Selling yourself

Public relations is the art and science of influencing behavior, and I learned it from the best. These days I've moved on from that profession but the skills continue to stay with me like a best friend.

We could all use some of the wisdom of how to do this well because we spend a lot of our time each day influencing someone to do something, even if it is to do nothing. Doing nothing, by the way, is always one of at least three choices in decision-making.

So what is this art of influence really about? It is about credibility. In the end, our credibility is the one thing we must build and protect, because it represents our perceived trustworthiness. As they say in PR: you spend years building credibility—your reputation, and you can lose it all in a day. Losing credibility means losing our ability to influence. It's all about truth. As a PR practitioner, for example, you could tell a publication editor some false stuff about your company, and they may even print it. But once they find out you were not truthful, your credibility is lost. Good luck the next time you call them with a story. You are now persona non grata. No one is interested.

The point here is that no matter what we're doing, being authentic and truthful is the key to building credibility. That's the art of being an authentic person and having character, good, consistent character. The art, though, is a little more than that. The art of influence is more than truthfulness. For example, being completely truthful, but also negative, is not a good approach. Negativity does't get you far. Complaining tends to not build a following. So your approach matters. I read this article from Fast Company talks about words and approaches that tend to not work, like using the word "great" too much in an interview. Or if you're selling an idea, try not to say "It's going to be "Huge", at least not every time! Another tip is don't over sell. It is hard to be viewed as credible when everything you profess to be doing is bigger and better than anything anyone has ever done before. So maybe, you know, mix in a little humility.

The science part of influencing is where psychology and social psychology come into play, the behavioral sciences. To be good at influencing people it helps to understand people, like what motivates someone, or what do they like to do, or, well, so many things. We all have some level of these skills, but to be really good at this influencing thing, you have to go deeper. For example, it is quite helpful to understand this social psychology theorm referred to as the Fundamental Attribution Error. This explains one reason people do what they do, and why they sometimes react the way they do, and more importantly, why we make terrible assumptions about why someone did something, over and over. I highly recommend you look this one up and study it until you get it. This is one of hundreds if not thousands of things you will learn in studying the behavioral sciences.

Finally, there is one more important skill when it comes to influencing people, and this is the skill of communication. Please click on my article called "The ultimate skill" for some info about that topic. I hope this helps in getting you started.

The End