Today I want to give you a high-level overview of Influence; whether you’re part way through my course, or have just been a silent supporter of the work we do here at The Influential Me. Below is the ‘greatest hits’ version of getting your way more often than not.  

I’d be delighted to know what you think. Let me know once you’ve read all ten 🙂  

1)   (…and the most important of all) Sharpen your listening skills. Listening is the most underrated but effective way to get people to know like and trust you. The human race has few things in common, but what most of us want is to be enough, to be heard and to matter. Listening allows you to be able to fulfil these needs for others and makes them want to reciprocate in some way and just like that you are able to put your agenda at the forefront of their minds.  

2)   Always think two steps ahead. Most of us are guilty of one-dimensional thinking – “I’m hungry so I’ll eat cake or whatever else is in front of me” never mind the countless hours of gym that I’ll need to put in, or the misery that’ll come from my clothes no longer fitting. Thinking two steps ahead may involve a packed lunch or a further 10 minutes of hunger whilst you prepare food but your future self will thank you for it. It’s the same with influence, don’t think about what you want the person to do, but rather how you’d like them to feel about you, so that they keep doing more and more for you, in the long term.  

3)   Not only should you think about the step after that one you want, you should also think about what the ‘powers that be’ (in chess terms this would be your opponent) are thinking. Practice empathy not only for the people around you, but for their priorities too. This saves you emotional turmoil and stress, as you’re able to understand the rationale of decisions and can communicate your agenda in a way that suits them and they feel like they’re doing what they want, but in effect are doing what you want.  

4)   Learn to find win-wins. This is the influence factory. Influence is a win-win mutual benefit; trying to find ways where only you can win all the time is the seedbed of manipulation, and though you may win once, it’s difficult to replicate that success. Win-win situations will make people want to do things because they can see a win for themselves and for you.   5)   Dan Sullivan talks about the best way to be referable; to show up on time, say please and thank you, do what you say and finish what you start. Integrity is the foundation of all good relationships. Hold yourself to a standard so others don’t have to. People will not only want to reciprocate in kind, but also will spread the word about you and as influence is given and not something one tkes from others. Your star begins to rise.  

6)   Kindness and gratitude. It’s impossible to overstate the power of kindness and gratitude. We all value it, but somehow in the hustle and bustle of life, we become impatient and forgetful about what those we interact with are experiencing. I have always been shocked by how bowled over people are by a word of thanks or an act of kindness. Do it for everyone and favours will come in from all directions when you least expect it  

7)   Learn how to speak several different (people) languages. Take time to understand your audience. People are often shocked when their very logical message is flatly rejected in a meeting only to be implemented two weeks later when somebody else suggests it. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it and to whom. Learning to tailor your message to different audiences is a skill and a major key to success  

8)   Be consistent, because even though most human beings, aren’t themselves consistent, we like to see it in others. Think about your brand and the three words that encapsulate it and make sure you’re consistently that.  

9)   Master the art of thoughtful challenge and people will love having conversations with you, because you make them think (about themselves in new ways) and this discovery within themselves makes you seem interesting.  

10)   Be courageous and confidence will come. No one is born confident, but you do have to get comfortable being uncomfortable because to influence often times means to think uniquely and to veer off the beaten track. Own your journey and take comfort that all things work together for your ultimate good and that of others also.

It seems like a lot, but all these can be conflated into a few mantras – Communicate, Collaborate,  be Curious and Challenge. It is true that the devil lies in the detail, but this is a solid foundation for you to start on.