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Persuade With Power
Kurt Mortensen
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Character is the combination of qualities that distinguishes one person from another. These qualities make up who you are on the inside?not the external front you may sometimes put up. Who are you, really? What do you do when no one is watching, when there is no one to impress? How do you treat people when you don't need something from them? Character is also made up of such qualities as integrity, honesty, sincerity, and predictability.

I consider solid character to be at the very foundation of one's ability to succeed. No success is going to be profound or lasting in its effects if it stems from questionable ethics, motives, or behaviors. In his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey offers a powerful explanation for how character is crucial to one's ultimate success:

If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other?while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity or insincerity?then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do?even using so-called good human relations techniques?will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success.

Even if you're an honest person of admirable character, it is human nature for people to cast sweeping judgments and formulate opinions without all the facts. So, if you want genuine trust and lasting persuasion, you must avoid even the slightest appearance of anything that might be considered dishonest. If you never place yourself in a situation where one might be misled about you or your integrity, then your good, hard-earned reputation will never be compromised.
Whenever someone tries to influence us, in our minds we ask ourselves, “Can I trust this person? Do I believe him? Is she really concerned about me?” We are less likely to be influenced if we sense that the person trying to persuade us is driven solely by self-interest. Trust is the glue that holds the entire persuasion process together. 

Trust is created when you put your audience’s interests and wants before your own. Many times trust comes when your audience feels you are predictable. For some people, trust is a leap of faith; they simply want and need to believe in the persuader’s intentions. Research shows that, deep down, people want to trust others.

 If you can’t assume that your audience automatically trusts you, then your next focus should be on how to acquire this sense of trust as early on in the persuasion process as possible. To do this, it’s helpful to understand how trust works. Most people can’t explain why they trust certain people more or less than others. 

Usually there is not a lot of rational thought behind it; more often, it is an instinct or feeling about the particular person. Your audience will feel you out, trying to discern whether or not they can trust you and how much. Remember it is a sliding scale. This means that you want to be perceived as trustworthy right away, before your audience members even know you (because, fair or not, they’re already making judgment calls about you at this point). 

Then, you can demonstrate that this trustworthiness is genuine through your correspondence and interactions. Gaining and keeping trust for both the short term and the long term is vital to your success as a persuader.

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