Persuasion vs Influence
Despite the fact that people interchange the terms persuasion and influence, there are differences between them. Persuasion is reasoning with someone so that he would believe or do something. Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to affect the manner of thinking of another. Both terms have deep meanings for someone who aspires to be a good leader, as both persuasion and influence can be used for motivation. In this context, they are motivational techniques. At a glance, the use of these two techniques of motivating and guiding the behavior and attitude of those in your team to achieve a common objective seems to be one and the same. However, there are underlying differences in influence and persuasion which need to be understood, in order to use one or a combination of both, to be more effective and efficient as a leader. This article attempts to clarify the difference between persuasion and influence while elucidating the terms.
What is Persuasion?
First, when examining the word persuasion, it can be understood as a method of changing someone’s behavior. Persuasion is usually a deliberate attempt where the persuader wishes to alter the course of action of the individual through communication. Reasoning with the individual is one such technique. If you are successful, persuasion is said to have been at work. Some great leaders and orators have the power of the gab. They are great orators and can sway the opinion and behavior of others easily. Even in our daily life, persuasion takes place. For an example, there is a party at one of your friend’s places, and you decide not to go because you have to study for an exam that is scheduled for the next day. While you are studying, you get a phone call from a friend and after talking with her for a while, you are also planning on going for the party. In such an instance, the friend has persuaded you to alter your course of action through effective communication. This highlights that persuasion is the ability to sway the opinion of others by presenting your case in a very effective manner. People who are persuaded become motivated to do what you want.
What is Influence?
Influence is different from persuasion. Whenever there is a change in a person’s thoughts, feelings or behavior because of another person’s personality, then influence is said to have taken place. Great leaders have this ability or charisma to make others behave or do what they want without actually saying it in words. Both influence and persuasion have the common objective of making a change in a person’s behavior or attitude, but whereas persuasion requires you to communicate, influence works silently without you having to make any effort. For an example, business is a time sensitive environment. You do not have an eternity to get your employees or team members motivated to achieve a common objective. Though persuasion is a handy technique in any circumstance, influence is preferred by most leaders as it is based upon trust and credibility, which are lacking in persuasion. There are situations where influence would be a better option. If persuasive techniques are used there, the leader is often seen as a manipulator and any compliance on the part of the team members or employees is temporary at best. For an example, it is possible to sell combs to bald men through persuasive techniques. However, they will feel cheated when they realize that combs are of no use to them and that you have sold them what they do not need. Suddenly, all the trust for a person who persuaded is gone. In contrast, attitude and behavioral change that results because of influence is longer and has better results. In the presence of trust, both influence and persuasion work satisfactorily.
What is the Difference Between Persuasion and Influence?
- Persuasion refers to the altering of behavior through reasoning, whereas, in the term influence, the change comes through the personality.
- Both Persuasion and influence are great tools in the hands of any leader.
- Though both seek to create a change in behavior and attitudes, their methods are different.
- While persuasion requires communication, influence works without any communication, and the employees are motivated to do what the leader wants.
1. “Paul Ryan with Barack Obama 02-25-10” by The White House from Washington, DC – P022510PS-0748. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons
2. “Gandhi spinning” by Unknown – gandhiserve.org. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons