To influence people, focus on giving connection, instead of taking it

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In a mutually interdependent world, none of us has absolute control over everything we choose to do. You are either being influenced by others or exerting influence simply by being who you are.

Nobody is 100% original. Beethoven was influenced by Mozart. Picasso depended on a Cezanne. Einstein had Michelson. Almost all of our decisions and ideas have been influenced by people we admire, peers, teachers, religion, parents, bosses, etc.

“Everything we say or don’t say, do or don’t do, are or are not, that modifies, affects, or changes someone else’s behavior, thoughts, or actions, consciously or unconsciously, for good or for ill” can be described as Influenceaccording to Roffey Park Institute.

Influence is key to solving everyday problems and making an impact. In fact, influence is happening all the time at home and at work. “Every single day, we are faced with the task of persuading others. And every single day, we face resistance,” says Bob Burg, author of Adversaries Into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion.

There are two fundamental paths to influence, according to research — dominance, and prestige. “When we establish dominance, we gain influence because others see us as strong, powerful, and authoritative. When we earn prestige, we become influential because others respect and admire us,” writes Adam M. Grant in Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.

Direct influence functions linearly — the closer you are personally and physically to others, the greater your influence over them, and vice versa. Influence begins with you. You can’t get good connections if you are not ready to give it.

Influencing others is how we get what we want in life and career. It’s how we make and improve relationships. It’s how we win negotiations, sell ideas, and services to others.

With or without your permission, you are being influenced by the closest people around you. The more good influences you surround yourself with, the happier you’ll be.

Influence others by modeling positive behaviors

Do you relate well to others? Do people want to support you because they like what you stand for, what you do or who you are as a person?

To win influence others and persuade people, appreciate the good in them. Charles Schwab once argued, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people. The greatest asset I possess and t way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”

People like to be appreciated. You don’t have to overdo it. But the more you genuinely appreciate the good in others, the more they are likely to draw closer to you. Never forget to appreciate the people close to you.

Positive objective feedback is important for our growth, but criticism wounds a people’s pride hurts their sense of importance and arouses resentment. You will not win people over if you are a nagging constant in their lives.

“There is a natural human tendency to dislike a person who brings us unpleasant information, even when that person did not cause the bad news. The simple association with it is enough to stimulate our dislike,” explains
Robert B. Cialdini, in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Criticism usually makes us strive to justify ourselves. If you must criticize, call attention to others’ mistakes indirectly, especially if you are having a conversation with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.

Many people fail to notice even the smallest good things in others. Make others feel respected and valued despite their shortfalls.

Empower the people close to you and make them feel confident. When you think of empowering others, think of the good old saying ‘’People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel’’.

Do you deeply care about others? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Most people are more interested in taking than giving. But you can’t take influence. It’s earned. Winning and keeping relationships is about being there for other people. People are attracted to those who care about them. Take time to really get to know the people around you.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you, ” says Dale Carnegie. People will immediately start liking you if you show interest in them first.

To persuade others, boost your confidence. Confident people tend to rise to the top quickly than those who lack a sense of confidence and are insecure. Work on your social skills and become comfortable in your own skin.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had great influence during WWII by confidently stating “we will win through absolute victory” in his 1941 speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor: “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.”

He sounded more confident and people trusted and believed him.

There is no single right way to influence or persuade others. But in the end, our actions matter more than we think.

Connection with other people is fundamental to our survival. Human connection is better given than taken. Every single one of us can be influenced — but we are also all capable of influencing others. To make real progress in life and at work, you have to improve your persuasion skills.

Influencing people is about understanding yourself and the effect or impact you have on others. Whatever you do, your job will require you to influence people. It pays to adapt and modify your personal style if you want to make a positive influence on others and win their trust.

This article first appeared on Medium.