7 Scientifically Proven Ways To Increase Your Influence

7 Scientifically Proven Ways To Increase Your Influence

I got a chance to interview Instructor and Lead Human Behavioral Investigator Vanessa Van Edwards. Her mission in life is to help you become the most memorable person in the room. She refers to herself as a recovering boring person who was uninterestingly bland. So she turned to science to overcome her dilemma.By using current research out of academic institutions and research organizations around the world, she’s able to share the latest people science in an actionable, applicable and un-boring way.

1. Connect with people emotionally

According to Vanessa’s research, she’s discovered that if you want to intrigue and influence people you have to get their dopamine pumping. Dopamine is that pleasure/reward area in our brain that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. She says you need to be relentless about stimulating that part of the brain, if you want to influence someone. A great way to do that is by having excellent conversation starters handy. Two that she always uses is, “What was the best part of your day and what was the worst part of your day?” or “What personal passion project are you currently working on right now?”


2. Be emotionally curious

When you make others feel important, your influence goes a long way. All of us want to be liked, loved and accepted. When you fulfill that need for others, you are perceived by them as being influential. Dale Carnegie once said, “To be interesting, you have to be interested.” So be genuinely interested in other people. A great way to become interested in people is to ask them open-ended questions. Get them talking about themselves and that will help increase your rapport with them.

3. Use Confident Body Language


Researchers at Harvard Business School, according to Vanessa’s class conducted a study wanting to know if a person’s body language could affect other people’s opinions of them. It turns out that it can. Low power body language is normally contracted, with the shoulders rolled with one’s head down or bowed. High power or confident body language is expansive. The head is held high, the arms are loose, shoulders are back and the chest is out. When you manifest power body language you are seen as more influential. Confident body language not only affects the way others see you, but it also affects the way you see yourself.

4. Tell a Story

Our brains are hard-wired for stories. When we hear stories, our brains feel like we are right there with the other person. It’s like you are experiencing the story along with them. Do you see the potential of how influential this could make you? When you tell a story, the brain of the other person is in sync with you. If you can stimulate the other person’s brain with a story, you can in effect get them on your side. Vanessa suggests creating a story toolbox. This toolbox should consist of relevant and thought-provoking stories you can tell at any time when you’re with people. Then after you tell the story, follow it up with some interesting questions. She suggests, “What was your most challenging moment and how did you overcome it?” or “When did a person, situation or moment turn out differently than you expected?

5. Be Vulnerable


Being open about your emotions actually increases your likeability and influence. People perceive you as being real when you admit to weaknesses or flaws. They are better able to relate to you. Vanessa suggests sharing a vulnerable story from your story toolbox. By doing this you not only tell a great story but you are being vulnerable as well, so it doubly increases your influence.

6. May I ask a favor?

According to Vanessa’s class, whenever you ask someone for a favor, you are perceived more positively. It turns out that asking for help is one of the best things you can do to be seen as an influential person. It is known as the Franklin Effect. So freely ask for help in the form of advice, other people’s opinion and their guidance.

7. Become Charismatic


Who is the most charismatic person you know? Why did you pick that person? Most likely you chose that individual because of the way that person makes you feel. According to scientific research, most people don’t remember what a person looks like or what they may have said. They remember how the other person made them feel. Charismatic people make others feel good. Vanessa gives three non-verbal ways to up your charisma quotient. When talking to someone, she says you should tilt your head, your torso should be aligned with theirs and lastly, your toes should point toward them. As Dale Carnegie said, when you show you are interested in other people, you become more interesting.

Featured photo credit: Thomas8047 via

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Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.


     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.


    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence


      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.


      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]


      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.


        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.


          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]



          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via


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