When people are trained on influence and persuasion, they generally study a combination of what master influencers do and what interesting social science research points to. The inherent assumption is that the difference between you and the master influencer that you will become is a few skills.
However, when I reflect on my attempts to persuade people, I realize that I’ve actually not been all that persuasive when I set out to be persuasive. Instead, I was most persuasive when I wasn’t trying at all.
So, what happened when I wasn’t trying? I was influence-able. I was more willing to listen, to ask questions and to have a conversation without attempting to make a sale. As I was in tune with what the right decision should be, I was able to really contribute to the conversation and help make the right decision.
It turns out influence isn’t all that different from most other valuable skills. It isn’t about them, it is about us.
Or, put differently, the hard part about influence isn’t learning persuasion. It is learning to be persuadable ourselves.
PS: You might be able to push your view onto someone else for a while. Or, you might even get them to act in a way that isn’t in their interest. It is generally short term. And, that’s not influence anyway, it is manipulation.