Influence isn’t a dirty word
Influence is something that develops whenever two or more people have rapport and trust. It’s through influence that we grow and develop. After all, others have influenced us our entire lives; parents, caregivers, teachers, social networks, work, media, etc. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave influence to chance.
Influence isn’t a one-way street
If your aim is to influence someone to your way of thinking, without also being prepared to be influenced by their perspective — that’s not influence.
That’s called manipulation!
So, given that influence works both ways in any relationship, here are some counterintuitive approaches you can use to influence with integrity and leverage those important contacts with your colleagues, boss, children, partner, friends, or anyone else.
1. Stop talking
It’s a great start if you can keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Give the person your total attention. Imagine stepping into their shoes to experience the message they’re conveying. You’ll show respect and understanding and stop yourself drifting off trying to find counterexamples, or prove why they’re incorrect. You’ll gain more Brownie points for learning and using reflective listening skills. The person you’re paying attention to is much more likely to listen to what you have to say once they know they’ve been understood.
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
2. Be aware of your non-verbal language.
You can tell when someone isn’t paying attention to you, can’t you? You’ll have noticed physiological changes that show someone has switched off or tuned out. These include eyes glazing over, folded arms and crossed legs, turning away, butting in, leaning back.
Well, guess what?
Others have the same sensory apparatus as you do, and they can also tell when someone has ‘switched off.’ If you want people to be alert and engaged when they listen to you, make sure you afford them the same courtesy. Listen with your eyes and body, as well as your ears.
3. Give them the big picture first
About 60% of the population prefers to gain an overview of any information and doesn’t need or want lots of detail. Giving too much detail upfront will send most listeners into overwhelm and cause them to tune out or become irritated.
4. Ask how much detail they want
After you’ve given an overview, ask what further — or more detailed — information the person requires. Or listen to see if they ask you questions. Then provide that information. If you enjoy digging into the details, then ask questions to ensure you have as much detail as you need.
5. Observe behaviour to define their values
People generally behave in ways that fit with their values. If a person is always on time and comments whenever someone is late, there’s a good chance that they value their own and others’ time and see it as a way of showing respect. If you want to be influential with this person, you’d better be punctual!
6. Use their values to motivate them
You’ll be more influential if you can show how doing what you suggest fits with someone’s values. For instance, if you discover a member of your team values fun, teamwork, and helping people, give him a task that encompasses those values to keep him motivated.
7. Be congruent.
Being congruent means that what you say matches your behaviour, the language you use, and your tone of voice. Everything you say and do carries a message.
Verbal and non-verbal messages can differ
if you tell your team (or your children) that you trust them, but always check up on them, the verbal message will get lost because the non-verbal message will overpower it.
8. Set an example.
Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, or let people know well ahead of time if circumstances change? Simple. Trust is the basis of influence. If you do what you say you’re going to do, you lay a bedrock of trust that you can build upon to be more influential.
A reminder of the 8 approaches
- Stop talking.
- Be aware of your non-verbal language.
- Give them the big picture first.
- See how much detail they want.
- Observe their behaviour to determine their values.
- Use their values to motivate them.
- Be congruent.
- Set an example.
If you can use even a few of these influencing methods, you’ll be well on the way to becoming more influential. In the process, you’re guaranteed to learn heaps about other people and become more compassionate and understanding,
Want to know more?
If you found this post helpful, you’ll find more practical tips and techniques in my eBook, REAL People Skills: How to Be Influential Without Fighting, Bulldozing or Banging Your Head!
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