07May2017

The Natural Law of Authority

The Natural Law of Authority states that we believe and act on the advice and direction give to us by those we perceive to be in authority.

A classic study at the University of Texas highlights the effect of authority perception. Students were given the assignment to persuade other students to jay walk or cross a busy intersection against the traffic signal. Some students were dressed in regular school day attire. Others were dressed in business attire while the final group was dressed in law enforcement uniforms. Not surprisingly, the group dressed in law enforcement attire was far more successful in getting pedestrians to cross against the traffic signal than their plain-clothed counterparts.

Perception of authority can come from many directions like dress, educational degrees and other credentials, positioning, testimonials or endorsements by others who people perceive to be in authority. Perceived authority is increased or decreased upon every interaction. A person either gains more perceived authority or credibility or less credibility every time he or she interacts with others.

We all believe and act on the direction and advice given to us by those we perceive to be in authority. What are you doing to build your legitimate and perceived authority in the eyes of your constituency?

Action items:
1. Display your credentials visibly and with class.
2. Look the part. Dress the way people expect an authority in your area of expertise to dress.
3. Get regular endorsements, testimonials, and on-line reviews.
4. Stay up to date on the latest information and trends in your area of expertise. Always be prepared to explain logically and clearly where you stand and why.
5. Learn to speak understandably and clearly. People believe those who they can understand.

Use these ways and more and you’ll have the Natural Law of Authority working in your favor.

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