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Are you the right brand of influence?

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

62 Influence and persuasion

Consider that global brands are the peak of influence in retail decision-making. Countless people willingly become advertising boards, wearing clothes and products emblazoned with the manufacturers’ brands. It is as if, by virtue of purchasing a particular product, they become a distinct, if not distinguished, part of a powerful global club of successful people. The methods of influence used – and the quality of the product or service offered under any brand – vary widely, from true to false, and from quality to garbage.

But influence is far deeper and more complex than this. Consider who or what influences you to believe what you believe, to value what you value, to think, talk, act, behave, and live the way you do. And how does what you believe and value, how you think, talk, act, and behave, influence others and the world around you? This matter of influence is key to being a good negotiator and a good person, and it is directly related to your vision of yourself and your purpose in life.

A product of influence

Rooms coloured in yellow are apparently most prone to make babies cry.

You are a product of your influences. You didn’t become or create yourself in a vacuum. Who you are, what you do, and how you live are a result of the influences of many things and many people. These influences are positive and negative, healthy and unhealthy, primary and secondary. Primary influences shape and guide your developing character and life, with or without your knowledge. And they inevitably become a part of your influence.

Yet many people are relatively unaware of what has influenced them and in what manner. They are influenced by default, from childhood on, at times to their detriment, by limiting or false beliefs and philosophies, or negative role models and behaviors. Lacking awareness of their influences, having never deeply questioned or examined them, they cannot change or improve on what they believe and value – how they act, talk, behave, and live.

Success through success

Those most likely to succeed are those who consciously choose to model themselves on their positive influences. These positive influences are people, ideas, and philosophies that inspire and motivate them to do and be better than they have been, to reach for and achieve more than they previously dared or believed they could. Without choosing positive influences as models to emulate, no one would fulfill his or her potential, no one would reach and succeed beyond his or her own limited thoughts and beliefs, and no one would have influence with others worth mentioning.

Are you Gandhi or Hitler?<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-2733991p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Everett Historical</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

We can use our influence wisely or foolishly, for good or ill, for self-centered and even destructive living, or creatively for the betterment of others and the world. At its worst, influence is manipulation, propaganda, or coercion without regard for the other party. At its best, it is inspiration, service, positive motivation, partnering, and mentorship in the service of worthwhile pursuits or worthy causes. Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi used their influence for radically different purposes.

The kind of influence we acquire and exercise in life is largely a matter of choice, and also a matter of character. In fact, your influence and your character are inseparable; the one emerges from the other. Some people imagine that influence is simply a matter of words and actions. But your character is the real source of your influence and, in the end, it is your character that counts.

Successful people, quality people, and great negotiators consciously choose their primary influences in order to develop their character. And this determines the kind of influence they exercise in life. Understanding influence as a key factor in every negotiation, they maximise their influence in the negotiation process.

They know that influence in business and negotiation is more than mere advertising and persuasion, more than just getting someone to do something you want him or her to do. Ideally, it is persuading or inspiring someone to do or buy something that will benefit him or her, as well as you; that will bring that person satisfaction; that will enhance or improve his or her business or quality of life; that may even help that person to use their influence to serve others in the same way.

Inspire to the light

Your influence, your quality of character, and power of persuasion are the keys to your success as a negotiator. Ideally, influence is used in a positive and ethical manner, in service of truth, a quality product, a legitimate service, or a worthy cause or goal. Such influence is essential in business and life. For quality products and services, and worthy causes and goals must be persuasively represented if they are to reach into the world and benefit the lives of others. The world is full of talented people who never succeeded, and full of quality products that never sold, and worthy causes that failed, because they were ineffectively or unpersuasively marketed and never found their market audience.

Great negotiators are advocates, using their influence to represent something they genuinely believe in. To use your influence in the service of something you don’t believe in – something unworthy, false, or of poor quality – is to cheapen yourself. And it is all too common in business and negotiations. The familiar stereotypes epitomising this perversion of influence are the snake-oil salesman and the sleazy lawyer.

Some people will say or do almost anything, whether or not it is true or ethical, to close a deal, make a sale, achieve a goal, or get what they want. But this “ends justifies the means” approach is the corrupt influence that con artists, sociopaths, demagogues, and snake-oil salesmen have always used to get their way. Such tactics are anathema to ethical people who value integrity and long-term success.

Snake-oil salesmen can be very persuasive, and successful in one-off deals. But they use their influence to get you to buy garbage packaged as gold. They don’t form long-term business relationships because they have to move on before their customers realise they’ve been duped. A negotiator whose influence is not backed up by quality is just a snake-oil salesman. In the long term, your influence is only as good as your follow-through, and as stellar as your character.

Truthful persuasion is the formulaelixer formula

How then to approach this matter of influence upon which all business, negotiation, politics, and even all human relationships depend? What is the nature and right use of such influence at its best? It comes down to a simple formula: creative persuasion truthfully representing a noble ideal, a worthy service or cause, or a quality product. When this is true in your case, you have decisive leverage in a negotiation.

Influence in a negotiation is about helping the other party find a mutually beneficial solution to their circumstances, or persuading them that what you have to offer is what they are looking for or need. It is about moving the other party to the place where their needs will be met through you. When you know what the other party needs, and you have what they need, or can help them get it, you have decisive leverage.

Influence in a negotiation is applying that leverage by establishing good rapport, gaining their trust, and persuading them that you really can help them find a solution or get their needs met. Then, most important of all, you must actually deliver on your promise. For the sake of personal reputation, customer loyalty and satisfaction, and long-term success, your influence must be consistently backed up by delivery.

If you use your influence to help others fulfill their needs and desires and achieve their goals, your influence will grow and spread. People will link their fulfilment or success, in which you played a part, with you. They will be loyal to you. They will hold you in high regard. They will even use their influence to be your advocate to others. Thus influence is the principle on which great negotiators build their own success.


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