The best way to influence the behavior of others
We are all dependent on one another. We need other people and they need us in order to live the best lives we can. But other people are generally outside of our control. So one of the biggest problems anyone faces is how to get others to behave in the way we want them to.
Trying to get others to do what you want them to may sound sinister, but it's not. It's just practical.
A parent wants to have a certain amount of control over her children's behavior. A boss wants control over his employees. A friend wants her peers to behave towards her in a certain way. In almost every avenue of life, we are trying to influence how others behave.
So how should we go about getting others to do what we want?
The most base answer that most people come up with is to force them to. An employer threatens those under her with firing; a schoolboy bullies his peers; a dictator threatens his citizens with death. This is the easy answer to the question, but it is not the best one.
The problem with threats is that they breed resentment. Nobody likes being told what to do.
Even if you manage to frighten someone enough to do your bidding, you can be sure that they'll be looking for any opportunity to get back at you.
A resentful employee may not do their best work, fail to report problems, and quit at the worst possible time. A bitter child will rebel and do all the things you don't want them to just to spite you. A dictator who holds his people in fear must live in a world of constant paranoia, knowing the hatred against him is so great that he could be overthrown and killed at any time.
A much better strategy than fear is persuasion. Make another person want the same thing as you, and you have a powerful ally. This is more difficult to master than mere threats, but in the long-run is much more effective.
The best way to successfully persuade others is to convince them to like you. The source of an idea matters just as much as its logic. An idea is much more convincing when it comes from a friend than from a stranger.
This may sound manipulative, but in fact it's not. Having people like you has so many benefits that to pursue it as a goal simply to influence others would be silly.
I go into strategies for convincing others to like you elsewhere in detail, but a good start is to be sincere, know how to make others laugh in a non-threatening way, and be polite. Look for those characteristics in others that you like, and try to cultivate them within yourself.
This strategy also works well in mastering techniques for persuading others of your point of view. Use your own mind as a laboratory. Which arguments convince you? How are they formed? How are they presented?
Try to imitate the characteristics of what you see as persuasive arguments when formulating your own methods.
Getting people to like you and learning how to influence them are skills nobody ever perfects. Learning them completely takes more than a single lifetime. They are, however, talents that any person should always be trying to improve upon.
The better you become at them, the more you will be able to get others to behave in the way you want them to, and the better your life will be as a result.
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