Leadership is influence. Being able to influence people is indispensable if you hope to enlist people to pursue a vision with you. While influence could be dangerous in the hands of nefarious individuals, it could really do some good in hands of a genuine visionary. In fact, it could be helpful in convincing people to abandon dishonest practices. You may have an idea to solve a pertinent problem, but you must be able to persuade people to buy into that idea. To become a skilled persuader, you must immerse yourself in the perspective or experience of others. The following 5 strategies explain how you can win people over to run with your vision:
1. Confirm their Autonomy
No one wants to be manipulated. If people feel coerced, you’ve already failed at influencing them. Make them choose what you’ll like them to choose. We all want that autonomy and freedom of choice. While something maybe good for someone, just outright asking them to do it will often be met with resistance. Instead, you can gradually lead them to make that decision on their own. The question is: how can you get others to perceive your request as something they desire? By framing it as a unique opportunity, as something exciting and pleasurable.
A good example of this is in the novel “Tom Sawyer”… You’ve probably gotten a gist of the story by now.
Tom was once punished by his aunt to whitewash the walls of their fence for getting in a fight. He had to do it in the summer heat instead of going swimming with his friends. Needless to mention how undesirable it must have been. While doing his punishment, his friend Ben comes by eating an apple and makes fun of him. Tom however pretends to be really interested in what he’s doing. Ben now curious asks Tom if he’s really that interested in whitewashing rather than swimming. Tom still ignoring him continues working. Ben keeps insisting till Tom responds without even looking at him that his aunt won’t give such a job to just anyone. After all it’s the first thing people see when they pass by. It must be very important and such an opportunity won’t come again in years. He continued saying that he got into trouble in the past for painting graffiti on fences but now he can do it freely. It must be a test of skill which he really enjoys. He can swim on any other weekend but this is a once in a lifetime deal.
Ben then asks to try, but Tom refuses. He insists until Tom reluctantly accepts but only after he has offered him his apple. Soon other kids come by and Tom does the exact same thing with them thus acquiring more toys, and food. After an hour, Tom is now relaxing in a shade while his team of friends are whitewashing the fence for him. What Tom did was reframe the punishment as something unique and desirable, as a skill test. The more kids started doing it, the more other kids joined as no one wanted to be left out.
What do you think would have happened if Tom rather asked for help directly?
2. Become a Deep Listener
We all like to think of ourselves as listening when someone is talking. The truth is that our attention is often divided. We hear certain things while at the same time we’re either planning what to say next or even daydreaming. That’s because we’re more interested in our inner dialogue; our experiences, thoughts, feelings etc. However, the secret is to flip this behavior and try to get into the psyche or our interlocutor. Since you already know yourself to a huge extent, why not try to get into someone else’s mind. To listen more you need to talk less. However, don’t make it so obvious by asking so many questions that it now seems like a job interview. The best kind of questions are open ended questions that will get people to talk more. As they answer, pay attention to voice inflexions, gestures, or other non-verbal cues. If someone’s eyes light up when a topic is mentioned, it shows interest; dig deeper into that. As they talk, maintain eye contact, nod in acknowledgment and ask clarifying questions. The more you get better at this, the more comfortable people will be in opening up to you.
3. Infect people with the right mood
Moods are contagious. We tend to be influenced by the moods of others. This means that you can subtly inject the mood that is appropriate to persuade people in a specific way. For instance, you could get people excited about a new product or a new idea. You could stir up emotions in people such as joy, sadness, peace, anger, happiness, just to name a few. Adopting an attitude of complete indulgence is one of the best moods to mirror in others. That means you accept people as they are without being judgmental. You can do this by listening deeply to people, showing that you understand them with your empathy. Don’t always jump to problem solving. Sometimes people just desire to be heard. Another trick is to gently touch people’s hands or arms during interactions. Research shows that merely touching people will make them feel positively about you. In doing so avoid too much eye contact, else it will have a sexual connotation.
4. Don’t Impose Your Opinion
The more you try to assert your opinion to others, the more they will resist you. Doing so implies that you are smarter than them. We all desire to feel intelligent. If you challenge people’s opinions, they will cling to them even more just to assert their intelligence. Instead of presenting an opposing view, be more neutral and entertain their views. You may very well know that someone is wrong but saying it outright will only expand the gap. In addition to being neutral, you can go as far as “seeing” their point of view and “agreeing” with it. It’s not about winning an argument. You may win an argument but lose the relationship; it’s really not worth it. Now that you’ve understood their opinion, it’ll be easier to reason with them and even ask for help if need be.
5. Avoid Triggering their Insecurities
We all feel insecure about at least one thing; it could be our looks, hair, voice, masculinity, femininity, status etc. You need to identify such insecurities in others to avoid triggering them. Rather try to encourage them in those areas and praise any efforts they make. We all desire to be praised. Living in such a world where we are constantly under scrutiny and criticism, we could certainly use some praise. You should be careful with praise though as it could very well be seen as fake. If someone is clearly an awful soccer player, there’s no way that praising them for their soccer skills will be seen as genuine. Focus on those fuzzy areas where people doubt their skill levels. Reassuring them about a skill they’re uncertain about will work wonders. It’s better to praise someone’s effort rather than their talent as talent often means that they were lucky to be born with it.
The above strategies may seem manipulative but that’s really not the point. The idea is to find efficient ways using human nature to get people to do something that’s actually beneficial for them. It’s all about sincerity. This list isn’t exhaustive as there are other little tricks you could use. Feel free to share some of yours in the comments. Hope you were enriched by this. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our channel for more enriching content. Thank you for reading and until next time, BESTech remains your BEST bet.