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The Spotlight is On More Than You Think

Be it stand up comedy, live music, or a presentation at work. Live performances are a dynamic affair featuring two parties, the performer and the audience. The spotlight is naturally on the performer with the audiences' role largely overlooked. 

It doesn't appear so at first, but the audience is a co-lead. Having given my fair share of presentations, I've felt the impact of a well-timed question or comment. Whether affirmative or challenging, audience participation can drastically shift the way I feel and how I'll proceed. 

Non-verbal actions are equally strong. Passive participation is anything but. A nod goes a long way in assuring me. A questioning look makes me pause. Checking your phone makes me second guess the interest. As audience members, we think we're invisible. We're not. We're in it together. 

So much in the study of influence is on achieving what we don't have but it's important to be mindful of the influence we already do have. If we're in the room, we're bringing something to the table. What we bring is up to us. 


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Step One is Knowing

In school, we listen to our teachers. At home, our parents. Throughout our childhood, following instructions is praised and rewarded. When we're young, there's value in this. We don't understand how the world works quite yet, so guidance can be lifesaving.  The bias to just accept obviously has drawbacks. Insert old jumping off a bridge adage .  This conditioning is especially strong for kids from lower income households. Their parents are more likely in working class jobs involving strict order-taking. Parents of middle-class households tend to be knowledge workers where influence is essential.  Studies have shown kids from middle-income households are more willing to negotiable with their teachers. They learn from their parents that things are not set in stone. This leads to better grades and learning outcomes when compared to their lower income counterparts who don't negotiable.  In business, if we simply accept things as they are, we would never innovate. In work, w