As I write this, I am sitting on my couch watching the heavy rain fall down on the window, listening to the pitter-patter. It seems to add to the atmosphere of the movie I’m watching: “The Godfather”. It is dark and it is gloomy, reflecting the conversation Michael Corleone is having with Tom Hagen that hits me between the eyes. There are many ways to learn and gain insights into human behaviour and this movie has it in spades. The comment Michael said cleared up two areas people struggle with throughout their lives, in relationships, at work as a boss, a sales person, a person that needs to influence people to understand their way of thinking. Let me ask you some questions:

  • How many times have you had to ask your kids to clean up their rooms?

  • How many times have you spoken to your sales people to do their paperwork correctly?

  • How many times have you sold to people who were (simply) a pain to deal with?

I’m relaying here the sequence where Michael Corleone is talking to Tom Hagen about a situation where the other families are plotting to assassinate him.


Michael gives a lesson in understanding human behaviour to Hagen and tells him, that his father taught one valuable lesson: that the people working for him, even though they were killers, were business men, who made business decisions on what was best for them. So don’t expect loyalty.

The great line from the movie was “always think like the people you are around… Once you do that, the possibilities are endless.”

How many times, when you are in a selling situation, do you lose your perspective and it costs you money? The key to influence is to think like the person you are planning to influence, what are their drivers, their wishes and desires, the things they keep secret from you, maybe from their partners because… you really haven’t understood that persuasion and influence only happens when you understand the person and start to read the sub text behind what they are saying. What are they not saying? What people say and mean are often totally different things. I am sure you have experienced this at some stage at home, at work and definitely from people you sell to.

The author is a specialist in studying human behaviour and training sales people.