Charismatic individuals who have mastered the art of influencing others not only find the road smoother for their daily conquests, but they can easily convince others to collaborate and communicate more openly. Without influence, you cannot be a good leader, yet few people pay much attention to this valuable skill.
If you want to grease the wheels for your next business venture, now is the time to start cultivating a wider influence with others around you, whether they’re your colleagues, business associates, employees, or customers.
Here are five simple steps to help you start gaining traction with them:
1. Project confidence
Self-assurance and confidence put other people at ease. There is nothing worse than hearing someone stumble over his or her words or try to shake your hand with a weak, sweaty, palm. To project confidence, practice assertive body language and posture, either alone or with someone.
In the book Silent Messages, the studies conducted showed that 55% of all communication is nonverbal. Only 7% of messages were relayed through the actual spoken words. When you’re engaged in a conversation, make sure to convey confidence by speaking clearly, smiling when appropriate, and keeping eye contact. Another technique that will add to your boost of confidence is keeping a positive mental attitude.
It will charge you with positive energy others will respond to. If you have a hard time practicing these tactics, try imagining a successful, confident persona and play that part. It takes a lot of practice and devotion, but as you persist, it becomes second nature.
“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” – Robert Kiyosaki
2. Really listen
It’s always pleasant to be the center of someone else’s attention. So the next time you speak to someone, really pay attention to what they’re saying and stay present as they’re engaged in their story. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak or drift off trying to come up with an appropriate remark. Ask questions if you need clarification on the message.
You can even rephrase their message and repeat it to them to show that you have indeed listened and are interested in what they have to say and to make sure you understand correctly. Besides paying attention to the verbal message, follow the nonverbal cues as well. If you mirror the stance of someone talking to you, it will convey rapport. This increases the perception that the speaker is being heard.
3. Show respect
Respect tends to be a mutual exercise. If you disrespect someone, they are likely to scorn you. However, if you show respect, they will feel safe and trust you more. To show respect, it’s important to understand the social customs of the group or an individual.
For instance, if you go to Japan on business, you must learn intricate social cues and perform them well, like bowing to gain respect. However, for business done in America, you can simply show respect by remembering the names and details of the people around you. If they’ve achieved something, make note of it and congratulate them sincerely.
Ask them for advice when appropriate and this will ingratiate you to them as someone who values their opinion. They may also take your opinions more seriously since you had the good taste to acknowledge their value.
4. Take the initiative
It’s easy to sit back and blend in with the crowd, safely getting by in your comfort zone. However, successful leaders blaze their own path, they are proactive and aren’t afraid to take the initiative. You may need to work on developing self-confidence if you find it hard to take the initiative. In that case, follow some of the hints elucidated in the first step.
Once you get the hang of this, you will be able to express opinions, ask questions, and make decisions even when they may not seem likely to be accepted readily. If you learn the art of influencing others, those ideas will still be considered seriously. Nothing will be thought of as trivial.
5. Stay informed
Nothing degrades influence more than being seen as ill-informed. It pays to read the news and stay on top of current events, in particular if you want to be considered an expert or an authority figure. By being informed, you’ll not only be able to conduct an intelligent and meaningful conversation with your peers, but you’ll be able to form your opinion on matters and stand your ground, even if others don’t agree with you.
Make it a daily habit to catch up on the news and current events. If you don’t know the answer to something, you can always say you will give an answer once you’ve thoroughly researched the matter.
“I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” – Ruben Blades
Practicing these five steps will help you establish credibility, which in turn leads to a myriad of opportunities to influence people around you. You gain their respect, as well as their willingness to collaborate with you, regardless of the circumstances. Work on your skills until they become second nature and watch your influence grow naturally. It will do wonders for both your personal and professional life.