You are a born influencer

Can you image learning how to be an influencer in church?

Denis Linehan Sales Professional Influence

From my earliest childhood memories, I can recall that every Sunday morning without fail either my mother or grandparents would bring me to mass.

During a catholic mass, there is one ritual called the ‘Sign of Peace’ which happens right before the communion whereby the priest invites his parishioners to turn to the person next to them and shake their hand.

Denis Linehan Sales Professional Sign of Peave

As a child I remember absolutely hating this part of the mass and I would spend most of the earlier segments of the proceedings praying hard to God that the priest might skip over or forget this section altogether.

In conjunction with my prayers I would usually try and make some kind of a deal with the man upstairs by offering to go out of my way to do one good deed or another in exchange for favour.

Occasionally my prayers were indeed answered and I would have to begin remembering what it was exactly I said I would do. The one lesson I learned from these occasions is to never make deals with omnipotent powers in high pressure scenarios as I usually tended to overcommit.

You see it wasn’t that I was completely averse to shaking somebody’s hand. For instance, I was quite happy to shake the hand of my mother, my grandmother or my grandfather but when the grey haired, little old woman sitting in front of me who had been continually coughing, spluttering and sneezing into her hands for the entire duration turns and reaches out to me, I took serious exception to that priest compelling me to reach right back out there.

Social Conditioning

As a young boy standing in church amongst all these adults, who for me appeared to be giants at the time, some with better appearances of personal hygiene than others, I was being ‘socially conditioned’.

Remember this term as it will be extremely important moving forward.

What I was in fact learning was that there are times in life when somebody will gesture in a particular manner to you, and even though deep down you may not want to engage with that person in the manner requested, you do so anyway as you feel obliged. It is usually a learned value that has been ingrained into your subconscious mind during childhood.

Cultural Pattern

The next time you reach out to shake somebody’s hand remember that what you are actually doing is triggering a pattern that is deeply rooted in our culture.  It compels the other person to do the same.

This is the basis of the understanding of influence and this is certainly why when a new student approaches me for the first time, reaches out to shake my hand, introduces themselves and then during the conversation begins to tell me that one of their main problems is that they aren’t influential, I smile.

When a baby is hungry, they cry. When they feel sick, they cry. When an infant wants to be picked up and held in their mother’s arms simply for comfort, they cry.

In all of these scenarios what the baby is doing is evoking a natural response from the parent or guardian to go to the child and pick them up to give them attention. After a very short period of time the baby understands how to influence their parent’s behaviour. Crying equals attention.

You have been an influencer from the day you were born

Therefore, those of you in sales who feel you lack the ability to influence others need to understand that you have been influential from the day you were born.

You’ve just created an alternate narrative for yourself over the years to protect your ego.

Every time you ask a question, you are not compelling the recipient of that question to do anything, but you are evoking a social pattern which places a burgeoning pressure on them to respond.

Asking Questions

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my work during my time working as an undercover police officer in the drugs unit was talking to people in interview rooms. You can tell a lot about a person by observing their behaviour directly after you ask a question.

Denis Linehan Influencer Interrogation Room

Even if that question is something as simple as, “would you like a cup of tea?”. Because of the environment of the interview room and the obvious set of unique circumstances and pressures that it creates, the person will automatically look for the motive in your question, no matter how harmless.

A person may deliberate for several seconds before finally giving you an answer.

I found that as long as you stay silent and wait, a response will always come and it is never what the response actually is that matters, only that the person responds.

This is called influence.

The same logic is as applicable in a police interview room as it is in a sales office, as it is in a butcher’s shop when asking for a piece of meat or as it is when approaching a beautiful stranger in a crowded room.

It takes less than a second to influence or be influenced.

Have you ever woken up with a beastly hangover and realised that you’re running late for work, jumped out of bed and kicked your toe off the edge of the bed, in a manic hurry you jump under the shower and absolutely scald yourself forgetting you’ve just flushed the toilet, you skip breakfast and then eventually you barge through the doors of your office, tardy and looking like a fiery demon?

What way do you think your co-workers or clients would have reacted to you seeing you in that state?

How would they have interpreted your appearance, your posture, your mannerisms, your words and your tone of voice?

All of these things combined do of course automatically give away how you are feeling, your mood and your capacity to interact with those in your presence at that given time.

You may find that a lot of people will go out of their way to avoid you when you present like that even though you yourself won’t instinctively notice it at the time.

Influencer Instinct

Therefore, if you present in a negative state, a prospect or potential client may instinctively avoid, dismiss or show you little interest and the deal is gone. All because of how you come across in one brief momentary glance.

It doesn’t matter that you may be the greatest sales professional on the planet, a deal can be lost in less than a second. Your behaviour profoundly influenced them, albeit for the worse.

So we now know two very important things; all of us are natural influencers and being influential doesn’t always translate as being a positive attribute.

Of course, life is nothing if it’s not polar and we understand that there are always opposite ends of the scale so what works on one end works equally as well on the other.

Say for instance you find yourself riding the crest of a wave in life, you’re in a loving healthy relationship, you are enjoying a healthy fun filled lifestyle and your everyday existence is in tune with your prevailing thoughts and desires.

How do you appear, feel and act?

You wake up early in the morning and you just know the day is great. You look out the window and all you can see are vibrant colours and energy glistening from the saturated streets as sheets of continuous hail lash the pavement as you listen to the joyous sounds of nature as the wind howls angrily at you through the panes of your windows.

Denis Linehan Excited Influencer

Nothing can dissuade your positive feelings. In fact, you are almost teetering on the brink of the downright annoying but you’re so positive you can’t help but get away with it. In this state, you are bouncing into work with a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eyes.

Anybody who you meet sees your smile, feels your energy and not only do they smile back, they actively engage with your positive presence. In less than a second your state has positively influenced your fellow human being.

Of course, smiling, asking questions and understanding the power of simple gesturing such as an extended open palm is not what will transform you into a master influencer or sales superstar overnight, but if you can grasp and begin to truly know the importance of these fundamental concepts you will be well on your way to mastering the subtler techniques that are to follow.


Denis Linehan

Denis Linehan is a master sales professional and sales trainer who in his first 3 years of selling generated almost $100million in new home sales and is now teaching others to do the same.

Sales Professional | Sales Training | Sales Coaching |Sales Skills | Sales Seminars

3 replies
  1. hildahorgan
    hildahorgan says:

    Influence has the power to have an important effect on anyone. If someone influences someone else, they are changing a person in an indirect but important way.


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