If you step back to think about an influence situation of political speech for example you’ll quickly realize that there are quite a few moving pieces that could have an impact on the outcome. This is valid for a business and career influence situation or for an entrepreneur in the pursuit of success.

The ATTiC Model for business and career influence

To organize these pieces into a useful scheme for an entrepreneur starting a business or in a career we can identify four basic components that play a critical role for a successful influence attempt: first there’s the politician, then there’s the content and delivery of the speech itself, next is the crowd and finally there’s the setting.

And, really, the four components that contribute to the success or failure of this political, or for our purpose, business or career related speech, can be detected in almost every influence attempt.

So let’s give each of these four components of a more general name that we can apply to any situation of business and career where someone tries to persuade or influence others:

  • first let’s call the politician the agent – in any business and career situation the agent is the person who’s trying to influence someone else;
  • second let’s call the crowd the target – in any business and career related situation the target is the person or group whom the agent is trying to influence;
  • third we can generalize the content and delivery of the speech itself by referring to as tactics – every influence attempt involves a set of tactics. In other words what an agent says or does to accomplish her aims is important for success;
  • fourth and finally the setting of that I was speech is nothing other than the context – agents and targets don’t operate in a vacuum. They’re surrounded by circumstances that shape their business and career interactions. That’s context.

Okay! So, we have agent, target, tactics and context. And, knowing this is useful for every entrepreneur. You’ll want to remember those four key components of business and career influence because we will be returning to them time and time again throughout the course to make it easier to remember.

An acronym from the first letter of each component would be ATTiC. Just like the Apple Corporation, let’s make liberal use of the letter i to put a vowel adding and we get ATTiC.

Agent, Target, Tactics and Context – what matters for an influence attempt in business and career

If you want to know why a particular business and career influence attempt results in conflict, commitment or compliance look in the ATTiC. ATTiC is more than an acronym, though it’s it’s a useful metaphor, many factors that determine the success or failure of influence operate outside of our conscious awareness.

Take the agent for example, the person who’s trying to influence us with more or less success. Sometimes we meet someone and find her immediately trustworthy or likable and then we find her claims and arguments so compelling that we base our business decisions on that.

Bob Cialdini author of the worldwide bestseller Influence: Science and Practice, talks about influence often happening in a click. It’s as if a switch was activated and then an automatic routine, words into action. Something about the agent, or maybe it’s the tactic, that quickly kicks in a psychological process that ends up with compliance or commitment, without any intervening conscious thought.

In this way the four factors are very much like the attic of your house. Your attic is always there that’s always doing what it does even when you aren’t thinking about it. In the same way factors that make us susceptible to influence are built into our basic psychology and often operate outside of our conscious awareness.

That’s why it’s important for you to learn as much as possible about agent, target, tactics and context. The better you understand the natural mechanisms that result in influence the more you can use them to your advantage as an entrepreneur and understand them when someone is using them against you in your business or your career.