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
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Crash Course possible with their continued support..

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