During my freshman year , I worked at a call center at the ASU Foundation, raising money for student scholarships. My job was to reach out to alumni and community members and build a connection with them in the hopes of facilitating a donation going back to the school. While the job was often difficult, there was no better feeling than persuading someone to give their hard earned money to the school in order to support academic initiatives. But after one day in this class, I realized I might not have been doing as much persuading as I thought I was.
According to KSM, there is no such thing as influence. This can be seen in two extreme outcomes of a phone call. The best-case scenario is that the person answers the phone, hears “ASU” and automatically wants to donate. The worst-case scenario is that the person answers, hears “ASU” and says they hate the school and never want anything to do with the educational institution again. While these outcomes are extremes and only a minute amount of conversations will end is such a fashion, it is easiest to analyze a concept using extremes. Examining the extreme outcomes, it can be observed that people have two possible reactions to getting a phone call from ASU: they are either excited to get involved, or never want to be connected with ASU again.
Now going back to those people that “persuaded” to donate. They must have had some intention of hearing from ASU; otherwise they would have hung up the phone. Now while they did not show their excitement quite as much as the extreme examples, they still had a positive association with ASU. The more I talked to them and explained all the great initiatives ASU was a part of, the more they began to show those positive feelings toward ASU. I did not change these people’s viewpoints on the school, nor did I force them to donate. Nor was it random, or chance that these people donated. All I did was call them in the right place at the right time and provided them with the opportunity to get involved.
This same idea can be applied on a bigger scale. People never influence you to do something, or not to do something. When the initial conditions of an event are set, one of the conditions will make you lean one way or another about something in life. All it takes is an opportunity at the right time and place that makes it clear what your position on something. This “something” can be a variety of things. It can be whether or not you donate back to your Alma matter; or it can be something bigger such as choosing what your true academic interest is in school. You are never influenced into a decision; your decision is always lurking underneath the surface.