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The Truth Behind Influence

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By Baillee Furst, Marketing and Events Manager, West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce

Is there any part of your job that requires convincing other people to move in your direction—whether that be coworkers, supporters, or customers? Recently, the West Des Moines Chamber’s young professional program had its final educational session of the year with Jim Summers, Max S. Wortman, Jr. Professor and associate professor of management at Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business. The focus of the session, The Science of Getting to Yes, taught young professional attendees six laws to assist them in influencing others.

Influence is more than just posting about how much you love a product or place on social media and expecting others to immediately share your viewpoint and make a purchase. There are six different approaches you can take to sway people’s opinions. Some of these might come to mind immediately, like reciprocity, which is receiving something in return for doing a favor for another. An example of this is when stores like Costco give out free samples, in hope that customers will then purchase that product. The key to this is to be the one to give first, because when someone owes you, they usually do more to make up for this than what the initial act was worth.

There are also ways we are influenced that we might not even be conscious of. Social proof is when we look to others to see which actions we should take, seeking refuge by safety in numbers. If you’re not sure what restaurant to go to in a food court, you automatically assume the one with the longest line is the best, don’t you? That’s social proof. Other examples of this include staying late at work because someone else might be doing it or putting money into an overflowing tip jar.

These are just two of the six laws Dr. Summers spoke about. The others include commitment and consistency, liking, authority and scarcity—all supported by immense research.

Interested in learning more about similar topics? Contact Kara Matheson, senior director of workforce development, to learn more about West YP. Opportunities and growth await in 2022!