Why Authenticity Influences Best

“All choices are ultimately personal choices and … the most powerful form of influence is always personal … You don’t have to amputate part of your soul to be influential. In fact, your soul tells the most moving story of all. Go tell your story, the world needs it.”

Annette Simmons, The Story Factor

I don’t know about you, but I  feel slimy when I hear many popular influence and sales techniques pushed in seminars and trainings. I have often struggled to find advice about influence, persuasion, and sales that didn’t require you to sell your soul in the process.

But a few years ago I read a book about authentic influence through storytelling, and it was like a breath of fresh air.  The author was Annette Simmons and the book was called The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling

Telling personal stories is scary because it can make you feel vulnerable, but within this vulnerability lies our power to connect with others.

This powerful, human connection is not only influential, but it’s personally rewarding, authentic, and fun.

In this article I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes and big ideas from the book.

Influence vs. Manipulation

“When a manipulator isn’t present to maintain his web of influence, the web falls apart. Manipulation (getting people to believe a story that isn’t quite true) demands constant energy to maintain the desired outcome, and the ethics are bothersome. Frankly manipulation is an inferior method of influence.”

Annette Simmons, The Story Factor

We all learned as children not to tell a lie because pretty soon you forget what you told people. In other words, you get caught in your own web of lies and manipulation.

Powerful tools require increased responsibility. People won’t always know from the outset what the true story is. It’s possible they’ll never find out.

But if you manipulate the truth to gain a desired outcome from someone, you will get caught in your web, if not publicly, then in the private chambers of your own psyche and soul.

Even if it weren’t unethical and wrong to lie and manipulate, it’s not necessary. Influencing in a way that’s congruent with your core story and values is more effective in the long run. Even more, it helps everything else in your life work in harmony.

Less Info, More Faith

“People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith – faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell. It is faith that moves mountains, not facts. Facts do not give birth to faith. Faith needs a story to sustain it …”

Annette Simmons, The Story Factor

Many of us have a mistaken assumption that prevents us from truly connecting to the people we are trying to influence. We assume facts and logic are the most important ideas to discuss.

This misunderstanding is especially true for those in left brain dominated professions – like medicine, law, academics, and engineering.

As Annette says, people have plenty of information. Information is often free and plentiful in the age of the internet.

What we need FIRST from a service provider is trust. Stories, not facts, build trust and trust’s close relative, faith.

I see this mistake all the time as a coach when I listen to the first conversation investors have on the phone with a potential seller.

The seller asks, “So how does this work?”

Your left brain, fact-dominated, knee jerk response is to regurgitate every detailed step of the process, every nuance of lease options and seller financing, and every benefit to them.

What the seller was subconsciously saying was this: “Your ad sounded interesting, but I don’t trust you. What’s the catch? Prove to me that I can believe in you.”

This brings me to the next big idea:

Influence Isn’t a Set Formula (It’s About YOU)

“In order to learn about influence we must leave the comfort of models, linear sequences, and step-by-step recipes. The magic of influence is less in what we say and more in how we say it and who we are.”

Annette Simmons, The Story Factor

Back to our phone call with the seller.

Two different people could say the exact same words, yet the receiver of those words could feel completely different about the message being delivered.

How does that happen?

The critical paradigm shift is this:

The actual words we use are only 7% of the message we deliver!

This statistic was given to me by Dr. Michael Shadow, who is a foremost expert on negotiation and communication. Dr. Shadow taught a friend of mine and an excellent communicator himself, Greg Pinneo, and he has also advised several Popes, presidents, and business leaders such as Lee Iacocca.

Does that mean words aren’t important?

Absolutely not. But 93% of the communications others receive from us are in other forms, like voice volume, inflection, background noise, speed at which you talk, your accent, body posture, and eye contact (aka communication ques).

When we notice a conflict between someone’s nonverbal cues and their words, we believe the non-verbal communication every time.

Why? Because we know that words can be easily twisted, but nonverbal cues are harder to hide.

Being Yourself Is Most Influential

When you are authentic – i.e. you are being yourself – your communication cues will automatically be congruent.

When your cues are congruent, you will be more likely to gain people’s trust.

When you gain people’s trust, they’re more likely to open up and let you help them with whatever you do … buying a house, renting a house, or anything else.

So your first assignment in your new, authentic mode of influence:

Throw out the scripts, one-liners, and overused techniques and be yourself!!

Enthusiastically your coach,


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  1. Chad,

    Thank you for the information you share. I do some public speaking and this article about Authentic Stories has been very helpful to me. I’m planning to read “The Story Factor.” Thanks again Chad. I really enjoy your newsletters.

    Chip Cross
    Marion, NC

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