when a product developer says to a colleague, “I need your

help on a project” (an influence technique called stating).

Influence is the art of getting others to take your lead—

to believe something you want them to believe, think in a way

you want them to think, or do something you want them

to do.

Ethical Influence

When influence is ethical, the person being influenced (the influencee)

consents to be influenced, although most of the time that consent is

implicit and unstated. A friend asks me for a favor, and I agree to it. A

colleague calls me and suggests that we meet to talk about an urgent

business opportunity, and I move other appointments on my calendar

so that we can meet right away. I am listening to a debate between two

presidential candidates. They are discussing the economy and one of

them seems to have a better grasp of the issues and a better solution to

the problems—and I decide to vote for that candidate. During an

annual physical, my doctor tells me that my cholesterol level is too

high and advises me to see a nutritionist who can help me learn to eat

healthier foods—and I make an appointment with the nutritionist as

soon as I leave the clinic. In each of these cases, I am not being coerced.

I have a choice. I could decide to say no to each of these influence

attempts, so I am, in effect, consenting to be influenced.

If I have no choice, however, then the influence attempt is coercive

or manipulative and therefore unethical. A man points a gun at

me and demands that I give him my wallet. A solicitor tells me that

my generous gift to the nonprofit she represents will aid people in a

developing country, but in fact she is pocketing many donations as

part of her “management fee.” An angry man pushes his way to the

front of the line at my service counter, demanding that I serve him

first and give him what he wants or he’ll report me to my supervisor.

My boss tells me not to worry about some charges on his expense

account that he doesn’t have receipts for. In the same breath, he says

it’s too bad about the recent layoffs and I should feel lucky I still have

a job. A customer will agree to accept my proposal only if I pay a consulting

fee to an agent in his country—who happens to be the customer’s

cousin. In these cases, I am being pressured, coerced, or lied to,

and saying no could have negative consequences for me.

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Table of Contents


Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Part I: Getting Others to Follow Your Lead 11

Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Influence 13

Chapter 2: The Ways and Means of Influence 35

Part II: Ethical Influence Techniques 47

Chapter 3: Let Me Explain: Logical Persuading and Legitimizing 51

Chapter 4: Believe Me: Exchanging and Stating 75

Chapter 5: Finding Common Ground: Socializing and Appealing to Relationship 97

Chapter 6: What Do You Think? Consulting and Alliance Building 113

Chapter 7: Finding Inspiration: Appealing to Values and Modeling 135

Chapter 8: Increasing Your Impact: How to Become More Influential 161

Part III: The Dark Side of Influence 187

Chapter 9: I Would Prefer Not To: Avoiding 191

Chapter 10: There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute: Manipulating 205

Chapter 11: Winning Through Intimidation 223

Chapter 12: Making an Offer They Can’t Refuse: Threatening 243

Appendix A: Definitions of Power Sources, Influence Techniques, and Influence Skills 249

Appendix B: Global Influence Research 263

Notes 273

Index 279

About the Author 288

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