(Opinion) The crucial role of nurturing trust in politics
Learning the art of influence can make strides for success
Snap! Flick! Click! The air is filled with the aroma of fried dough as crowds gather for a local tradition. Tom Sherman, a New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate, is captured on camera engaging with citizens at the UFO Festival in Exeter. The presence of professional photographers capturing Sherman’s interactions triggers the “celebrity effect,” where his image alone commands influence.
Trust, a crucial element in the process of influence, is not exclusive to elites and politicians, however anyone can earn trust and wield influence. But how does one attain trust and influence? The answer centers on having an entrepreneurial mindset characterized by confidence, drive, strategic thinking and control over one’s message and brand.
Influencing and persuading others is a challenging skill to master. It requires a strong mindset and confidence and plays out across domains.
Matt Greene, a paramedic and firefighter from Exeter, emphasizes the importance of staying calm and confident. “People can read your emotions, so projecting calmness is vital,” he says. This is especially critical for first responders who represent their profession. Confidence and the ability to offer value increase one’s ability to influence and persuade.
Trust plays a significant role; one wouldn’t bring a car to a mechanic they don’t trust.
Another factor lies in adopting a business mindset is crucial for success in influencing others. Understanding what you’re “selling” — yourself, and effectively marketing yourself with confidence and honesty — is key. Setting clear goals, being truthful, and mastering communication and networking are essential.
Yet the art of influencing is a “double-edged sword,” according to Manchester Sen. Lou D’Allesandro. Having a strong reputation and confidence increases the likelihood that others will listen and be influenced by your ideas. Executing your business plan with conviction is important.
Developing a brand and guarding it is crucial. A strong brand requires honesty, trustworthiness, understanding your message or product, and possessing charisma.
Trust is pivotal in influencing, as Timothy Foss, a successful car dealership owner in Exeter, explains.
The trust between a salesperson and a customer is essential for influence to occur. In the political arena, candidates and lawmakers must also understand their audience, explain their actions, and maintain a good brand and reputation, as Dante Scala, a political science professor at UNH, emphasizes.
Having a strategic mindset is essential for persuasion. Understanding the context and tailoring your approach to the person or group you’re trying to influence is crucial. For law enforcement, according to a counterintelligence agent based in the South who requested anonymity, understanding the context of the person they want to influence is crucial.
Similarly, Todd Kennedy, a top executive at Capital One, emphasizes understanding the audience’s context for effective persuasion.
Following the advice of Chris Agryis, an American business theorist, “ladders of inference” framework helps make fact-based decisions and gain insight into the thought process of the person you’re trying to influence.
Effective communication and building a network are additional key factors.
Networking provides valuable information and opportunities. Initially lacking connections, I built a network through research and personal experience, which allowed me to establish relationships with influential individuals.
Senator D’Allesandro believes that communication saves the nation, highlighting its significance in influencing. By building and maintaining your network, you increase your chances of success in influencing others.
Considering the research as a whole, the ability to influence and persuade others can be developed through an entrepreneurial mindset and a strong personal brand.
Confidence, strategic thinking and effective communication are key components of this mindset, while honesty, trustworthiness, and knowledge of your product or message are essential elements of a strong brand. By embodying these traits, individuals position themselves as experts, gaining trust and respect, thus increasing their ability to influence and persuade.
Sawyer Camlin is a student at Exeter High School who is engaged in political research, with a particular focus on influence and persuasion.