This article originally appeared in the November/December, 2017 issue of
Mailing Systems Technology.
Brendon Burchard is the highest paid motivation and marketing trainer in the world. He summarizes the key to success by stating, “What makes us successful over the long-term has a ton to do with our social interactions and the influence we do or don’t have with other people.” John Maxwell — the top selling leadership author — emphasizes that “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Our life experiences support the importance of influence to get the positive results we seek. Let’s explore important tips to help us develop greater influence with people in our lives.
Following are 15 ways to develop greater influence, derived from a range of experts:
1. Communicate an optimistic, empowered mindset. Positive psychology researchers Michelle Gielan and Shawn Achor recently wrote, “Our research shows that choosing to communicate an optimistic, empowered mindset to people around you — especially in the face of adversity — drives positive business outcomes.” One tip to having an optimistic mindset is to start your day with focusing on information that motivates and inspires you. One disheartening statistic: Just three minutes of negative news in the morning increases our chances of having a bad day by 27%!
Another tip is to carefully choose our closest friends — people that are positive, competent, and of good character. Jim Rohn advices, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” A final tip is to invest time reading from good books that will edify, grow, and develop you¬ — I start with the Bible and read many other books over the course of a year.
2. Smile, even if you are feeling down. You may have heard the expression “fake it until you make it.” The same principle applies when things go wrong or you are feeling down; smile and it will put you in a better mood. By smiling we release endorphins (happy hormones), ease bodily tension, and encourage people to smile in return.
3. Be grateful. Happiness is contagious. A great way to be happy is to be thankful for all the things (e.g. relationships, health, experiences, responsibilities, meaningful possessions, etc.) we have. We often focus on what we don’t have or on the things that are not going as planned, so we forget to be thankful. Making a daily habit of being grateful for everything we do have will give us a positive attitude that will rub off on other people.
4. Be honest. Honesty is truly the best policy. The truth seems to always come out eventually, so we might as well as be honest all the time. By being honest in tough situations, people will come to trust and respect us, and our influence will grow.
5. Always do your best. We gain respect from people when we do our jobs the best we can. People appreciate leaders and co-workers that are dedicated, dependable, and work hard. Doing our best gives us a positive sense of self and purpose and sets a good example for those on our teams.
6. Always say "please" and "thank you." Good manners are a passport to better relationships. People will go the extra mile when treated with courtesy and respect. Having good manners shows people we care about them and puts the Golden Rule of treating others like we like to be treated into action.
7. Avoid gossip. As you know, gossip is common in most workplaces, but it also can be the most demoralizing thing we can do while at work. Participating in gossip undermines our trust and respect with people, and can spread negativity throughout the team and organization. Instead, don’t get involved with gossip. Talking about others behind their backs is never a good idea and will diminish our influence with others.
8. Be diplomatic. People will say or do things that irate us, and the key is to stay calm and objective. Saint James encourages us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” When we remain calm, we stay in control of the situation and set a good example to others.
9. Become genuinely interested in other people. Dale Carnegie wisely observed, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.” The best way to make quality, lasting relationships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them and their interests.
10. Be a good listener; encourage others to talk about themselves. Want to become a better conversationalist? Become a good listener. To become a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say. One of the tenets of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Good listening includes eye contact and affirmative body language, asking clarifying questions, repeating back to ensure understanding, and avoiding distractions (e.g. phones, TV, computers, etc.)
11. Give credit to others when credit is due. People like to be appreciated. Sheri Dew advised, “Having influence is not about elevating self, but lifting others.” After years of study, esteemed psychologist William James concluded the number one need for most is the need to be appreciated. People like to know the work they are doing is being noticed and they are doing a good job — so tell them. When we express sincere appreciation, it makes them feel good, builds trust in our relationship with them, and improves morale.
12. Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely. We love to feel important and so does everyone else. Roy T. Bennett was right when he said, “One of the best ways to influence people is to make them feel important.” We have already mentioned a few ways to help people feel important. Another way to help people feel important is to provide recognition. Recognition can come in many forms: verbal, texts, e-mails, hand written notes/cards, certificates of appreciation, experiences (e.g. sports event, concert, movie), gift cards, money, promotions, special training or development opportunity, special assignments… the list goes on.
13. Show you are glad for others. It’s great to see people doing well, but often we get busy and don’t express our happiness for them. Showing you’re glad means actively helping them to celebrate their successes. Saint Paul encourages us to “rejoice with those that rejoice.” There are many ways to celebrate and rejoice with others, including sending flowers, verbally saying “well done!,” sending an e-mail/text, or giving a card or hand written note. When we make the effort to show we are glad for others, we build greater connections and relationships.
14. Stay neutral and objective when things go wrong. Life and work consists of both good times and bad times. We can lead with positive influence when we navigate through the peaks and valleys with hope and optimism. This includes remaining calm, neutral, and objective as opposed to blaming and being emotional and subjective. We earn the respect of others and have more influence when we model positive behaviors in the light of negative circumstances.
15. Be respectful of other cultures. We work in increasingly diverse workplaces. Part of that diversity includes working with many people of different cultures and ethnicities. By getting to know other people’s traditions, foods, and beliefs, we can develop a respect and appreciation for who they are. Every culture has something positive we can learn from.
Respected leadership expert Ken Blanchard wisely reflected, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” I wish you my best as you develop even greater influence with people and achieve even greater results!
Wes Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams. He is also an accomplished University Instructor and Speaker and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management, and team building training. His book, Your Team Can Soar! Powerful Lessons to Help You Lead and Develop High Performing Teams, has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you, and give you practical pointers to help you — and your team — soar to new heights of performance. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from Xulonpress.com/bookstore or wesfriesen.com (under Book) or an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Wes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 971.806.0812.