The Secret Skill Shared By All The World’s Great Persuaders (It’s Not What You Think)

HK MOST INFLUENTIAL
© 2016 Bloomberg Finance LP

Sales. Marketing. Persuasion. Influence. As businesspeople, we know mastering these skills are essential to success. As human beings, the idea of them often leaves a bad taste of our mouths. Wasn’t it the masters of mass marketing that got multiple generations of kids hooked on cigarettes and sugar? Aren’t the most sinister dictatorships and death cults helmed by those with the most persuasive personalities?

While Big Tobacco and the Bolshevik Party certainly did come about as a result of machinations by master hype artists, the same can be said about the Rolling Stones and the Civil Rights movement. Persuasion tactics are not evil in and of themselves. The reason psychopaths and narcissists tend to be better than the rest of us at getting large numbers of people to do what they want has less to do with the techniques they deploy and more to do with how they manage their states of mind.

Fortunately, there is a way to tap into the psychological power of master hype artists without sacrificing your soul in the process.  

The Power of Internal States

People with antisocial personality disorders are more detached than the rest of us. While their lack of empathy often wreaks havoc on their personal relationships, it does allow them to coolly make the moves needed to gain particular results.

On the other hand, no matter how hard the rest of us work, or how meticulously we plan, we constantly allow our emotions to sabotage our best efforts. We blurt out exactly the wrong thing at an important meeting. We send an aggressive email in a fit of pique. We spend months planning a marketing campaign and then fire off a tweet on a whim that derails the whole thing.

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t be too hard on yourself. It just means you’re a regular, non-sociopathic human being.

Despite our capacity for reason, most humans spend the majority of our waking hours unconsciously assuaging the seething emotions that afflict us at all times. We might tell ourselves we have logical reasons for doing what we do. Deep down, however, we know most of our actions are designed make ourselves feel better, despite whether the actions in questions help us get what we want in the long run.

To combat this tendency, you must identify ways to cultivate and maintain the state of internal equilibrium that doesn’t come built into your regular-human internal software.

The Art of Self-Regulation

Often, when it comes to engaging in the kinds of activities that allow us to calm our internal states and gain critical distance— whether meditation, exercise, or sleep—we try to figure out how to cram them into our already overloaded schedules. Yet, if we want to successfully influence people, we need to consider these activities first.

The ability to self-regulate is an absolute prerequisite for being effective at persuasion, influence, marketing, and sales. It is this self-regulation that gives us regular decent folks a shot at approximating the strategic cool that the best hype artists naturally possess.

Getting your emotions under control takes a huge amount of discipline. Fortunately engaging in these sorts of practices will make your four hours of work as effective as another person’s ten. If you are able to become a master of self-regulation, every word you speak, sentence you write, and action you take will have incredible influence and impact.

Seek out the resources that will put you on the road to self-regulation. Mindfulness meditation. Vigorous exercise. Clean eating. Or any of the other practices that humans have been using for eons to combat our own bombastic, impulsive natures.

If you have regularly sabotaged your attempts to become influential by failing to control yourself, don’t worry too much about it. Most people in the world are just like you. The true test is whether you will recognize this about yourself and take the steps necessary to change it. If you do, your ability to control the hearts, minds, and behaviors of others will soar.

Get my list of the best (and most unconventional) books about how to control minds and get your way>>

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Sales. Marketing. Persuasion. Influence. As businesspeople, we know mastering these skills are essential to success. As human beings, the idea of them often leaves a bad taste of our mouths. Wasn’t it the masters of mass marketing that got multiple generations of kids hooked on cigarettes and sugar? Aren’t the most sinister dictatorships and death cults helmed by those with the most persuasive personalities?

While Big Tobacco and the Bolshevik Party certainly did come about as a result of machinations by master hype artists, the same can be said about the Rolling Stones and the Civil Rights movement. Persuasion tactics are not evil in and of themselves. The reason psychopaths and narcissists tend to be better than the rest of us at getting large numbers of people to do what they want has less to do with the techniques they deploy and more to do with how they manage their states of mind.

Fortunately, there is a way to tap into the psychological power of master hype artists without sacrificing your soul in the process.  

The Power of Internal States

People with antisocial personality disorders are more detached than the rest of us. While their lack of empathy often wreaks havoc on their personal relationships, it does allow them to coolly make the moves needed to gain particular results.

On the other hand, no matter how hard the rest of us work, or how meticulously we plan, we constantly allow our emotions to sabotage our best efforts. We blurt out exactly the wrong thing at an important meeting. We send an aggressive email in a fit of pique. We spend months planning a marketing campaign and then fire off a tweet on a whim that derails the whole thing.

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t be too hard on yourself. It just means you’re a regular, non-sociopathic human being.

Despite our capacity for reason, most humans spend the majority of our waking hours unconsciously assuaging the seething emotions that afflict us at all times. We might tell ourselves we have logical reasons for doing what we do. Deep down, however, we know most of our actions are designed make ourselves feel better, despite whether the actions in questions help us get what we want in the long run.

To combat this tendency, you must identify ways to cultivate and maintain the state of internal equilibrium that doesn’t come built into your regular-human internal software.

The Art of Self-Regulation

Often, when it comes to engaging in the kinds of activities that allow us to calm our internal states and gain critical distance— whether meditation, exercise, or sleep—we try to figure out how to cram them into our already overloaded schedules. Yet, if we want to successfully influence people, we need to consider these activities first.

The ability to self-regulate is an absolute prerequisite for being effective at persuasion, influence, marketing, and sales. It is this self-regulation that gives us regular decent folks a shot at approximating the strategic cool that the best hype artists naturally possess.

Getting your emotions under control takes a huge amount of discipline. Fortunately engaging in these sorts of practices will make your four hours of work as effective as another person’s ten. If you are able to become a master of self-regulation, every word you speak, sentence you write, and action you take will have incredible influence and impact.

Seek out the resources that will put you on the road to self-regulation. Mindfulness meditation. Vigorous exercise. Clean eating. Or any of the other practices that humans have been using for eons to combat our own bombastic, impulsive natures.

If you have regularly sabotaged your attempts to become influential by failing to control yourself, don’t worry too much about it. Most people in the world are just like you. The true test is whether you will recognize this about yourself and take the steps necessary to change it. If you do, your ability to control the hearts, minds, and behaviors of others will soar.

Get my list of the best (and most unconventional) books about how to control minds and get your way>>

I’m the founder of MicroFame Media, a marketing and strategy agency that turns consultants into niche celebrities. I have worked with companies such as The Medici Group,...