How to Turn Adversaries into Allies without Manipulation or Coercion

Do you have “Ultimate Influence?”

Are you able to get other people excited about your ideas?  Can you convince your kids to do their chores without constant reminding?  Are you able to change your boss’s mind about something?

Bestselling author Bob Burg says, “Ultimate Influence is the ability to get the results you want from others, while making

 Bob Burg
Bob Burg

them feel genuinely good about themselves, about the situation, and about you.”

In my work as a consultant, I encounter many intelligent, well-intended, skilled people who consistently get only mediocre results because they don’t know how to influence others.

Burg, the author of Adversaries into Allies:  Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion says:

“You can have practically every positive trait working for you – you can be talented, or high character, ambitious, kind, charitable, hardworking, thrifty, and energetic.  You can have a knack for numbers and a head for business; you can be even-tempered, creative, et cetera.


Unless you are able to influence the way others think and act, your chances for success in any aspect of your life are limited. “


Whenever I bring up the subject of influence, one of the common pushbacks is, “I don’t want to be manipulative.”  People often perceive that trying to influence others is somehow deceitful.

Burg ( writes, “Faced with the task of persuading someone to do what we want, most of us expect, and often encounter, resistance.  We see the other person as an adversary and often resort to coercion or manipulation in order to get our way.  But while this approach might at times bring us short-term results, it leaves people with a bad feeling about themselves, and about us.  At that point our relationship with the person is weakened and our influence is dramatically decreased.”

Burg says there is a better way to win people to your side.  In Adversaries into Allies he puts forth five principles:

1.            Control your own emotions

We may think of ourselves as logical, but at our core, humans are emotional creatures.   Burg quotes The Sages, “Who is mighty? That person who can control their own emotions and make, of an enemy, a friend.”

2.            Understand the clash of belief systems

Every individual operates based on an unconscious set of beliefs, experiences and ideas that are different from your own.  Burg says, “Understand this and you can avoid confusion and numerous misunderstandings.”

3.            Acknowledge their ego

“The single greatest people skill is a highly developed and authentic interest in the other person,” says Burg.  “People want to feel good about themselves,” he says, “The essence of influence is pull. It’s an attraction. Great influencers attract people, to themselves, and to their ideas.

4.            Set the proper frame

Burg says, “People react and respond to other people. He recommends, “Approach potential conflicts from a position of benevolence, resolution and helpfulness.  The other person will likely follow suit.” A genuine smile, he says, is the ultimate positive “frame-setter.”

5.            Communicate with tact and empathy

Empathy is vitally important to any human interaction.  Burg quotes his dad who said, “Tact is the language of strength.”

Personally, and in business, mastering people skills is life’s big difference-maker.  It’s not easy, but important skills are rarely intuitive. Mastering the art of winning people over is the difference between being surrounded by support and enthusiasm versus having do everything on your own.

Do you have Ultimate Influence?  How might your life be different if you did?

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