Power of Power vs. The Power of Influence

Why do geeks lack influence? Why is something that is so difficult for them to obtain? The main reason I personally believe geeks lack influence is because they don’t really understand it. I believe that geeks often confuse influence for power. A good way to differentiate the two is by breaking it down. Power is the ability to affect another person’s observable behavior. With power, you can make someone do what you want, even if they don’t want to. This is because you wield the power to do so, and you are exerting it. They will do it but inside they may not want to do it, and may not do it willingly. Power can be viewed as authority as well. Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to change one’s inner state. This is affecting how they think, feel, and believe. With influence, you are simply changing someone’s outlook or feelings towards something. This may inspire them to do something, but they did not do it because you told them to. Also, their actions are 100 percent voluntary. These two can be easy for geeks to confuse because some believe power and influence come hand in hand. I disagree with this, you do not need the power to have influence and vice versa, and I will use an example to prove my point.

common mistake among geeks is to believe that influence and power are the same

I grew in a Congolese household, as the youngest of 3 children. In Congolese culture, elders have the power. This power must be respected and acknowledged by the younger people. Even if they are just several months older or even days older, elders get the power. This is apparent in how Congolese children are raised. The kids, of course, must respect their parents and the power they hold. The kids must also do so for their siblings and cousins. The eldest child has power over the younger ones. In my case, my sister, who is the firstborn, has power over my brother and I. My brother, who is the second born, has power over me. Myself, being the youngest, has power over no one. This resulted in many arguments, and resistance from me towards my older siblings, which all resulted in my parents telling me to respect my older siblings, even if they were in the wrong. I learned from a young age that I had no real power in my household, and if I wanted to get what I wanted or wanted to get my way I had to find another method. This led me to learn about the effects of influence. I knew that I could get what I wanted if I was able to influence those around me to see things a different way, that would lead them to align with my views. A prime example of my use of influence was when my brother and sister would get into arguments. I would never pick a side, but instead be a middle man for them. I would look at both sides and let them hear what they wanted to hear, as well as tell them things to sway their views. If I wanted to do something or wanted something, that my brother was stopping me from doing or getting, I knew this was a perfect time to influence my sister to help me get or do it. I knew that my sister held power over my brother, and I also knew that my sister was at the time mad at him. So I would work my magic, and my sister would see me as an ally. Since she was mad at my brother, and I was her current ally, her inner state changed to wanting to help me. I would talk to her about how my brother wouldn’t let me play Xbox or something, and then she would yell at my brother and demand him to let me play. My brother would have to submit and let me play, and I was able to play without even telling anyone to let me. This, of course, angered my brother but I was not the source of this anger, my sister was. I used my influence to sway my sister’s inner state, without having no real power at all.

Now if I had the power I wouldn’t have to go through all of this. I would just tell my brother to let me play Xbox, and I wouldn’t have to wait until my siblings were fighting to exert my influence on them. I would rather have influence than power though. I have found that exertion of power tends to leave people with a bad taste in their mouth. While influence doesn’t leave a bad one because it leaves someone with a choice to make. Geeks do not value influence enough, and therefore lack it a lot. If geeks want to obtain influence they have to able to reduce resistance, and then use influence techniques to change other’s inner states. Just as I did with my sister in the example earlier. I reduced resistance by convincing her that I was on her side, and then I used influence techniques in order to change her inner state. If geeks follow this two-stage process for meeting the preconditions for influence soon they shall witness their influence grow. At the end of the day, they will realize that the power of influence is greater than the power of power itself.


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