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Episode 82 — Dr. Vanessa Bohns — You Have More Influence Than You Think

"Research has shown that power can cause a lot of negative things, but it can also cause a lot of positive things. The sort of common denominator that power does is it makes people more likely to act in situations, especially situations of ambiguity. People who are in higher positions of power are more likely to actually act." - Dr. Vanessa Bohns

  • How can you accurately assess the influence you have?
  • How do leaders approach power differently?
  • Why are people more inclined to agree than disagree?
  • Why do the people around you impact your decisions more than facts?

Social Butterfly: Understanding interaction

With over 15 years of experience in the field of social psychology, Dr. Vanessa Bohns has made a career of studying the everyday interactions that govern our lives. Her book, “You Have More Influence Than You Think” has received rave reviews from The Financial Times and BBC Worklife, who say it offers an exciting, new, scientific way of thinking about influence.

In her work, Dr. Bohns looks deeper than tips on growing your following and aims to understand how behaviors are passed through social interaction. Legendary author Robert Cialdini states that Vanessa's book is an “enormously empowering call to anyone who has ever felt ineffective or invisible to recognize their power and wield it accordingly.”

Make the Call: Understanding Decisions

In this episode, Dr. Bohns explains social science concepts such as the “invisibility cloak illusion” and the mechanics behind why people conform to perceived social norms. Vanessa believes that “people don't agree to do things because they want to; they agree to do things because it's hard to say no.” Observing the social pressure behind decision-making can help you focus on your priorities when you’re faced with difficult choices.

Of particular relevance to game changers is the “bystander effect,” which addresses how decisions are made in relation to those around you. Bohns provides a number of classic case studies which highlight why certain people take action while others avoid it. Being aware of this phenomenon can be the difference between a true game changer and someone who doesn't step up.

Get Out of Your Own Head

One point Dr. Bohns stresses is that we're limited by our own blind spots. We understand how others impact us, but can't easily see the results of our own behavior. Vanessa recommends “simple exercises where you get out of your own head.” She believes these exercises can help you see how you're perceived and can be the first step to creating a positive impact with everyone you touch.

Key takeaways:

  • Gratitude. Be appreciative of what you have.
  • Awareness. Understand your influence and how it may impact others.
  • Reassurance. Appreciate the influence you already have on those around you.

Links and Resources