How to Develop Instant Influence

Do you wish you were more influential? If so, you might want to read what we’ve got to say about a book called Instant Influence.

We read it, we loved it and we want to share what we learned with you.

Obviously you don’t have to read this article (or watch the accompanying video). But how might it benefit you if you did?  

Before we continue we’ll give you a chance to consider that question. Here it is again ...

If you were to learn how to be more influential how might that help you?

Instant Influence is a book by Michael Pantalon, a PhD and award winning faculty member from the Yale school of medicine. We fully endorse this book because it’s brilliantly written and makes the topic of influence seem … so simple.

But let’s face the truth. You’re not going to read this because we say you should.

Seriously.

Instead, you’re much more likely to do so because of the question we asked you to consider a moment ago.

“How might this help you?”

And with that said, let’s outline the three guiding principles of this system. We’re going to share this verbatim from his book.

The 3 Guiding Principles of Instant Influence

  1. No one absolutely has to do anything. The choice is always yours.
  2. Everyone already has enough motivation.
  3. Focusing on any tiny bit of motivation works much better than asking about resistance.

The first two steps can be neatly summed up with one word:

Autonomy.

If you only remember one single word from this article autonomy is that one word. In a nutshell, it means that people want the freedom to choose their own actions.We hate feeling like we’re being controlled. We prefer to do what we want to do. 

Sure, people may threaten our freedom. They can tell us what we have to do, or tell us what we’re not allowed to do. But we almost always react negatively to this, and still wind up doing what we want to do.

When we are given autonomy it reinforces our freedom. So if you choose to remember anything from this blog post, that’s a great choice. 

Paradoxically, if you give people a sense of autonomy your power to influence them grows tremendously.

But what about motivation? Psychologist Michael Pantalon explains that everyone already has enough motivation. What does this mean?

In essence, it’s all about baby steps. Many of us have a hard time imagining the journey’s end. But almost none of us have trouble imaging the first few steps.

And when we break a problem down into baby steps we’re usually motivated enough to begin working on it. But we don’t usually start something unless we know our own reasons for doing so.

Hence our repeated focus on this hugely important subject of autonomy. When we have our own reasons for doing things it beats the pants off the “tell and sell” approach where someone else tries to convince us of their reasons that we should do something.

The Instant Influence process always begins with statements that reinforce the other person’s autonomy. A few examples include:

  • This is your choice, not mine
  • This is completely up to you,
  • Of course you're completely free to decide.
  • This decision is yours to make as you choose.

Now let’s dive straight into the 6-step process of Instant Influence. Let’s go through the steps and then we can unpack each step so it’s easy for you to understand and apply right after you finish reading/watching this post/video.

The Six Steps to Instant Influence

  1. Ask "Why Might You Change?"
  2. Ask "How ready are you to change on a scale of 1 to 10?"
  3. Ask "Why didn't you pick a lower number?"
  4. Ask "Imagine you've changed, What would the positive outcomes be?"
  5. Ask Why are these outcomes important to you?
  6. Ask "What is the next step, if anything?"

Each of these steps is brilliantly crafted to uncover and amplify the other person’s reasons for making a change. This is why the process works so well.

Now is probably a good time to explain something super important: There must be a real benefit for the other person. You’re not going to be able to use this process to convince a stranger to hand over the ownership for his Tesla, or pay for your child’s university tuition. At least not unless there’s some compelling reason that benefits them.

But if someone is struggling to lose weight, get a better job, complete a project, show up to work on time or get out of an abusive relationship … this method is pure gold.

Let's unpack each of the 6 steps.

Step 1 is to ask "Why might you change?"

When you ask “why”, it’s like pointing a camera lens at the topic of your question. So if you were to ask someone “why haven’t you been coming to work on time”, you’re aiming the lens at the problem, which tends to reinforce the problem. This is not what you want!

But if you point the lens at a goal instead of a problem, asking why works just fine. It amplifies someone’s own reasons for wanting something, which drives their motivation.

So instead of “Why are you always late for work?” you’re now asking “Why might it be a good idea to show up on time?”

Notice that the wording of this question is not instructive. You are in no way telling the other person what to do. You’re just asking why it might be a good idea. And you’ve done this after reinforcing the person’s autonomy.

You’re ready to move on from this step when the other person gives you a genuine answer to this question.

Sometimes people don’t quite listen to the question. You might ask someone “Why might you want to quit smoking?” and their reply might be “Well, I’ve tried to quit and it’s really hard. You just don’t understand!”Instant Influence teaches a simple technique that looks a whole lot like the “Agree and Repeat” strategy that we teach.You simply agree with the person and repeat your question.

You might say, “I “know it’s been hard for you to quit. But what are some of the reasons why you might want to quit?”All you’re doing is acknowledging the other person’s feelings and re-centering the discussion on the question. You might need to do this two or three times. Provided you’re giving off a vibe that you truly want to help, the other person will answer your question.

When they do, you’ve started to unlock their own motivation. That’s the key.

Step 2 is to ask "How ready are you to change on a scale of 1 to 10?"

Now we’re able to covertly amplify their desire to change with a really cool hypnotic process. As long as you got a real answer in step one, you’ve helped the other person identify a genuine reason to change.

In step 2 you’re simply asking for a number to quantify that readiness. You’re NOT asking how much they want to change, or how willing they are to change. You’re asking specifically how ready they are to make the change that they’ve already told you would help them.

Being ready to change is about being ready to take action. That’s a lot different than just being interested.

Practically everyone will tell you they want to make more money or lose weight. Not everyone will tell you they’re actually ready to DO those things.

See the difference?

So you’re only ready to move on from step 2 once the person gives you a number.

It doesn’t matter if the number is a 2, 5, 7 or 10. All that matters is they’ve given you a number representing their readiness to change.

Now comes Step 3.

Step 3 is to ask "Why didn't you pick a lower number?

This question is wonderfully hypnotic! Michael Pantalon may not be a hypnotist, but there is no doubt that this question causes a massive pattern interrupt.

Nobody is expecting this question. If anything, they’d be expecting you to ask the exact opposite question, “Why didn’t you pick a higher number?”

This question creates a state of surprise. Provided you’re congruent when you ask the question, you’ll get the other person to justify their own reasons for change.We know from Dr. Robert Cialdini’s work on influence and persuasion that if someone justifies their reasons for something, they are taking ownership of those reasons, and they are building commitment.

If you can get someone to be committed to something, they will act in a way that is consistent with achieving their stated goals.

Now it’s time to move to step 4.

Step 4 is to ask "Imagine you've changed. What would the positive outcomes be?"

This is another hypnotic question. Whenever you get someone to imagine themselves in a different situation they get to escape the limits imposed upon them by their current situation.

When you ask someone to imagine something, you’re not asking them to actually do anything. It’s just pretend. It’s safe. There is no way to fail. It’s harmless, so there is no resistance.

And it works.

It aligns the other person with the awesome feelings of having achieved something important. This amplifies desire, and builds momentum.

Now we move onto ...

Step 5 is to ask "Why are these outcomes important to you?"

Remember that in step 4 we found out what positive outcome the other person gets from making a certain change. Now we’re taking that positive outcome and hitching it to a big, important value to really crank up the desire and momentum.

Let’s use a quick example. Let’s pretend Chris wants to lose weight, and Mike is helping influence that change. Chris has said he wants to lose weight so he isn’t so tired whenever he tries to go do something physical.

Mike needs to figure out why this is so important, so he asks!

Mike: Why is it so important to you to be able to move around more without getting tired?

Chris: Because then I would probably go play outside with my kids more instead of telling them I’m too tired.

Mike: And why is it important to play outside with your kids more?

Chris: Well, when I was a kid, my dad played with me and I really feel good about my childhood because of that. I think my dad was awesome. I want that for my kids.

Mike: You had an awesome dad. And you want that for your kids. Why is that important?

Chris: Because a close family is super important to me. I want my kids grow up wanting to be around us as we get older.

Mike: And so if you lose weight so you won’t feel so tired when you move around, you’ll be able to play with your kids and foster that super close family experience. Is that right?

Chris: Yeah, I never really thought of it that way before. That’s weird.

That example shows how asking “why”, several times, can push the other person from the basic desire to the really deep desire.

That deep desire is like a diesel locomotive, and once you uncover it using “why” questions, you’ve hitched the outcome to that deep desire. This is another wonderful hypnotic amplifier of desire.

Now we’re ready for the final step in the Instant Influence process. 

Step 6 is to ask "What is the next step, if anything?"

There is a lot that’s clever about this question. 

Notice that it reinforces autonomy. You’re not telling the other person what they should do. And by adding “if anything” to the end of the question you’re not even implying that something needs to be done. You’re leaving that choice entirely in the hands of the person you're influencing.

But this question also does something else that is critically important. It puts the other person at cause rather than at effect.

If you’re at effect, it means the world is happening to you, and you’re not really in control. That’s not what we want. We want to be at cause … in charge of our own destiny.

So when you end an “Instant Influence” conversation by asking “What’s the next step”, you’re providing a clear hypnotic suggestion to the other person that they are fully responsible for any action taken.

About a year ago we wrote a blog post called “The Hypnotherapy Sandwich”, and it talked about two key questions we ask to all clients.  The first question is “what do you want”. Without that information you can’t really help anyone achieve their goals.But the final question is the same as Step 6 of Instant Influence .. “What’s next?” We love that Pantalon included this as the final step of his process.

Let's Recap The Process:

  1. Ask "Why Might You Change?"
  2. Ask "How ready are you to change on a scale of 1 to 10?"
  3. Ask "Why didn't you pick a lower number?"
  4. Ask "Imagine you've changed, What would the positive outcomes be?"
  5. Ask Why are these outcomes important to you?
  6. Ask "What is the next step, if anything?"

Remember that, before you start, it is critical to reinforce the other person's autonomy.

Before we close this out let's go over a few tips so you can put this into practice 

Tip #1: Ask permission to do this. 

You can do this as easily as saying, “Is it OK if I ask you a few questions about this? Of course we can stop anytime, and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”


Tip #2: Baby steps 

The person who wishes he could quit smoking may not think it’s possible to quit cold turkey, but could easily be persuaded to begin by smoking fewer cigarettes per day, or persuaded into researching a stop smoking seminar that’s coming up at the local community center. Once the freight train starts moving, the momentum builds. Start with baby steps.

Tip #3: It might take more than one conversation.

If you are respectful and reinforce the other person’s autonomy, you will most likely get through at least a few of the 6 steps. You might not finish the Instant Influence process in the first conversation. Let the first conversation be an opening wedge to future change in another conversation.

Tip #4: Remember that this only works when there is genuine benefit for the other person. 

In that sense, it’s just like hypnosis. It works when it’s aimed at something the other person really wants. 

So what's next, if anything? We've got a suggestion. Mike has another amazing tutorial called the "Agree and Repeat Strategy", and people have been raving about it for years. It's completely free and we hope you love it.  Check it out below.

FREE: The "Agree and Repeat" Tutorial

Mike's famous "Agree and repeat" video tutorial is an absolute MUST WATCH. It's fun, hilarious and it works to influence people in a way that can only be described as overwhelming, ethical and effective.

6 Responses to How to Develop Instant Influence

  1. Jim February 17, 2019 at 6:43 am #

    Nice summary Mike & Chris! After listening to your podcast I got the book on audible.com and have been listening to it. As you say, it is excellent. Even with your excellent summary I would recommend that others also get the book in some form. Lots of practicle examples in it, as well as things that might happen that could throw us off track, like when Mike P’s dad started verbally attacking him toward the end of the process. Knowing to expect that this type of reaction is a possibility can help allow us as influencers not to get hooked by it.

    • Chris Thompson March 3, 2019 at 12:42 pm #

      That is so awesome. And Jim, I just realized it was you who must have sent us those awesome “Bag of Pykthos” gifts a couple of years back. I don’t think we ever figured out who it was before! Thank you so much for those. Amazing. Hope to see you back in Toronto sometime soon. It’s not a far drive 🙂

  2. James Newitt February 17, 2019 at 2:24 pm #

    Mike & Chris,

    Love your stuff and buy most what you produce and endorse, I’m onboard with this but it needs to be in a audiobook please?

    I drive a lot and have very limited time to ready but audiobooks works.

    Thanks

    James

    • Chris Thompson March 3, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

      It’s on Audible and Audiobooks.com, James.

  3. Warren McKenna February 17, 2019 at 6:19 pm #

    One of the best posts ever!

    • Chris Thompson March 3, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

      Thank you so much, Warren! We are working hard to improve the regularity and quality of blog posts.