BY MARLA TABAKA
On a very basic level, influence is simply the ability to move a person (or persons) to a desired action, usually within the context of a certain goal. Burg describes it as having pull.
1. Control your own emotions.
You always have a choice when dealing with a potential adversary: to react emotionally or respond rationally. Don’t be controlled by outside circumstances. Responding calmly rather than allowing your emotions to get the better of you will ensure that you don’t put others on the defensive but rather help them remain open to your ideas.
2. Understand the clash of belief systems.
Every individual operates on the basis of an unconscious set of beliefs, experiences, and ideas, which are most likely very different from yours. Understand this and you can avoid confusion and numerous misunderstandings that stand in the way of most people’s ability to influence. As you become more and more aware of how these beliefs drive people’s actions and choices (yours included), your ability to relate positively to others, as well as persuade and influence them, will evolve and grow.
3. Acknowledge the person’s ego.
People want to feel good about themselves; if you make someone genuinely feel good, you’re one step closer to making an ally. Don’t shame, embarrass, or cajole others. And be cautious about that tongue-in-cheek humour. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you have to say, “just kidding,” it probably wasn’t funny.
4. Set the proper frame.
People react and respond to other people. Approach potential conflicts from a position of benevolence, resolution, and helpfulness, and the other party will follow suit. Reach out with a pleasant countenance, a genuine smile, and friendly hello. You can frame your influence in how you approach your first conversation as well. Invest the time to ask people questions about themselves, their business, family, and interests. When they feel good about themselves, they are more likely to want to get to know you; they will like you, and begin to trust you.
5. Communicate with tact and empathy.
Though the first four principles are vital, this is what brings it all home. Saying the right thing at the right time makes all the difference in terms of moving people to your side of the issue and taking the appropriate action that benefits all concerned. Edit your speech before you speak. Actually ask yourself this question: How will he or she feel regarding what I’m about to say and how I’m about to say it?