Delegates on our workshops this year have provided us with some excellent feedback and observations on what we do and the way we go about delivering our services. All of which I soak up like a sponge as I’m always in the market for collecting praise. One of the elements that makes our methodology so successful is because it was learnt through practical application. We know that the skills and models we apply are effective because they have been stress tested in the most trying of environments against the most challenging individuals. When we returned from overseas operations we then turned to academic theory, case studies and psychology research to back up our findings, understand why certain tactics had varying levels of success to others and also to develop and sharpen our skill set for the next deployment.

One of the positive strokes given to the Applied Influence Group team piqued my interest as it was a term I had never heard before. It took the process we used to formulate our methodology into consideration and we were labelled as pracademics. A pracademic, so we were told, is someone that blends practical application with academic research and can bridge the gap between the two. This was a great compliment, not only because of who it came from, but as it perfectly summed up the identity of the team. Our methodology was born out of tens of thousands of hours of trying, failing and learning, then our subsequent successes were backed up and improved by research before being tried and tested once again against the toughest of challenges.

As it’s Christmas time I thought I’d give you an insight into a selection of the books that we found useful in understanding why what we were doing worked and helped us hone our methodology over the years. The books are a mix of old and new as we are still researching to test and back up our findings and find different ways to relate it to our clients. The links to buy the books are included so if you would like to add them to a stocking or are searching for an excellent gift for a loved one, then let us do the hard work for you and use our suggestions.

Robert Cialdini. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. This is the 'Granddaddy' of influence books and is as relevant now as it was back when it was originally released in the 80s. Any time you have been influenced you can root at least one of the factors back to Cialdini’s ‘weapons of Influence’ which are the main factors at play which lead to people being influenced into doing something that they previously might not have done.

Click here to see Influence on Amazon

Alastair Campbell. Winners: And How They Succeed. Campbell’s book was an extremely enjoyable read and certainly shed light on areas of leadership in politics, sport and business that I thought I knew about, but in reality was extremely naïve to. This book is not an academic text but rather one of countless anecdotes about how winners think and behave with their teams. This book was extremely useful in articulating relevance to our clients in those areas above, particularly when we were talking about influence in leadership.

Click here to see 'Winners: And How They Succeed on Amazon'

Robert de Board. Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure. Part of our methodology is being able to understand why certain types communication occurs with individuals and what to do when it breaks down or is blocked. In order to explain this, we lean on transactional analysis theory and de Board’s book is a great starting point to understand Eric Berne’s findings on ego states and communication theory.

Click here to see 'Counselling for Toads' on Amazon

Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. In order to effectively influence someone with long term mutually beneficial outcomes, we assert that you must understand them. Haidt’s book takes you on a journey through politics, morality and religion and will provide you with a brilliant insight into how perspectives and judgements are formed. If you understand why people think the way they do, then you can build your influence message with a lot more weight, precision and effect.

Click here to see The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion' on Amazon

Mathew Syed: Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance. It would not be right if I didn’t plug the book that I have already written a Passle post on as we as a team relate so much to it. Black box thinking chimes with the way in which we created our elite team and now build that capability into businesses. The main message we related to from Syed’s work is that high performing teams are created when reviews take an honest, ego free and critical look at their performance. For more of my thoughts on this book you can go to my previous Passle post titled ‘Changing Perceptions by Owning Failures’, feel free to like and share amongst your community as well.

Click here to see 'Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance' on Amazon

Hopefully those five recommendations have given you food for thought and will ease the burden of trying to find interesting, considerate and valuable gifts. All five books focus on different areas of what it means to be an elite influencer and all five have been used in different ways as aids to shape our methodology and service. Have a great Christmas and hopefully your gifts will bring many smiles come the 25th.