influence tactics, persuasion

In 1965, an experiment was created where three children were put in front of a camera and asked who was the most patient. Two of the three kids raised their hand. The host gave the child who did not raise his hand an ice cream cone and told the two “patient” children they must wait until later. Then the host left the room and  hilarity ensued.

Today I want to illustrate and bring to life our most read article, Eleven Influence Tactics and How to Excel at Each.

Because these kids use the tactics so clearly and blatantly, it’s a fun way to review several of the tactics.

The two children attempting to influence the ice cream holder quickly flip back and fort between positive-based influence tactics and negative-based influence tactics.

  • I’ll be your friend.
  • I’m going to tell that you are not sharing.
  • I’ll be your best friend.
  • Your mouth is dirty.

When viewed through the lens of the Eleven Influence Tactics, we’ll see several tactics come into play.

Let’s Dissect the Video

The dominant influencer sits on the right of the boy. She starts with this tactic:


Seeks influence through the aid of others to persuade them to do something or uses the support of others as an argument for them to agree.

We hear her  adding a tone of scarcity. You should help me because there isn’t enough ice cream available is her real argument when she opens her salvo with “I won’t get any ice cream.”

When this doesn’t earn her a bite, she quickly shifts to:


Seeks influence through demands, threats or intimidation to convince others to comply with a request or to support a proposal.


Seeks influence through repeatedly making requests, setting timelines for project completion or expressing anger toward individuals who do not meet expectations.

She tells the young man she won’t be his friend if he doesn’t share. He capitulates to her influence. But then the young lady wants an additional bite. She quickly shifts to a combination of two positive influence tactics:

Personal Appeals            

Seeks influence through other’s compliance to their request by asking a “special favor for them,” or relying on interpersonal relationships to influence their behavior.  


Seeks influence through getting others in a good mood or to think favorably of them before asking them to do something.   

When this doesn’t work, she flips right back to pressure, stating, “I’ll never talk to you.”

The girl on the left sees an influence vacuum and says, “I’ll be your REAL friend,” implying that the girl on the right is using the subject only for her gain.  This is a subtle use of:


Seeks influence through making explicit or implicit a promise that others will receive rewards or tangible benefits if they comply with a request or reminds others of a favor that should be reciprocated. 

She is saying you will get REAL friendship in exchange for a lick of ice cream because you know that other girl is only trying to manipulate you for the ice cream.

The young lady on the right moves to:

Rational Persuasion      

Seeks influence through logical arguments and factual evidence to persuade others that a proposal or request is viable and likely to result in task objectives.  

She states you’ll probably get another ice cream, therefore, despite what I said only seconds ago, there will be plenty, not scarcity, so go ahead and share with me.

Seeing no influence, she moves back to pressure, threatening to report the ice cream holders lack of sharing to the adult perceived as the authority figure. With no pause, she slides right back into personal appeal.

After a bit more back and forth, the most dominant influencer threatens to tell on him upon the host’s return. This earns her another bite.

The less-influential girl finally gains a bit through using coalition. “You gave her a bite, why not me?” is her basic argument. “After all, we are all in this together.” Soon both girls are threatening him again. This ushers in one of the funniest moments of the video when the boy bangs his hand on the desk in frustration.

The hilarity ensues for a bit and finally the host comes in and gives the more influential girl her cone. She soon shares it with the other girl but not the boy because, after all, he’s already had his. HaHa!

How Could They Have Used the Other Influence Tactics?

Either of the young ladies could have spoken to the other girl in an attempt to form a coalition.


Seeks influence through the aid of others to persuade them to do something or uses the support of others as an argument for them to agree.            

“She wants you to share, and so I do. Don’t you want him to share?” “Yes, I would like it if he would share with us.” This would intensify the influence. Instead of dealing with two parties wanting his ice cream, the young man would now be dealing with a united front operating as a single entity with two voices.

Though some use of the exchange tactic was used, a more effective means might have been for one of the girls to say, “If you give me half of your ice cream now, I’ll give you half of mine when I get it.”

The girls use upward appeals as a threat but not in a positive sense.

Upward Appeals

Seeks influence through the approval/acceptance of those in higher positions within the organization prior to making a request of someone.   

If they would have asked the host before he left, “Do you believe sharing is a good thing?” and received an affirmative answer, it would have been even easier to convince the boy to share.  They could have also recognizedthe camera person as an adult with perceived authority.

In addition:

Inspirational Appeals  

Seeks influence through making an emotional request or proposal that arouses enthusiasm by appealing to other’s values and ideals, or by increasing their confidence that they can succeed.   

The girls never told the boy, “You are a kind person,” or any other positive reinforcement upon which they could then appeal that sharing would be in line with that positive trait they just agreed the boy possessed.



Seeks influence through involving other’s participation in making a decision or planning how to implement a proposed policy, strategy or change.        

At no point was there ever a discussion asking the boy, “What do you think would be fair?” or any other question allowing him input that wasn’t threatening.

This video, while funny, shows a very clear attempt to utilize influence to get something that the influencer desires. Obviously, as adults, we can more sophisticatedly use each of the tactics in proper context to persuade and influence others.


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From regional manager to international executive with quadruple the pay, Karen Keller’s unique blueprint carefully outlined the step-by-step process for creating high-impact influence and let me know when I was being influenced in a way that didn’t serve me.
Lloyd Moore
Global Director Supplier Quality & Development - Lear Corporation – South Carolina