One of the six rules of influence you can and should use in Ethical Persuasion is called “Authority” by R. Cialdini.
Authority is very often confused with aggressiveness, lack of confidence, pushing people against their will etc…
Nowadays there is this big trend saying that a manager isn’t a leader. In both cases authority is used but in a very different way. If one agrees that being a leader is way better than acting like a manager then authority is definitely the same coin used on both faces.
Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow rich” also mentions authority and the fact that people using it to force others to act never succeed while the ones using it to drive positive action are the ones enjoying a great reputation (well, that’s a very short summary).
What does it mean to have “authority” when it comes to Ethical Persuasion?
People subconsciously see you as the one they should listen to.
How do you become the authority?
It may sound obvious but you have to know what you are talking about, which means you know a bit more than them … Have you seen “Catch me if you can”? Well that’s what I mean …
Even when you know what you are talking about you still need to make sure that people will perceive you as the one they should listen to. Which means that they have to resonate with you and agree to be part, subconsciously, of your tribe.
That requires that you know why you are and are “breathing” it. Meaning : you can state in a few words without thinking WHO you are. And you have the rational facts to support it.
Let me take an example. When I give a workshop I have to make sure the audience will listen to me during one to two days, non stop. Would I start saying “Hello, I am Thomas and have been a Chef for the past 20 years and will now talk to you about the way the brain makes decision, based on the latest neuroscience.”
I could be a chef who enjoys reading about the brain, I could look like I know what I say, still … I didn’t make it obvious that I know brain stuff.
In fact I used two very powerful techniques on the primal brain, the decision maker, of my audience to drive the decision to listen to me and to make the rational brain happy: a prop and a story. And that story has been prepared, rehearsed for a very long time.
That’s another important point about authority : you have to be ready, you have to have practiced!
As you can see Ethical Persuasion isn’t just a trick you pull out of the hat without knowing how to use it. It belongs to the stuff you haver to work on. In fact it’ all about working on yourself to be a better version, one that people will want to listen to, follow …. the Authority.
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