Over the last four years on this blog I have written a great deal about how to influence others, but I have never written about how to respond when other people try to influence you – apart from how to handle the negative politics. The point is that as you become more influential yourself – and more successful – more people will be beating down your door to influence you. How do you going to respond?
The simple and usually the most practical response is to get around to them in your own good time. As an influential person you are very busy, so leave them to work harder at it. This approach also helps to set the hurdle higher and force them to display tenacity – demonstrating that they think it is really important.
Tempting though this may be, it introduces risks. If their direct approach doesn’t seem to be working, they may …
Yesterday evening I enjoyed dinner with a very good friend of mine. Our conversations are usually lively and the topics ranged from the new addition to her family — Layla, the rather enthusiastic bearded collie — to exciting holiday destinations.
Our respective professional interests naturally intermingled within these topics and at one point I was explaining how elated I was feeling having finally finish the draft of my latest book — now I can pick up on all the other ideas I wanted to develop. One of these ideas is to develop a range of email subscriptions to make the articles in the influence blog more accessible. My plan is to organise these around themes such as Building Reputations in Tough Organisations, Women and Influence…
And that’s when she challenged me to do it now — today. She knows I like a challenge, and she also knows that my work is very useful to women. The idea quickly took shape …
To maximise your progress, recognise that your mind is likely to transform its beliefs about your goal as you continue to work towards it. Once you can see the path, you can take action to accelerate your progress along it.
Here’s the pathway…
- Want. The first inkling of an idea, the first rousing of desire that you want to change something. Many get stuck here, threshing around …
I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has told me that they are an expert. Expertise is an extremely potent source of power and influence, especially when it is in high demand and comes from a credible source. Little wonder that everyone wants to be an expert.
Credibility is an internal system of judgement we apply to a source of information which helps us to assess its quality and reliability. We will take more notice of a source which appears credible. The criteria for credibility will vary from person to person based on their experience of the subject matter and of life in general. So you need to think carefully about how you are establishing your credibility ― and this is as important to people working inside large organisations as it is to external consultants.
When I am coaching someone in this area, I like to stretch and challenge. If someone says they are an expert, I like to see how they answer questions …
Once you begin to clarify your influencing goal, your mind may start to play tricks on you.
One bright day you felt positive and inspired to reach for the stars. On these days, you feel totally empowered ― anything seems possible, nothing can get in your way, you are invincible. Feeling inspired, you lay down your goals with positive expectations.
Next day, things look a little darker. Doubts have started to creep in. The old well-worn dialogue gets to work inside your head. What on earth were you thinking? How can you possibly achieve the goal you laid out only yesterday? If you are not careful, these …
Rivalling gravitas, charm (or charisma) is the most cited personal characteristic which contributes to effective influence. As people describe what charm is, they often appear to swoon as they mentally step back into an experience of being charmed ― experiencing once again the almost magical effect it had on them.
Clearly, charm is a very potent capability to have within your skillset. Yes, it is a skill.
Most presume that charismatic people were born that way and that people are either charming or not. If you think that way, you will be missing a golden opportunity to become more influential.
Skills can be developed. Charm can be developed. You can become more charming ― if you really want to.
Here’s how to start…
- Recognise that …
Before publishing this article I sent it to a couple of friends. One reacted strongly, telling me I was wrong. I’m just pleased he proved my point entirely!
We all applaud people of integrity, don’t we? Those who have a well-developed sense of right and wrong: strong values which they apply consistently in their lives. These people become highly trustable because they are reliable.
My guess is that we are all still “work in progress” when it comes to integrity, mainly because we are all still learning. Each new experience contributes to our understanding of the world and how to live in it. Values nudge forward and are evolving within us all the time, even if we don’t realise it.
Yet every step …
Like me, I am sure you have been in a meeting presenting your ideas and seeking agreement to proceed. Gaining buy-in is a key job requirement of middle to senior-level people.
If people say no, I am sure you have plenty of ideas about what to do next ― especially if you have been reading my work for a while. But, what do you do if they say yes?
Most people will gratefully accept that little word and swing into implementation mode, or patiently wait for them to do what they have just agreed to do. Put another way, they will take a gamble that yes meant yes and not no or maybe. I know that you know yes often doesn’t mean yes.
Is that what you do? Initially, the relief of gaining agreement hides the gamble. Suspicions that they are not quite with you can be squashed out by the fear of losing agreement. Trying to check that they really mean yes is somehow seen as being foolhardy. Worry about …
People who have a positive attitude towards their work as an influencer benefit greatly and, to be honest, are much more likely to get what they want. This works for a number of reasons…
- People with a positive disposition are more readily listened to.
- Many enjoy engaging with positive people, so doors fly open.
- Among ambitious people, those who are negative stand out awkwardly.
- Optimists focus on what can happen at the expense of what cannot. Whereas, pessimists focus on what can’t be done at the expense of what can.
- Being positive about what you are seeking to achieve makes people sit up and listen.
Before I continue, please note that …
Why are you unable to get the influence you want? What is preventing you from reaching your influencing goal? Sometimes, events conspire to thwart your honest endeavour, and the reasons why it is not working become obscured.
If you’d like to find out what is wrong, what you are missing and, then, how you can begin to make progress, here is an exercise for you to try.
BUT, please do it one step at a time. Resist the temptation to read the full article before trying the exercise. Just decide you want to give it a go, find a ten-minute slot and go and have a coffee with your notebook.
When you are ready…
Step1: Write down an influencing …