How to Cyber-Influence – Even When You Disagree

Guest Post by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Social media allows us great opportunities to connect with others. It creates the context for democratizing influence, giving voice to individuals on a mass basis.

It’s exciting just to consider the good that can be accomplished as various (and yes, opposing) political and other viewpoints can be communicated intelligently, respectfully, and persuasively, and without the filter of the usual authority figures. Imagine the potential for mutual understanding!

Unfortunately cyberspace these days is filled with vitriolic, insulting “exchanges” between people who in person may be kind and thoughtful, yet who online express opinions and defend views in ways that do nothing but repel.

While viciously and brutally attacking others may elicit a shot of dopamine that provides an instantaneous high, it doesn’t lead to lasting rewards. Assuming one’s personal values include kindness and respect, you just can’t feel sustainably good when that short-term high comes about viciously through attacking others.

Have You Seen This Person Anywhere?

We’ve noticed an interesting correlation in many attack-style tweets and posts: those with the strongest opinions and most insulting comments often seem to be the least informed regarding the issue they are discussing.

In a way, this makes sense. The more people allow their emotions to control their actions, the less room there is to involve logic and thoughtfulness.

Our guess is that those who have the most emotionally charged opinions likely obtain their information only from sources they already agree with.

While this is natural, that doesn’t make it productive — not for the tweeting-posting person, for the one with whom they are exchanging hurled invectives, or for society as a whole.

The Path of Influence

We offer two suggestions:

  1. We can always speak tactfully and respectfully to others without compromising our own values. In other words, yes, you can disagree and even attack an issue without personally attacking the other person. 

  2. Actually make a study of the issue from the opposing side’s point of view. This was one of Abraham Lincoln’s persuasion secrets, and today it’s easier to do than ever. Watch, read, and listen to the media outlets that have the opposing views to yours, watching not to scowl and point out their flaws but to genuinely understand their point of view.

As the saying goes, “You don’t truly understand an issue until you can argue both sides.” Please don’t misinterpret this: we’re not suggesting you agree with them. We’re saying you’ll come away with a much better understanding—and communicate your own viewpoint much more effectively.

By all means, let’s continue to communicate, to have our opinions and express them. But let’s do it based on mutual respect. And that begins with us.

Bob Burg and John David Mann are coauthors of The Go-Giver Influencer.

Legendary business coach Marshall Goldsmith says,

—and in today’s polarized world, it could not be more timely.”

Download the first two chapters at The Go-Giver Influencer Ch 1 & 2.

I am excited about this next book in the Go-Giver series, The Go-Giver Influencer, and hope this small taste of what is to come has piqued your interest too. 

Until next time…

Different Atmosphere

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150I was able to attend the school board meeting last night. This is the first meeting I have attended in probably a couple of months. This was also the first meeting I have attended with new board member, Mr. Doerer.

The meeting went longer than what had become normal, without any guest presentations or speakers. The reason it went longer was due to the discussion that took place, Continue reading Different Atmosphere

Climate Change? Not so much

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150I was looking at some of my previous posts on the topic of Enterprise and the Trust and Assumptions post from last September, nine months ago, stood out to me and I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit and see if any progress has been made in the current political climate in The City of Progress.

A lot has happened since last September. We have a new Superintendent of Schools and President of the School Board just beginning a new term next month. We also have a new city council president. They all have an opportunity to act on many of the suggestions mentioned in Trust and Assumptions. I am not presumptuous enough to believe they have to get their ideas here. They are just common sense suggestions. Continue reading Climate Change? Not so much

To write or not to write…Is that even a question?

For me it is not. Writing is how I best express my thoughts. Writing gives me control over the final edit to, hopefully, make the finished product the best I can make it. Writing is the form of communication that works best for me.

That being said, writing is just one form of communication. Others include speaking, body language, listening and sign language. If I had to rank myself on the first four here is how they would rank for me from best to worst – writing, listening, speaking, body language. I know nothing about sign language at all.


Writing allows me, although I sometimes don’t take advantage, the option to edit, delete, rewrite and add to what I probably thought was pretty good to start with. It allows me to potentially stick my foot in my mouth (replace foot with pen or word processor) less often. I should be able to catch these errors in grammar, spelling and judgment and edit them to make them more palatable for the reader. Do I always do this? Of course not, but with writing I do have that option.


When speaking I cannot take back what I said (edit it) so the edit option is not really available. I do have a filter I can use but once words pass the filter and the lips they are out and cannot be un-said. I can try to explain what was said wrong or offensive with more talking but that normally just digs a bigger hole. That is why I will normally not be the most talkative person in any group setting.

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln says,

That is one of my favorite quotes.

Body Language

I have never been accused of wearing my emotions on my sleeve. I am often accused of not wearing them at all.

Emotions are part of body language but not all body language is expressed by emotions. I do try to pay attention and communicate that to the person speaking. Body language is expressed in many ways such as smiling, nodding, crossing your arms, leaning forward in your seat, or leaning back and reclining. I recognize body language is an important part of communication and it does communicate whether you want it to or not. I do try to make myself aware of this form of communication but I often fail.


Listening is the least used but most important part of communication from my perspective. If there is no one to listen, the speaker is just talking to themselves. Many speakers don’t really have a problem with this as they enjoy hearing themselves talk but there is really no communication taking place when that happens.

Listening is often thought of as being a passive activity. However, it really is an active activity that you have to consciously focus on and work at to be master it. When involved in a conversation most people are multi-tasking, listening with one ear and thinking of what they are going to say in response to words they haven’t even heard yet. Listening with one ear, trying to think ahead and predict what the speaker is going to say, and then formulating a response all at the same time does not work very well.

Listening also provides people like me topics to write about.

2 Ears 1 Mouth

I am sure you have all heard the saying, God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so that means He intended for you to listen twice as much as you talk. I think we would all be better off if we put this into practice and really listened to what is being said. If there is silence for a few seconds or even longer before you speak there is nothing wrong with that. It shows you were listening and now you are processing what you heard and formulating a response. This shows respect to the speaker and will have most believing you are the best conversationalist in the room.

Try it the next chance you get. You just might learn something.

Until next time…

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