What are the factors that determine whether you are able to successfully influence your colleagues and see the show you really want to see? And, how is this working for an entrepreneur or in a business or career context?

The ATTiC concept, a real business and career example

To familiarize you with the ATTiC concept in a business and career environment I’m going to make use of a real-world scenario that might be familiar to any of the entrepreneurs reading this, that we can revisit throughout the rest of the articles on this topic. Here’s the situation:

Imagine you and three business associates are on a trip into the city, your work is done for the day and you’re enjoying a meal at a restaurant together. You’ve agreed to use the remainder of your free night to spend more time together, but you haven’t decided what to do next.

Your preference is to see a musical that’s been on your wish list for over a year. Another member of the group proposes a walking tour. What are the factors that determine whether you are able to successfully influence your colleagues and see the show you really want to see?

We’re going to answer that question in terms of the four corners of the ATTiC: agent, target, tactics and context.

First though let me say a brief word about business ethics. For some of you influence may sound like a bad word and as we’ll see in future articles it does indeed have a dark side. There are people who use tricks and lies to get what they want and to have success.

It’s important to state up front that there are also ethical and honest ways to persuade others and through this article. I will encourage you to stick to these ways. With that in mind, let’s get back to our question: what factors come into play when I’m trying to influence my colleagues to see that musical downtown?

Let’s begin by finding out what research has to say about the A in our acronym the agent. A few moments ago I mentioned Bob Cialdini who is an emeritus professor from Arizona State University.

According to Cialdini, liking is a major principle of successful influence, in other words an agent success often comes down to how well he or she is a light by other people, the target in particular.

When people like you they are more likely to listen to your arguments and be convinced by them. They’re also more likely to want to please you and go along with what it is you want or desire.

The agent in the ATTiC model for business and career influencing

But, that’s what makes people like an agent of influence in business in the first place? Obviously there are many pathways to liking, but one very important one is the perceived similarity, when people see you is similar to them in some fashion they automatically and, I by my dad almost immediately, like you more.

To illustrate let me explain the results of two studies published by Prof. Jerry Burger and his colleagues from Santa Clara University. In study one female undergraduates were brought into a room one at a time and told to fill out a survey while sitting next to another student.

This second student was actually working with the experimenter, she is what social psychologists call a research confederate. As part of the experiment the confederate surreptitiously glances at the participant survey to learn her birthday.

After the survey was completed the experimenter asked a series of questions to both women at once, eventually coming around to asking their birthdays. The research confederate would always speak up first.

Half of the time the confederate would give the birthday that differed from the participant, we’ll call that the control condition, the other half of the time the confederate would claim to have the exact same birthdate.

After questioning the students, the experimenter would leave the room and at this point the confederate would ask the participant for a favor she explained in English class assignment required her to find someone she did not know to critique an essay she’s written.

She said “I wonder if you could read this eight page essay for me and give me one page of written feedback on whether my arguments are persuasive and why”. In the control condition just over one third agreed to help 34% in the same a birthday condition nearly 2/3 agreed to help 62%.

In other words nearly twice as many subjects agreed to provide feedback on that essay when they thought the requester was similar to them in some fashion, in this case because they happen to share the same birthday.