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  • Toby Sinclair

Summary: Influence Is Your Superpower by Zoe Chance

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

⭐ Rating: 9/10 - Recommended For: Leaders

3 Big Ideas from Influence Is Your Superpower 💡

  1. We assume that if you want to change behavior you’ll need to build a persuasive case. Win over the mind and the behavior will follow. In reality, much of behaviour is driven by unconscious, fast thinking. The rational brain is not even engaged. Most influence is about working with the irrational, fast-thinking parts of the brain. This part is not persuaded through logic but instead feelings.

  2. The bedrock principle of influencing behavior is this: People tend to take the path of least resistance. Therefore to influence, focus on ease. Make it easier for people to buy into your ideas. Lower the perceived cost of choosing your proposal. When your great idea means asking someone to take a leap of faith, lead them gently toward it, one baby step at a time.

  3. One of the easiest things you can do to become more influential is just ask. Ask more often, ask more directly, and ask for more. People who ask for what they want get better grades more raises and promotions and bigger job opportunities. This might seem obvious but apparently, it isn’t.

2 Best Quotes from Influence Is Your Superpower 💬

Always remember: “No” is a complete sentence.
Charisma isn’t something you are. It’s something you do. You can become more charismatic by adjusting the way you interact with people.

The Metaverse Book summary Image

Tobys Top Takeaway

Coach-like leaders are influential leaders.

They have the ability to create change, direct attention, and move hearts and minds. When you become someone people want to say yes to, you are heavily rewarded. You become a better friend, a more trusted adviser, and a more engaged partner and parent.

The problem.

Many leaders approach influence like a battle to be won. They focus on pushing and directing. Rather than listening and connecting.

Here are ten influence myths:

  1. Pushy = influential. Actually, the opposite is true.

  2. People are persuaded by facts.

  3. People act on values.

  4. Becoming influential involves persuading disbelievers and resistant people.

  5. Negotiation is a battle to be won. There can only be one winner.

  6. Asking for more will make people like you less.

  7. Influential people can get anyone to do anything.

  8. You’re a good judge of character. You can spot a con a mile away.

  9. Your position dictates your influence.

  10. You don’t deserve to have influence.

To influence better, Zoe Chance shares several techniques in her awesome book

My favourites are the power of the pause and saying No!


Big Ideas Expanded 💡

Influence Doesn’t Work the Way You Think

The practice of influence is fueled by desire. So the first question is:

Do you know what you want?

When people are asked if they’d like to be more influential, they say yes—because influence is power. Being influential gives us the ability to create change, direct resources, and move hearts and minds. It acts like gravity, pulling us together into relationships. It’s a path to happiness; to prosperity, that’s meaningful, durable, and contagious. When you become someone people want to say yes to, you are heavily rewarded. You become a better friend, a more trusted adviser, and a more engaged partner and parent.

Influence helps in many situations. Whether you’re negotiating better deals for yourself and others, generating unexpected favors and opportunities for everyone involved, or creating meaningful change in your family, in your community, or even across the whole world, influence is your superpower.

Rather than try to teach you everything about influence this book focuses on the low-hanging fruit—surprising insights, small changes, and manageable actions that have an outsize impact.

We assume that if you want to change behavior you’ll need to build a persuasive case. Win over the mind and the behavior will follow. Most of daily life is driven by automatic, nonconscious mental processes. You can’t influence your gut reactions through conscious effort. You can’t reason yourself into falling in love, despising ice cream, or enjoying parsnips (which are clearly odious). It’s possible to override gut reactions, but it’s not easy. When disgust researcher Paul Rozin asked adults to eat a piece of chocolate shaped like dog doo, 40 percent couldn’t do it. We’re making consequential decisions like whom to vote for and whether or not to sue based on little more than gut reactions, even if we’re telling ourselves a different story. So understanding, predicting, or influencing other people’s behavior should start with their unconscious snap judgements. While we tend to seek out information confirming that we’re right, we also tend to avoid information that might prove us wrong or make us unhappy. Most of us, for most of our lives, with most of the people we know, have been approaching influence backward. We’ve been imagining that influencing people’s behaviors requires changing their minds. This is only sometimes true and rarely enough. Those appeals based on logical, rational arguments are way less persuasive than we think. We’ve also been making the mistake of taking people’s conscious attention for granted when it’s in extremely short supply. After capturing someone’s attention and making it easy for them to say yes, you may still need to craft a rational argument.

10 ways to increase your influence:

  1. Make It Easy

  2. Say No

  3. Just Ask

  4. Use The Right Language

  5. Focus Your Attention On Them

  6. Take a Pause

  7. Find The Right Time

  8. Frame Your Idea

  9. Ask The Magic Question

  10. Expand With Value Creation Questions

Make It Easy

The bedrock principle of influencing behavior is this: People tend to take the path of least resistance. Ease is the single best predictor of behavior. Better than motivation, intentions, price, quality, or satisfaction. There’s a little-known marketing metric for measuring ease called the Customer Effort Score that comes down to a simple question: How easy was it? Ease makes people happy, and effort can really piss people off. One easy place to begin influencing people to do something is to help them remember to do it. Just as ease explains a vast number of things you do, effort explains a lot of the things you don’t do. Most important is perceived effort, rather than actual effort. If you’re trying to influence someone to do something that feels really big, it can help to start small. When your great idea means asking someone to take a leap of faith, lead them gently toward it, one baby step at a time.

Say No

Most people, and especially nice people, have internalized social norms around politeness that put us in an impossible bind. We try to say yes when someone makes a request or invitation because it would be impolite not to. Yet when we ourselves are in need, it seems rude to bother other people by asking for assistance. Somehow, we have been taught to be both generous and self-sufficient without considering how much this depletes us.

Always remember:

“No” is a complete sentence.

And also remember:

It won’t be as bad as you think. People won’t hate you. You may find it exhilarating. And empowering. And practical. And worthy of repeating in your everyday life.

How to Say No:

  • “Thanks, I wish I had time to say yes to invitations like this, but my schedule makes it impossible.”

  • “Thanks for asking, and I would absolutely love to do something like that with you another time.”

  • “Sorry, but I just don’t mix money and friendship.” (It’s easier to say and hear no when it’s part of a policy, although this requires applying it consistently.)

  • “The answer is no, and that’s not going to change.” (Now warmth is no obligation.)

  • “My intuition says no.” If they ask why, you could say, “It’s a gut feeling, and I always listen to those.”

  • “I don’t see that happening yet, but let’s meet to discuss what it will take to get there.”

  • “I’d be happy to do it, but I’m already behind on a couple of other projects. Should we reprioritize what I’ve got on my plate?”

Finally, remember:

You don’t owe anyone an explanation.


Dear Mr. Adams, Thanks for your letter inviting me to join the committee of the Arts and Sciences for Eisenhower. I must decline, for secret reasons. Sincerely, E. B. White

Just Ask

Along with saying no, the easiest thing you can do to become more influential is just ask.

Ask more often, ask more directly, and ask for more.

People who ask for what they want get better grades, more raises and promotions, bigger job opportunities, and even more orgasms. This might seem obvious but apparently, it isn’t.

Most of us are reluctant to ask because we fundamentally misunderstand the psychology of asking and we underestimate our likelihood of success.

In one series of experiments, employees were more likely to turn in mediocre work than to ask for deadline extensions, fearing their supervisor would think them incompetent if they asked for extra time. But they had it backward: Managers saw extension requests as a good sign of capability and motivation.

You may also need to ask more directly. Because sometimes what you think is asking seems more like hinting.If you jump in and ask too directly, you might be considered rude. But if you’re too indirect, your hopes and dreams will go unnoticed.

In addition to not asking often enough and not asking directly enough, you’re probably not asking for enough.

People are more likely to say yes to a smaller request after having said no to a larger one. When you step down from an outrageous ask to something smaller, the other person sees this move as a concession on your part and feels inclined to reciprocate.

The best reason of all for asking (and for making your ask big or outrageous) is that you’ll never know what people will agree to if you don’t ask. You could go for a huge ask in order to create room for a future concession only to find that the other person says yes right away.

Shaquille O’Neal is famous for his generosity.

“When I’m at restaurants, I am a big tipper,” he told Jimmy Kimmel. “I like to show people my appreciation. So when they come up to the table, I say, ‘The quicker I get my order, the bigger your tip will be.’ Then, when we’re getting ready to leave, I’ll ask them: ‘How much do you want?’” What was the most anyone had asked for? Four thousand dollars. And what did he say to that? “Okay, no problem.”

Use The Right Language

When someone lacks power, status, or agency, they tend to focus on their own experience: “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine.”

Higher-status people don’t need to care what others think of them, although some who do care diminish themselves in order to avoid coming across as arrogant or controlling.

What does diminishing language sound like in conversation?

  • “I was just wondering,”

  • “I thought maybe,”

  • “Can I ask a stupid question?”

  • “I’m sorry, but …” (lots of “I”s here, too).

Diminishers express caution and vagueness, as in

  • “kind of,”

  • “sort of,”

  • “it seems,”

  • “generally,”

  • “more or less,”

  • “it’s possible that.”

It is difficult to listen to people who write and talk this way. Their communications require additional decoding.

Focus Your Attention On Them

“Know It Alls” win trivia contests.

Coach-like leaders win influence.

They listen with open minds and healthy scepticism, asking, “How can I improve on that idea?” and “Who else needs to know this?”

When you focus your attention on someone else, they feel seen or understood.

It has been said of many highly charismatic individuals that they can make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world at that moment.

Questions are an easy way to transfer your focus from yourself to the other person. You can replace diminishers with questions, or you can ask the other person about themselves.

Talking about ourselves activates the same areas of the brain as money, sex, and chocolate, which explains why we like people who ask us questions.

Since we enjoy talking about ourselves, we appreciate people who invite us to do so.

Charisma isn’t something you are. It’s something you do. You can become more charismatic by adjusting the way you interact with people.

Take a Pause

Pauses are moments to connect with the audience, to focus attention on listeners while their thoughts are catching up to the present moment.

Pausing not only conveys confidence, but it also requires it.

This key to charisma is so simple that almost no one teaches or practices it, yet it works for speakers and performers of all kinds.

Find The Right Time

When you ask can sometimes matter more than how you ask or even what you’re asking for.

Moments of truth are situations in which someone is particularly likely to be open to your influence.

Moments of truth are relevant in any kind of communication.

When might your boss be more open to discussing a raise?

When might your partner be more open to discussing a move?

If you have a message to share with the world, how can you connect it to current news or current events, issues people are already paying attention to?

Frame Your Idea

Monumental Frame

A monumental frame tells the unconscious mind - pay attention, this is a big freaking deal! It motivates people through importance, size, scope, the fear of missing out, or all of the above. Monumental frames inspire enthusiasm and commitment.

Manageable Frame

A monumental frame can motivate people and inspire them to action, but some problems already feel too big, too daunting. In these cases, you might frame them as manageable instead. A monumental frame emphasizes why (It’s important!), and a manageable frame emphasizes how (It’s not that hard). You’ve already learned that ease is the best predictor of behavior; that’s why a manageable frame is so powerful. Achieving small, immediate goals creates a sense of momentum and persistence in the pursuit of larger ones. A manageable frame can be particularly effective when you want to help people who are facing fears, grief, or doubts.

Mysterious Frame

This is effective because it disrupts this guessing process and the expectations that go with it. Words and phrases like “new,” “suddenly,” or “breaking news” are mysterious frames that spark curiosity about what has changed. Words like “mystery,” “secret,” or “reveal,” or topics framed as questions spark that same underlying uncertainty that piques our curiosity.


What frame is "Climate Change"?

Research shows that it is neither monumental or manageable.

Instead, what frame does Climate Crisis or Climate Emergency offer?

Research has shown this yields a more influential response.

Putting it all together

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  • Life-Changing = Monumental!

  • Magic = Mysterious!

  • Tidying Up = Manageable!

All three frames in just six words.

Could the book have done as well if it had been published under its subtitle, “The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”? You decide.

Ask The Magic Question

What would it take?

The Magic Influence Question

What if you just asked:

  • “What would it take for me to get to the next step in my career?”

  • “What would it take for me to be at the top of the salary band for this role?”

As a manager, how would you feel if an employee asked you these questions? You’d probably be glad to explain, “Here’s what needs to happen.”

Why does this question work?

  1. It’s a catalyst for creativity. “What would it take?” is an invitation to ditch conventional ideas and consider a new approach.

  2. It conveys respect. By posing it, you’re acknowledging that you’re not the expert on the other person’s situation, or their needs, or their obstacles to striking a deal. They are.

  3. It can unearth important information. Novel ideas you may never have considered.

  4. It moves the conversation away from confrontation, toward collaboration. That’s what creativity, respect, and information can do for you.

Expand With Value Creation Questions

You can look for opportunities to create value by coming up with even better ideas before, during, or after a negotiation.

  • How could this be even better for me?

  • How could it be even better for them?

  • Who else could benefit?

Influencing Difficult People - Use Leverage

Most people are open to collaboration and prefer it to competition, so when you start a negotiation by conveying friendliness and flexibility, your behavior usually elicits similar warmth and open-mindedness in your counterpart.

When you find yourself negotiating with a difficult person, or preparing to, focus on leverage.

  • What do they have that you want?

  • What do you have that they want?

  • What does each side stand to lose (including pride)?

  • Can you improve your alternatives?

If you feel like you don’t have much leverage, consider the possibility that you might be wrong.

“I’m somebody who posts a lot of reviews online and I enjoy posting positive ones. I rarely post a negative one, but I’m so frustrated right now that I’m tempted to. Can’t we please find some fair resolution?”

Beware: The Red Flags of Manipulation

Red flag #1: “The Ether”

Ether is that fuzzy state when your emotions are stirred up and you’re so agitated that you won’t know which way is up and which is down. Once I have gotten you into this condition, it doesn’t matter how smart or dumb you are. Ether trumps intelligence every time.

Red flag #2: Urgency

Urgency comes from the fear of not having enough, whether it’s time, supply, or opportunity. Fear of missing out (FOMO) can lead us to do things we’d never dream of under ordinary circumstances.

Red flag #3: Exclusivity

Whereas urgency is an appeal to your inner two-year-old (You can’t have this), exclusivity plays to your inner teenager (Do you want to be one of the cool kids?).

Red flag #4: Too Good to Be True

Everyone has heard the saying ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.’ But when it comes to our own selves, we tend to latch on to that ‘probably.

Maria Konnikova - The Confidence Game

Red flag #5: Half-Truths

In the movie Elf, Will Ferrell plays a man raised by elves in the North Pole. Shortly after his arrival in New York City, he notices a sign outside a diner and runs inside, joyfully exclaiming, “You did it! Congratulations! ‘World’s Best Cup of Coffee.’ Great job, everybody, great to meet you!” His naïveté is funny because we’re so used to ignoring claims like this. Everyone knows that a sign touting the world’s best cup of coffee doesn’t mean anything. But when you think about it, it really does. It means that whoever says this stuff really doesn’t care if it’s true or not.

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