How to Influence Others Ethically

Two Methods:Short term influenceLong term influence

There are many situations where it may be necessary to try to influence or manipulate others. It may be talking to your boss about a raise, convincing the police that you didn't do anything wrong or trying to calm a hysterical person down. In this short article I will show effective ways to do this and how to recognise if someone is trying to influence you. I do not promote lying or cheating in any way to get something. Use these methods ethically.

Method 1
Short term influence

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    With "short" term I mean people you will most likely not meet again, complete strangers or maybe even clients for your business. Most people will trust the judgement of experts or people with great influence at face value (sadly). So if you wear some kind of uniform or if you have some sort of diploma showing that you are an expert, people are a lot more likely to trust and believe you. Another way to do this is to get someone else to say how good you are. If you have a receptionist, make sure they inform the caller of your expertise. For example, "you are going through a divorce and need help? Let me redirect you to our senior partner who has 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE in helping people JUST LIKE YOU."
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    Reciprocity, the obligation to give when you receive. If you are a waiter and rely heavily on tips to get by then you should try giving small gifts to your guests. It can be anything small such as some chocolate or some candy to something larger, making a special meal that you do not necessarily serve JUST FOR THEM. For best results make sure that the gift is personalised. Like "You seemed to really like this bottle of wine so have another, on the house."
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    If it is the last of something, people are more likely to buy it, for example one time offers or sales. Make sure that they understand the benefits of buying the project, what is unique about it and what they will lose if they do not buy it. Scarcity, people want more of what they can't have.
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    If someone is unsure about how to behave they will most likely look at the actions of others. Instead of relying on your own abilities you can just point out how so many others are already doing it. Especially if they are similar to them. This is a kind of herd mentality. Safety in numbers in other words.

Method 2
Long term influence

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    Influencing someone in the long run is completely different then influencing someone for just a moment. When I say the long run I mean anything from 6 months to 10 years. The first step you need to do is make them like you. They need to value your opinion. The easiest way to make someone like you is to find common ground and focusing on that instead of the things you might disagree on. Lets say that you like hamburgers and someone else also likes hamburgers. You like this person and want to become closer with them. Now, this person believes abortion is murder and should be illegal and you strongly disagree. This topic, and topics connected/related to this, should obviously be avoided. Now this was a VERY obvious example but look out for conflicting opinions in the starting stages in a relationship. It is also important to pay them genuine and kind compliments. It makes them feel appreciated and shows that you value them in whatever you compliment them one.
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    Now, around 2 weeks have gone by. You know them and they know you. You have spent (hopefully) a couple of hours with each other. The next step is gift giving. Not necessarily gifts but anything you don't HAVE to do for them, for example favours or "I saw how much you like this bottle of scotch so I got you one". Anything that makes them "indebted" to you. They are a lot more likely to listen to you and do favours for you if they owe you. This is called Reciprocity.
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    The next step is one of the most difficult ones. Do not focus all your time on this person. Have hobbies, sports and other friends to show that this person is not your main center of attention. Turn them down if they ask you to go out (if you have other plans). It is a sort of abundance mentality. It makes the time you do spend with them that much more important. Your "time value" goes up the less you give out. This could be called Scarcity. People want more of those things they can't have.
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    The next and final step is the last push that shows if your efforts were worthwhile or for naught. Get them to do favours for you. If it is some sort of organisation or company make sure that each favour makes them seem more and more important to the future goal/vision. Start small and work your way up. A famous version of this is to ask someone for a pencil. Then they ask themselves, "Why am I doing this person a favour? Must be because I like them." This step is a little more complex than that, for example you ask someone to put up a sign that supports a certain on their car, then put up a sign on their front lawn etc. Finally you ask them to speak about this topic publicly in front of a crowd. If you were to ask this person to first speak out about this topic publicly most would say no or refuse, but if you build it up then more would say yes. You should obviously have more favours to build it up if it is something really huge that could get them in trouble, like smuggling. Now this may seem very manipulative, but there are more positive ways to use this. If you know someone with social anxiety you can get them to first sing or hold a speech in front of you, then 10 people, 50, 100, 10,000 and suddenly it is completely natural for them. Schools use this method all the time. They build you up with different levels of stress, difficulty and rules in the different grades until you get used to it and then they add more stress, difficulty and rules until you finally graduate. If you were to ask a 12 year old to handle the amount of stress and difficulty of assignments, that are at their level of knowledge, that a senor at college has to face then most would fall and give up.


  • It is important to know the person you are trying to influence. How they will react to certain things? What to avoid bring up? Are they really confident or really insecure?


  • If giving a gift, make sure that the recipient does not need to maintain or pay in any way for the gift, for example a dog or a phone plan. Those are the worst.
  • It can be dangerous to do this to family members or people who are socially savvy if you are trying to influence them negatively.

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Categories: Merge | Social Interactions