Influence is a type of persuasion. Often people are affected by other’s behavior, words, actions and presence to a certain degree. Thoughts and actions of people can be controlled or even altered by influencing them. An example of one of the most common types of influence is the peer pressure. With peer pressure, an individual will be convinced to carry out actions that are chosen by his peers even though he may not like, he will still do it because he feels such actions are necessary for maintaining a good relationship with their peers.
Charisma also helps in influencing others. Charisma taps into the power of words and gives people the ability to influence either a person or group, largely based on the things they say, and the way they say it. People who are typically described as being charismatic are those who have a way with words, and who are able to use their words in a manner which allows them to move others to action. Those who are charismatic have a tendency to be excellent orators, and can be skilled at both public speaking and writing.
However, it is possible to influence others not by peer pressure or charisma, but by having certain traits which others find as being desirable. For example, people who are seen as being beautiful, or who have lots of money, a prestigious education, high intellect, or a high paying job can often easily influence people who do not have these things.
A person could completely be lacking in political power, yet he will be able influence others by the things that he possesses. The ability to influence others also has a lot to do with ones confidence level. Those who have high levels of confidence are more likely to influence others easily.
Reputation plays a very important role in ones ability to influence others. For example, if you are perceived as being an expert in any given subject, you will have the ability to influence others, particularly when it comes to that subject.
Experts have the power to easily influence others because they are seen as being highly credible, and people are also influenced by experts due to trust. However one must note that it is not necessary to actually be credible. In fact, many con artists were successful because they were able to create the perception of credibility with their victims.
Influence can also be gained through having lots of connections. As the old saying goes, "its not what you know, but who you know." There is a lot of truth to this statement, because while one may not be able to influence a large number of people directly, one may gain a great deal of influence simply be being connected to a large number of people in high places.
Those who generally control any form of mass media will have the ability to influence the public. Even when one is not able to directly impose their will on others, which is most often the case, they can use the mass media as a tool to get the public behind them.
Conformity plays an important role in influence. Compliance can further be broken down into three categories such as
With Compliance, the individual will state that they agree with a certain view point, and will do so in order to gain favor with the person or group they wish to influence.
With Identification, the individual will state specific things, or will act in a specific manner in front of people because they feel this is what the people want. The common phrase that is used for this is "telling people what they want to hear," and is often viewed in a negative manner. The reason for this is because the individual trying to influence others is not genuine.
Internalization occurs in situations where the views of a person are totally altered. The newer views will become the value system of this individual, and these views will not change even after they have left the group, and the reason for this is because they truly believe in the views held by this group. Therefore, Internalization can be seen as being the exact opposite of Compliance.