(Book Review) Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen

By Next Big Idea Club

Zoe Chance is a behavioral scientist and professor. She runs a course at Yale School of Management called Mastering Influence and Persuasion, and it ranks as their most popular elective. Prior to Yale, Zoe managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand at Mattel, and acted on stage and film. Her research has been published in top academic journals like Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Psychological Science, and covered in media outlets like the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalThe Economist, and the BBC.

Below, Zoe shares 5 key insights from her new book, Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen.

1. Making it okay for someone to say no makes them want to say yes.

What do you wish for? Maybe you’re hoping to find meaningful work, lead a successful team, get a raise, share your art, fall in love and have a happy relationship, change a policy, change a politician, or save the planet. Or maybe, right now, you’d just like to get your kids to bed before you’re exhausted. The only way to make your dreams come true is to influence other people to change their behavior.

Trying to influence someone means you’re a threat to their time, money, pride, or social capital. Most importantly, influence threatens their attention. Attention is in short supply, and they’re already handling hundreds of influence attempts per day from marketing, kids, bosses, and internal temptations. It’s no wonder that when someone realizes you’re trying to influence them, their gut reaction is to say no or tune you out. They meet your pressure with resistance.

But when you make an invitation without any pressure whatsoever, they become inclined to lean forward. It’s one of the aikido moves for handling resistance. All you have to do is add a softener to your request like, “I know you’re probably busy,” or “please don’t say yes unless you really want to do this,” or “would you feel comfortable?”

Keep in mind that people are more likely to say yes to a face-to-face request, and far less likely to respond to a social media post. The pressure and likelihood of saying yes depend on the closeness of the interaction. Use your own judgment about balancing the two, and focus on the long run. Conversion doesn’t happen in one conversation—it happens in a relationship.


Zoe Chance is a behavioral scientist and professor. She runs a course at Yale School of Management called Mastering Influence and Persuasion, and it ranks as their most popular elective. Prior to Yale, Zoe managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand at Mattel, and acted on stage and film. Her research has been published in top academic journals like Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Psychological Science, and covered in media outlets like the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalThe Economist, and the BBC.

Below, Zoe shares 5 key insights from her new book, Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things HappenListen to the audio version—read by Zoe herself—in the Next Big Idea App.

1. Making it okay for someone to say no makes them want to say yes.

What do you wish for? Maybe you’re hoping to find meaningful work, lead a successful team, get a raise, share your art, fall in love and have a happy relationship, change a policy, change a politician, or save the planet. Or maybe, right now, you’d just like to get your kids to bed before you’re exhausted. The only way to make your dreams come true is to influence other people to change their behavior.

Trying to influence someone means you’re a threat to their time, money, pride, or social capital. Most importantly, influence threatens their attention. Attention is in short supply, and they’re already handling hundreds of influence attempts per day from marketing, kids, bosses, and internal temptations. It’s no wonder that when someone realizes you’re trying to influence them, their gut reaction is to say no or tune you out. They meet your pressure with resistance.

But when you make an invitation without any pressure whatsoever, they become inclined to lean forward. It’s one of the aikido moves for handling resistance. All you have to do is add a softener to your request like, “I know you’re probably busy,” or “please don’t say yes unless you really want to do this,” or “would you feel comfortable?”

Keep in mind that people are more likely to say yes to a face-to-face request, and far less likely to respond to a social media post. The pressure and likelihood of saying yes depend on the closeness of the interaction. Use your own judgment about balancing the two, and focus on the long run. Conversion doesn’t happen in one conversation—it happens in a relationship.

2. Influence doesn’t work the way you think because you don’t think the way you think.

Influence isn’t rocket science, but it is a science—which is great news, because that means it can be mastered by nerds like us. If you’ve read other “big idea” books, you may have learned something about what behavioral economists call System 1 and System 2.

In a nutshell, there are two internal systems governing all our thinking and behavior. The first is fast, unconscious, emotional, and instinctive; these are your gut reactions. The second is slow, conscious, effortful, and seemingly rational; these are your deliberate decisions.

Because the unconscious mind is fast, it is the first responder. The conscious mind, being slow, is the second-guesser. This means the unconscious mind has more influence on the conscious mind than vice versa. Gut reactions can, and often do, influence reasoning. Even brain anatomy is designed so that there are far more neurons sending information from the primitive parts of the brain to the prefrontal cortex than there are going in the opposite direction. Furthermore, because the conscious mind can focus on only one thing at a time, it has to ignore most of what’s going on in the world. As a result, people tend to make choices that require the least effort.

We tend to overestimate the conscious system because it’s the only one we can experience, but the unconscious mind is far more powerful. Being influential requires us to focus first and foremost on people’s gut reactions, and on making their path to a choice as easy as possible.

Click Here to Read More https://nextbigideaclub.com/magazine/influence-superpower-science-winning-hearts-sparking-change-making-good-things-happen-bookbite/32208/

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