The science of winning hearts and sparking change



Best-selling author and Yale academic Zoe chance demonstrates how to overcome misconceptions such as the idea that asking for more will make others dislike you and make influence your superpower.

We are born fearless, influential, and powerful, and then we are taught to suppress it all – to wait for our turns, not make waves, and to please others. According to author and Yale professor Zoe Chance, it’s time for us to tap back into that power of influence where negotiation, charisma, and inspiration can play a major part.

Citi Latitude invites you to learn the science of winning hearts and sparking change in an engaging session with Zoe and observe its five key actionable takeaways.


Takeaway 1

It is imperative for all of us who wish to make a positive impact to study and practice the tools of interpersonal influence because if we don’t, then we are just leaving our world in the hands of power-hungry people. By exercising influence, I am implying asking for what you want on behalf of yourself or other people without drawing any boundaries.

It may be that you care a lot about education, justice, growth, security, money or love for instance. Whatever the underlying value or emotion might be, you will need to first establish the frame of influence. Thereafter, master the art of using a range of tactics from humor to empathy, charisma to provocation the right way to get your point across.


Takeaway 2

A fundamental piece of the psychology of influence is an understanding of the two dimensions of social judgment – warmth and competence. We often make snap judgments instantaneously with every single person we meet based on the two. We also tend to have people see, believe, and understand that we’re competent often by neglecting the warmth aspect more than we should. The latter is much stronger and more powerful.

Warmth comes more naturally. It happens much faster and is stickier even in business-critical areas like hiring where we think we hire people for their competence. But actual field research looking at hiring successes finds that warmth is a much more powerful and important influencing quality. Of course, competence matters when it comes to influencing people but over indexing on it at the expense of warmth is a big mistake.


Takeaway 3

There are two systems in our brain that work together – sometimes in collaboration and at other times in conflict – to determine every decision and behavior that we take and engage in. System one is what I call the ‘gator’ and system two is the ‘judge.’

Starting with the latter – it’s about trying to be objective and making good decisions. Like a judge your brain considers evidence, weighs pros and cons, and decides. We tend to think that this is who we are and how other people are because this is the conscious part. However, what we’re neglecting is the far more powerful of these two systems – ‘the gator’, using the analogy of an alligator because it is primal. It lurks below the surface of our conscious mind. It’s largely unconscious and extremely fast. If you try to influence someone, the immediate judgment that they make is going to be visceral, intuitive, and automatic. This is going to be the most important reaction of theirs to you and needs to work out in your favor before they even take the time and the energy to carefully consider the facts and data that you might share with them.


Takeaway 4

Always remember that being influential also requires being ‘influence-able’. Nobody can listen until they feel heard. While you may really want to feel heard and express your point of view, remain cognizant that the other person may not be listening until they believe and feel that you understand their point of view.

So, regardless of the subject matter or issue, try to understand what the deeper values and motivations of those whom you are trying to influence might be, and reflect that back to them in your deliberations. And when you understand the things that they care deeply about, that in turn provides an opening frame to talk about whatever it is that you’re hoping to persuade them of.

Takeaway 5

Finally, take solace in the fact that our families are the hardest people for us to influence because we have this long-term dynamic where they think that they know who we are, how we are, what we’re going to be like, and they are needing to have boundaries with us. But there is no difference in the process between influencing family members and someone like a reluctant employee or colleague.

It all about listening to understand their point of view and showing them that you understand before you go in with your own point of view. For instance, in almost every situation where we have one point of view and we know the other person has a different point of view, we are thinking that their point of view is far removed from ours than how it actually is. It is called false polarization. To be an effective influencer, you need to ditch this false polarization effect and find common ground.