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The Workplace Sorcery of Chameleons and Mimics

Source | LinkedIn : By Jonah Berger

Navigating workplace dynamics can be tough. You have to make the right decisions and avoid the wrong ones, motivate yourself (and others) to achieve common goals, and make all of this work without ruffling anyone feathers. Tough stuff.

But as I talk about in Invisible Influence, there’s a simple, subtle tool that can help us do all this better: social influence. We think our actions are driven by our own thoughts and preferences, but we’re wrong.

Peers have a huge impact on everything we do, from the day-to-day decisions we make to the careers we follow.

Below are three common workplace challenges: being more influential, making better group decisions, and motivating ourselves and others, and some simple ways social influence can help us do them better. Like a Jedi would.

How to Be More Influential

1. Be a chameleon.

Trying to convert a job interview or convince a client? Subtly imitating the language, behavior, or facial expressions of other eases interactions. Mimicry increases liking, trust, and affiliation. It makes negotiators five times more likely to reach an agreement and increases waiters’ tips by 70%. So don’t just listen; emulate. If an interviewer leans back on their chair and crosses their legs, do the same. If a client starts emails with “Hey” instead of “Dear,” adopt that language. Subtle shifts can deepen social bonds and turn strangers into allies.

2. Make Consensus Visible.

In many group decision making contexts, people are looking to others to figure out what to do. So to sway the group your way, build consensus for your side and make that support easily observable. Nobody likes waiting in line, yet people often flock to restaurants or attractions that have lines out the door. Why? Because they assume if others are doing something it must be good. So build your own virtual line of backers. Find people who already agree with you, and use their support to convince those on the fence. Start with the easiest to persuade and build from there. Let the next person know that the first person already supports it. The more people know others support you, the easier it will be to convince them

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