The book: “You Have More Influence Than You Think”
The author: Vanessa Bohns
The details: c. 2021, W.W. Norton, $28.95, 235 pages
Now, lookit here. There’s something you need to know, eyes forward and listen, keep an open mind and a shut mouth, and pay attention.
Then know that this is not the way to persuade anyone to do anything; in fact, it’ll backfire and in “You Have More Influence Than You Think” by Vanessa Bohns, you’ll learn what will work to gently change someone’s mind. “Hey, I like your shirt!” It literally takes two seconds to say that, but watch what happens when you say it to a stranger: they stand a little taller, happily flustered that someone approves; they feel good, and boom, you’ve just influenced someone to smile. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to be influential, says social psychologist Bohns. You just have to be noticed, and you won’t need to “wave your hands around and shout” for that to happen. If you want attention, “you already have it” because we humans are “wired to notice ... people,” and people who are noticed are often followed.
So you have influence without even trying, but how do you create the biggest impact? Here’s another surprise: studies show that sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Students sent out to borrow cell phones from strangers were successful more than not; one experiment proved that people will commit minor vandalism, if they’re asked. This may be explained by an extreme human difficulty in saying “no.” Research shows that even if something is illegal or uncomfortable and a person clearly doesn’t want to say “yes,” many will, to avoid saying “no.” This, says Bohn, is why understanding the ask is essential, and dating and mating can be irritating; add perceived power to the mix, and an issue becomes less influential and more wrong. To further your influence, try to connect with people. State what you think; that alone may help. Utilize crowd behavior. Always communicate in-person. And chill: as every parent will tell you, overreactions just make things worse. You are being watched. And that’s a good thing, but it can also be detrimental, so complete your actions wisely: in “You Have More Influence Than You Think,” you’ll see how even innocuous behaviors can make an impact. Beware, but as author Vanessa Bohns states, there’s no need to be “paranoid” if you keep in mind that the title of this book is correct and that being an influencer has serious weight. Indeed, the notion that influence can be harnessed with a mere appropriately stated request is almost shocking, like having a superpower that’s too big to control. Whether it’s verbal, action or a posting, your influence can hurt someone and can cause misinformation and rumors to be perceived as truth, even when said in jest. Pick your convictions with caution, as she indicates, and remember that “You don’t need to have an opinion on everything...” Read “You Have More Influence Than You Think” carefully, and with great thought, take its confidence-boosting and use it wisely. There’s power in this book, and if you need sway — lookit here. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the reviewer behind “The Bookworm Sez,” Reach her at bookwormsez.com.