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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rules of Influence

Rules Of Influence

People at work are always complaining that they don’t have enough power but if they stopped and took a big deep breath, they would all realize that they do have something else and that is influence.

Every way that people are going to act has already happened. Oh, the technology changes but human behavior has changed very little over the past thirty to forty thousand years. So when we are trying to figure out how to deal with a people type challenge we can easily just study history.

You don’t have to go back to far to figure the best way to influence people. Less than a hundred years in fact. Lawrence of Arabia figured it out back in 1917 when he was in the middle of successfully influencing the Arab tribes of the Western Arabia to revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War One. He documented what he found out about influencing tribes in his Twenty-Seven Articles. Here are the highlights. I have shortened them down and modernized the language so us twenty-first century folks can understand what he was getting at.

1. When approaching a new situation start slow. A bad start is tough to fix.
2. Don’t make it about you. It has to be about them. If you draw too much attention to yourself people won’t trust you.
3. Dress like the people you are influencing.
4. Know and understand the different culture.
5. Don’t make people act or follow your strategy. Figure out how to adapt to their way of doing things.
6. It is better that others do it poorly than that you do it yourself.
7. Get to know and work through the leaders. Put their needs before yours.
8. Have a good sense of humor. You will need it.
9. Don’t drive people to do things. Lead them. They will follow your recommendations once they trust you.
10. Don’t try to influence in big meetings. Get in the tent of the leaders (get their trust) so you can drop by and suggest things on the fly. They will be better received.

Here are all 27 of them (below) just as Lawrence wrote them up back in 1917. There may be some words you don’t understand but if you have a computer you can always look them up. It’s the ability to translate what has happened in the past and harvest the big rules and apply them to the present that is the secret.

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