Defense Against the Dark Arts of Influence: Crash Course Business Soft Skills #2

How do con artists manage to scam millions? Why do people choose to follow great leaders, or horrible ones? How do CEOs get better deals in the boardroom? Influence It goes by a lot of names

Emotional intelligence Manipulation Social skills Influence is an important tool that drives business decisions and social interactions But, like all those Spider-Man reboots have taught us, with great power comes great responsibility

Uncle Ben Influence has a dark side too, and can be used to pressure people into making some pretty bad decisions So this is basically our defense against the dark arts episode Except instead of Avada Kedavra, we’re going to fend off some “Influencias Malus” and teach you how to use influence for good I’m Evelyn from the Internets

And this is Crash Course Business: Soft Skills [Intro Music Plays] Last time, we talked about the rational reasons for trusting other people But you also trust people because of emotional reasons, like your gut instinct when you first meet them Sometimes, emotional cues can match up with cognitive trust Maybe someone’s giving you really bad vibes, and when you scroll down their Twitter feed, your suspicions are confirmed! I'm not about to get dragged on Black Twitter with you! Or your gut might be trying to get you out of a situation that feels dangerous

In the words of My Favorite Murder, if you’re freaked: Pepper spray first Apologize later Then, there’s the flip side You might feel good about someone who turns out not to be trustworthy That smooth-talking ex, for example

Or a quirky professor who was actually hiding Voldemort on the back of his head the whole time Influence relies heavily on charisma If someone’s more likeable, they tend to be trusted more easily and can influence others As we’ve seen from the #MeToo movement, or really anytime a popular person does a horrible thing, having charisma does not mean someone has good character or is good at their job Charisma isn’t always nefarious, though

It can be used as a force of good — to help you make a great first impression or give a persuasive public speech And it’s not some magical gift that’s bestowed upon you Charisma is a skill you can build over time with the personality traits you’ve got Tons of factors play a role But to keep it simple, here are three things that leading organizational psychologists say can make you more likeable: confidence, praise, and optimism

[That’s it Three things You got this] Plus, they can also help you think about why you’re trusting a charismatic person, and whether or not you should Confidence is the number one way to build charisma and emotional influence

It makes you seem more relaxed and capable in high-pressure situations Capable people aren’t always as confident as they could be Maybe you’re shy, or have impostor syndrome and you’re afraid you don’t belong at your job Well, we’ve got your back! You deserve to be recognized for your achievements, and there are ways to make yourself shine Black Girl Magic

For example, you can avoid uncertain language, like ‘maybe,’ ‘in my opinion,’ ‘I think’ or ‘I could be wrong’ Sure, if you’re a journalist trying to separate your opinion and a citation, these phrases can be helpful But in business writing, they can make it seem like you doubt yourself And if you know it, show it! Simple things like using good posture, projecting your voice, and making direct eye contact can signal confidence Some people use power posing

And hey, if striking a pose in the bathroom mirror pumps you up, keep at it But there’s no solid proof that this actually builds confidence In general, faking it ‘till you make it is pretty solid advice But if you aren’t sure what you’re talking about, you can leave things to experts instead of risking your credibility All of these tips can also help you analyze why someone else might seem confident, so you don’t misplace your trust

Leslie Knope was confident But she also really knew her stuff and had the policy proposals, experience, and binders to prove it On the other hand, Bobby Newport had a ton of rich, white man confidence, but he was full of air So, avoid being influenced just because someone acts like they know what they’re doing Look for cognitive cues like competence, intent, and integrity too

But charisma isn’t just about confidence It’s also about how you interact with other people, which involves way more than just being polite Praise is a powerful motivator It’s why seeing a gold star on a report card feels so good Sometimes people underestimate the importance of intrinsic motivators like recognition

And they overestimate extrinsic motivators, like money or time off Don’t get me wrong Equitable pay is a real thing that needs to happen None of this “working for exposure or Instagram followers” stuff You need to put food on the table, and bonus checks are valuable

But on top of having the time and money to live comfortably, positive feedback can make sure people feel that their work is valued throughout the year Too much praise can make you come across as fake, though And watch out for people who only say nice things when they want a favor — they might seem trustworthy at first glance, but it’s manipulative Positive feedback makes others feel good Optimism can make you feel good, which shows

While no one can be Chris Traeger, trying to adopt a positive attitude will literally make you more charismatic This can work wonders for your vibe, your motivation, and your career Malcolm Forbes, you know, the guy that published the fancy business magazine in waiting rooms everywhere, once said “The key to success is not through achievement, but through enthusiasm” There are things beyond our control that can drastically affect optimism, from tough events like the death of a loved one, to mental health conditions that may require professional treatment Generally, though, you can become more optimistic by learning from mistakes in the past, finding things to appreciate in the present, and looking forward to future opportunities

You know those inspirational posters from the 90’s? “Yesterday is history Tomorrow is a mystery Today is a gift That's why it is called the present” Really, optimism involves having a balanced outlook

And sometimes, it’s better to look before you leap If someone’s blindly optimistic about a situation, but you’re not 100%, don’t be afraid to do your own research Now, charisma is a powerful form of influence that works even when people don’t know each other very well But the best way to genuinely build emotional influence is to form strong relationships based on mutual honesty and respect So treat your coworkers like humans! Try using people’s names, and pronounce them correctly

It’s an easy thing to do, and makes a big impact And find some common ground with them Maybe you’re in the same department, in the same screenwriting class, or share the same fandom Beyhive, anyone? Mutual pettiness can bring people together, too Remember when people were all about Twilight and whether Bella should end up with Jacob or Edward? There were t-shirts

It was a whole thing But as we all know from Thanksgiving dinner, some topics can be touchy, like religion or politics So be thoughtful about what conversations you bring into the workplace So you know how we keep bringing up the light and dark sides of influence? Well, another huge part of that is how humans frequently judge things based on looks Like, you’d probably trust a car from a fancy dealership more than a vacant lot with a cardboard sign saying “carz 4 sale heer

” So appearances matter It might seem superficial, but your look contributes to professionalism, which impacts promotions, job interviews, and acceptance in the workplace The good news is that you can control big pieces of your appearance Do your hair Brush your teeth

Don’t show up to work in pajamas with pizza stains from your Stranger Things binge last night It shows you take your job seriously if you wear clothing that fits your office and profession Some businesses have dress codes, uniforms, or frown upon people wearing something drastically different So find ways to express yourself that fit your workplace, like wearing that vintage dress you love, or trying to pull off a polka dot bow tie But remember that not all aspects of appearance are within your control — we have messy biases based on gender, race, or even arbitrary things like attractiveness

And yeah… a lot of the time, it sucks You can’t help it if you look eerily similar to someone’s manipulative ex, or if your resting face is… angry And sometimes what’s deemed professional isn’t necessarily fair, like dress code policies on natural hair So it’s important to recognize what drives your reasoning for trust Like, have you put too much trust in the demure old lady in pink, when really she has a horrible track record and may be entirely unhinged? To see how all these elements tie together, let’s go to the Thought Bubble

Bernie Madoff was an incredibly charismatic and well-liked businessman He treated his employees like family He appeared to value loyalty and honesty Now, he’s known as the ‘Wizard of Lies’ Madoff swindled customers and employees out of almost 65 billion dollars through one of the most costly and destructive Ponzi schemes of all time

Ponzi schemes are large-scale investment frauds, where initial investors contribute money into a fake business They get quick returns, which lures more investors, who are all paid out of the same pot It works for a while, until the pot runs out and everything crumbles Madoff’s entire persona was crafted to inspire confidence He had a well-manicured look, tailored suits, and high-end watches

And he seemed likeable, competent, and dependable So some very knowledgeable investors trusted Madoff, despite seemingly impossible returns Which just goes to show that anyone can be susceptible to emotional influence That’s why it’s so important in business — and everywhere else — to think about why you’re trusting someone Just because someone has the latest ferrari and a custom suit, it doesn’t mean they’re not a snake oil salesman

Pause for a second when a confident and optimistic person seems like they’re selling you something that’s way too good be true If it feels like they’re glossing over key parts of their business model, trust your gut and ask questions And if they start using flattery to distract you while you’re questioning them, maybe reconsider who you’re dealing with Remember cognitive trust? Check their qualifications See if they have good intent and a history of delivering on their promises

That way, you can put the puzzle pieces together to make a more complete picture of their character, and protect yourself from influential but shady people Thanks, Thought Bubble! Together, your actions, attitude, and appearance can affect how others see you and the influence you have in the workplace and beyond So take time to think about the way you’re being perceived by others, and always use your influence wisely Don’t make anyone do something they’ll regret later Of everything we talked about, remember these key takeaways: Influence should be used responsibly, and you can use cognitive trust and emotional cues to protect yourself from people who abuse it

You can up your charisma by acting confident, praising others, and being optimistic Finding common ground is the foundation of relationships and can increase your trustworthiness Appearances do matter Now that we’ve covered the foundations of building trust and influence, we can tackle the power of communication Next time, we’ll look at written work and making sure you’re sending the right message

Crash Course Business is sponsored by Google, and it’s made with the help of all these nice people and Thought Cafe is our amazing animation team Crash Course is a Complexly production If you wanna keep imagining the world complexly with us, you can check out some of our other channels like Nature League, with host Brit Garner as she explores life on Earth and asks questions that inspire us to marvel at all things wild Also, if you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everybody, forever, you can support the series at Patreon; a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love Thank you to all of our patrons for making Crash Course possible with their continued support

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