Real influence rarely comes from title or position.
It comes from understanding people and their deepest, most fundamental wants and needs. Everyone at some level wants to be heard, understood, and appreciated. While it appears that some people have a natural ability or charm that allows them to have a great deal of influence, the art of influencing others can be developed.
All we need is a basic understanding of what other people want, and to be constantly aware of this in our dealings.
Here are seven ways we can increase our influence.
Whether or not you agree with someone, realize that they have a need to be heard. In order for them to feel like they have been heard, we need to really listen. Most people are busy thinking of a response, a rebuttal, or what they want to talk about to really pay attention to what the other person is saying.
One way of increasing listening skills is to repeat back to them in your own words what they just said. If not clear, ask questions. Good listening requires us to overcome the urge to think ahead to what we want to say and stay focused on the person speaking.
When two people are intensely connected in conversation, they tend to model each other’s nonverbal cues, such as smiling, moving toward the other, and making a great deal of eye contact. These actions make the person we are speaking with more open to our ideas and influence. The comfort level increases, and they feel that we get them.
Everyone appreciates being acknowledged for something that they did well and have pride in. Acknowledging those accomplishments will ensure that you will be remembered positively. It’s important to be sincere in the acknowledgement. If the recognition is seen to be superficial or phony, it will damage the relationship and result in distrust of the person giving it. Being seen as someone who truly appreciates them will elevate you in their eyes and put you in a category above all the people who haven’t noticed them.
Next time someone asks you for advice or assistance, notice what it feels like. Asking for advice or a favor from someone is an indication that you value their knowledge and hold them in high regard. Everyone has an area of knowledge or expertise that they are proud of, and asking them to share it gives their confidence a boost. It also raises our status level in their mind–we are someone who is able to recognize the value of what they have to offer.
The most beautiful-sounding work in our vocabulary is the sound of our own names. Remembering someone’s name and greeting them by using it is Influence 101. At a basic level, if someone remembers our name, it means that we have made enough of an impression that they took the time and effort to remember it. The more significant information we can remember about people, the stronger impression we will make and the more influential we become to them.
Virtually all people who have become successful have had to overcome adversity, and can name someone who challenged them to rise above their present circumstances and become the person they were capable of. These people never forget the person or persons who expected more of them and pushed them to go beyond their boundaries and comfort zone.
It naturally makes us feel good about ourselves when someone expects great things from us, and we will be inclined to strive to prove them right. We will see it as a challenge, and our self-worth and confidence will make us want to give our best.
Regardless of our differences, if we look long enough, we will find something that we share with virtually everyone. If we find out what that is, we can develop stronger connections with the people that we wish to have a greater influence with. In preparation for meeting with someone, we can learn the latest in the area of common interest so that we both have something to get the conversation off to a positive start and flowing in the right direction.