Part 2. Blogs and Receptive Influence
In my post about using blogs to influence people, I promised I’d write again about Receptive Influence. Of course, it is essential to use both expressive and receptive influence one-on-one. In a blog format, it’s much trickier, but not impossible. The key is to use Receptive Influence in an expressive way.
First of all, if you’re going to use Receptive Influence, comments are your friends. Comments provide the opportunity to use many of the Receptive Influence behaviors when you respond to them, or even write additional posts based on them. You must remember that when you respond to a comment, you are speaking not to the commenter, but to the world. Think big picture; go back to your original influence goal, the one you set before writing the blog article.
Since we just had an election here in the states, let me use elections as an influence example. Your influence goal for your blog would be to get as many people as possible to vote the same way as you would on either a particular candidate or an issue. Your influence goal in responding to a comment should still be to influence people to vote; influencing the commenter would be a secondary goal.
Unless you delight in controversy, most of your comments will be friendly. Most of us blog for our friends and acquaintances. If your blog is one of the lucky ones that has outside readership, most of the outside comments will still be friendly; people like to read blogs with which they agree with the blogger! Friendly comments still may give you the chance to use receptive influence behaviors such as Clarify Issues.
Suppose the gist of one of your comments is “I like your candidate’s stand on the issues, but I don’t think this person has enough experience.” In your response you could begin by saying, “Is experience more important to you than the candidate’s position? Would you vote for the other candidate even though…” At this point, you could switch back to Expressive Influence and make a case for your candidate’s experience, or make an argument that the issues are vastly more important in this case.
Of course, if you blog on controversial subjects, you will inevitably get unfriendly comments. These come in three “flavors” so to speak: respectful, not so respectful, and troll. Let’s look at respectfully written comments; they disagree with you in a not-so-disagreeable manner. Most times, the people who write these comments have read—and understood—most of what you’ve written. Respectful but negative comments present an opportunity to use the Attune tactic by either Identifying with the Other or Disclosing.
Identify with Other is a good behavior to use if you can identify with even the tiniest point in the poster’s comment. For example, if your candidate is not considered “tough enough on crime” by the opposition, you could say something like “I felt the same way when there was a hold-up in my neighborhood.” Of course, at this point, you switch back to Expressive Influence.
In some cases, you might even want to use the Disclose behavior. For example, if you didn’t fact check—and you should always fact check!—don’t be afraid to admit it. You will only gain respect from your wider audience. Be careful not to embarrass yourself in disclosing; remember, you’re writing to the world.
For the disrespectful comments, you might want to use the opportunity to Pose Challenging Questions. The key to using this behavior in blog comments is to use it rhetorically. You want to influence people who may be entertaining the same thoughts, but are not quite as vehement. For example, “If you are concerned about… in my candidate’s past, have you considered your candidate’s voting record on…?” At that point you can switch again to Expressive Influence. By the way, it’s never a good idea to be disrespectful or hostile back to someone. I personally would never go further than gentle mockery. I won’t say anything about trolls except do not engage. Ever.
Most importantly, when using both Expressive and Receptive Influence, be creative, know your audience, keep that influence goal in mind, and do not feed the trolls!
The influence behaviors referenced above are taken from Exercising Influence, a copyrighted program of Barnes & Conti