You can’t. You really can’t get people to do stuff. Not over the long-run, anyway. Even as a parent or a supervisor. There is just about nothing that you can make another person do. Thankfully, they can’t make you do anything either. Not really.

One of the more important aspects of influence, true influence, is that it is won and lost in the long game. Most of the stuff that we think is persuasive only works for one or two interactions. Fool me once, shame on you. That sort of thing. I’ve fallen victim to such tactics many times. People have gotten me to part with my money when I didn’t want to. I admit it. And I never went back to them. So that wasn’t influence; it was a bunch of gimmicks.

Anyway, here’s an important line from this week’s book:

People won’t attempt a behavior unless (1) they think it’s worth it, and (2) they think they can do what’s required.

That seems obvious but we often forget it. Mostly because we wish we could make people do stuff. We wish we could just tell them, convince them, order them, threaten them. But it helps to remember that influence is a long game and people’s behavior are driven by these two factors (at least). Even when you’re the boss, people run this calculus with everything you tell them to do. 

So think about them for a moment. Think about the people you work with. There are a lot them who don’t think they can do it.

There are a lot more who don’t think it’s worth it.

You can’t change that. But if you help them change it, if you appeal to Part 1 and 2 in an open and authentic way, you might find progress for both of you. It’s hard work, so much harder than barking orders, but appeal to these two factors and they might appeal to you. A negotiation on these two points might emerge. An agreement might form. Then action. 

Notice the symbiosis here? If you help them, they just might be able to help you. That’s how influence grows in the long game.

Image from Wiki Commons