The Truth About The Power Of Influence

This article appear on: The Straits Time (Singapore) – 2 April 2015.

All of us understand the importance of having influence and being able to deploy this power positively in our personal and professional space.

We would have realized by now how useful it is to have influence – for yourself and he people around you as well. However it is possible you might have come across some myths about influence. Such myths can cause you to question the validity of influence principles and sidetrack you form making the most of them. Here are some myths debunked.

Myth 1: Experience Automatically Makes You Influential.

Perhaps the more common myths about influence is that being experiences at something gives you influence over others less experienced than you.

There is no doubt that experience plays a part in influence but not unless you can impart it to others. For example, if you have been working in the finance sector in a mid-level job for the past decade and do not help new recruits learn more about the job, you do not have any influence.

In short, if you do not share your experience and insight during meetings or conferences, you have no influence. If people do not take away lessons from your experiences and see you as the expert, you have no influence., Experience is important and influential only if you share it.

Myth 2: Influence Works One Way.

The age-old adage of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” does, indeed apply to influence. As described in the principle of reciprocation, a positive action has to be responded in kind. Being able to influence someone does not mean you do not have to reciprocate. You cannot expect someone to scratch your back without doing something for them in return.

In fact, research shows that if you a favor for someone, you would have created an immediate good impression on the other person. The influence from both sides increases if the person returns the favor to you. This increases the likeability of both parties both ways. So if you want to amplify your influence, favors must be exchanged both ways, because influence works more powerfully when it is a two-way street.

Myth 3: Being An Extrovert Is Important.

Extroverts can influence other people through their charm and showy communication skills. Yet some people feel overwhelmed when in the presence of someone outgoing. In fact, studies have shown that introverts could have more influence than extroverts.

The reason is simple because introverts tend to listen intently to conversations and be intuitive tin asking precise questions. If you are in sales, think thrice before concluding that introverts are not cut out for sales. Never assume such generalization to be true.

Myth 4: Pleasing Everyone Is A Must.

Contrary to popular beliefs, you do not have to be someone’s good side to influence them. If you play your cards right and apply the principles of influence positively, you can influence your superiors, subordinates and co-workers. You don’t have to please everyone to be influential. If you are willing to bend to suit popular opinion, you can never be a strong influence on anyone.

Myth 5: Great Communicators Are Charismatic.

This is yet another common myth. What is charisma anyway? No one in my training sessions ever had the right answer to this question. 

Science has a different, but tried-and-tested interpretation. It is not about having charisma, but the power of similarity between you and the other person – a similarity that boosts your likability factor with the person. Someone who depends solely on charisma will have influence that is short-lived. I am sure we have all encountered people who were very charismatic but had little depth at some point or other.

 Article by:

Joseph Wong, the founding director and behavioral transformation coach of TrainingGearAsia. He is an entrepreneur, author and thought-provoking speaker on topics of influence, leadership and human behavior at work. Email him at



  1. Joseph indeed it is almost an advantage if someone does NOT know they are more introverted. I did not and I ended up a number salesperson and a top sales manager. Had I known my personality preference, I likely would not have taken such a career path.

    In particular Myth 4 is interesting about the power of influence. Although I intuitively know this, your statement of it shows the power of it.

    Thanks for these myth busters!

    • Joseph Wong says:

      Hi Patricia,

      Thank you for your note. Greatly appreciated. And yes, we as introvert (me included) does do well in sales contrary to popular belief and perception.

      I call Myth 4 an “unconscious paradigm”. We have all experienced times when the world start shaking and leaning for support (i.e. bending to people’s view) might be the next natural survival instinct. However, there are these people who are able to hold their ground. End of the day, they proved themselves right. and what they get is respect and influence.

      I saw your website and GREAT WORK!
      Continue to Make A Difference in What You Do!

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