Influence: A practical guide to getting what you want

This may seem like the title of a seedy pick up artist’s new book but hear me out. People have been using these little influence tricks for years to get people to do whatever they want for them.

Why use influence?

Doing these simple things I’m about to tell you about has allowed those in the know to influence and convince others – mostly for good of course, for years and years.

Using these skills, you can increase your likelihood of peers doing you favours, business partners teaming up with you on projects or even consumers buying your products.

So, how can I influence people???


man looking in mirror

Mirroring is the act of subtly copying a person’s actions. This could be copying the person when they are smiling, nodding, being direct or even slouching/standing straight.

Mimicking someone’s actions has been shown to increase levels of perceived likeability and is an extremely easy and efficient way of gaining someone’s trust before trying to influence their behaviour.


Paying someone a compliment is always nice anyway. But along with getting you into that person’s good books it can actually change their perception of you to more in line with the compliment you just gave them.

So if you want someone to see you as professional, tell them they look smart and so on. This one has its limitations but it’s a good way to shift somebody’s subconscious perceptions of you. This leaves them more susceptible to influence from other tools in this list.

Establish common ground

Establishing common ground with someone not only builds an instant rapport with that person but it also makes you appear more trustworthy. This makes people listen more to what you’re saying, meaning they’re more likely to bend to your will.


Man shaking hand

Simply touching someone lightly is enough to make them far more likely to do something for you. This is compounded if you stand to their side and touch them on the shoulder.

This effect is a result of the interpersonal touch of this scenario and makes them feel comfortable in your presence which can create a sense of favour in their mind.

Emotional fluctuation

Fluctuating your voice and tone throughout an interaction can have an immense effect on how someone reacts to your pitch.

Presenting your favour/thought process/whatever in a certain way is one of the most important factors when trying to assert influence over someone.

Start off with a problem whilst using a glum, lower than usual tone then build up to your proposal subtly – presenting this as the solution and bringing a much louder and excited tone to the conversation. This creates excitement in the person and makes them more likely to do what you want.

Hold back 

This will be the defensive tool of your arsenal.

Before presenting to someone your idea, favour, etc you must think of any excuses or negatives they might have in relation to them.

Then think of all the positive outcomes your request may have and list them out. Hold 3 of these back that relate to the potential problems instead of telling the person all of them at once.

This way, when they have their doubts, instead of panicking and trying to counter their argument you can use one of your positives to jump on the front foot and turn the situation into an exciting experience for the person.

Jones effect

This is the more business-y way of saying FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s named after the famous phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” and involves creating a sense of ‘everyone else is doing it’ in the person’s head.

This makes them more likely to want whatever you’re asking for as opposed to you having to incentivise or beg them to do it. If you can master this skill and none of the others you will still stand a good chance at influencing those around you.

Closed questions

Influence question mark

This is one of the most effective tools to get the exact answer you want from someone.

When asking someone something, limit their options. Keep the question closed and not open ended. Here’s an example;

“Hey I’ve got a favour to ask you. I need you to write up this report for me. Which day is best for you – Monday or Wednesday?”.

See what I did there? The person I’m talking to won’t turn round and say “No I’m not doing it”. They’re going to give you a day and think they did so on their own terms, when in fact you rigged the odds in your favour from the off.

What now…

…you now have all the tools to influence those around you in any which way you please. Just don’t use them to extort money from your Gran. I don’t want that blood on my hands. Cheers.

If you want to learn more about influencing people and how to get what you want, I suggest reading the 48 laws of power.

Other than that, enjoy your new set of skills.