What is it about some people that makes them capable of captivating even pull you away from something you’d rather be doing? What are the the characteristics of an effective business and career influencing agent?

Agent, target, tactics and context in business and career influencing

Imagine you were just sitting down to dinner at home not at your office doing your business, savoring the smell of one of your favorite meals. You pick up your fork to get that first bite and the bell rings and rings. You put down the fork and reluctantly walk away from the meal and take a look standing at your door. Who is it? You ask.

It’s someone conducting a door-to-door survey. Not relevant for you as entrepreneur or for your career. You think: “seriously, visiting during my dinner hour?!” But the person begins to talk and somehow miraculously you’re taken in and find yourself not only answering the questions but also happily chatting away with this visitor. Who could cause you to abandon your favorite meal and answer a survey?

What is it about some people that makes them capable of captivating with success and even pull you away from something you’d rather be doing? In our last article we introduced the concept of ATTiC, an acronym and metaphor for the four key factors that contribute to success or failure of influence.

Can you remember what those four factors are? That’s right agent, target, tactics and context! In this article we are going to take a closer look at the A in ATTiC the agent or person who’s trying to influence someone else. We’ll also identifies some of the most important characteristics of the influential agent and will explore how those characteristics play out in real world situations.

The Agent in the ATTiC business and career influence model

Let’s review what we know about agent’s characteristics. We discussed liking – incidental similarity makes a difference, similarity led to liking which allowed agents in effect to be more persuasive. What other characteristics of people lead to liking and more effective influence?

Let’s start with an agent characteristic that’s literally right in front of your eyes, but that you may not associate with influence. I’m talking about beauty, physical attractiveness. We often hear beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is true that people have different tastes and preferences for a wide variety of things which is why people like different foods in cars and houses cell phones and clothing.

But when it comes to people what does research say about our perceptions of beauty and how it relates to influence?  University of Texas professor Judy Langlois and her colleagues examined research results across hundreds of studies testing to see whether perceptions of physical attractiveness varied across people and cultures and whether judgments of attractiveness correlate with other judgments about people.

For example, when someone is more attractive is that person also judged to be more intelligent? Across 67 studies they found fairly high agreement about what constituted more and less physically attractive individuals. Agreement was even higher cost ethnicities and cultures and for judgments of children as well as adults. But more about this in the next article.