The July-August 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review has several useful articles on influence, including an interview with influence guru Robert Cialdini. The interview is full of gems. Here are two:
I like to call the first: "A favor is a terrible thing to waste." Cialdini says that when a colleague thanks you for a favor, do not say "Oh, no big deal." Instead think strategically about the answer. If the giver of the favor wants to build a bond for a return favor say: "Of course; it's what partners do for each other." By labeling the favor as an act of partnership, a mindset is created for a return favor in the future.
Here is the second. Cialdini and his colleagues created an experiment where some members of a project team were led to believe that their fellow team members had conspired to cheat. The result? Those being "cheated" on became stressed and performed very badly on a problem they were given to solve (as compared to those who were not seeded with the "cheater" narrative). Why? Cialdini says because they were preoccupied with the cheaters among them. But here is what really struck me: In a related experiment, Cialdini says that subjects who, when given a choice, were comfortable working with a dishonest team cheated 50% more often than anyone else did. The Big Idea: If an organization allows or cultivates a culture of dishonesty, those employees uncomfortable leave, those comfortable stay, and in the end the cheaters turn on the organization and cheat it. (Speaking of cheating, I am reminded of the wisdom of W.C. Fields: "You can't cheat an honest man." )
The issue has lots of other good stuff. Take a read.