Most of us have a somewhat distorted view of what influence is all about. We erroneously associate influence with the position that people occupy. We stay on the sideline, refusing to add our thoughts and opinions, and input to help shape the world and make it a better place. We cede those tasks to people in positions of authority.
We believe that we do not influence at all because we are not President, Governor, Senator, CEO, or manager in an organization. This is not true.
Influence starts from, and it radiates inside out. You can start from where you are today and influence those that are around you. As a father, you can influence your son for good and set them up to become a positive role model in the future. Every mother has the chance and opportunity to help raise the future generation of women leaders. Every young adult and teenager can influence their friends through their conduct, characters, and behavior in society. We can influence our colleagues by promoting great work ethics, creating an operative work environment, and mutual respect for our fellow workers. We can all be a force for good in our community by the choices we make.
So don’t wait for someday again; go ahead and start exerting your influence right from where you are using what you have. Be an influence on your child, your colleagues at work, your neighbor, and your community. Let your voices be heard, share what you know and believe, and seek ways to make the world a better place.
I recently read about three tactics for influencing people and impacting their lives, and you do that by appealing to them.
- Logical Appeals: You do this by presenting the best choice of argument that will appeal to their mind. You show them something that will benefit them. For example, If you go above the speed limit, you can get into trouble with the cops or even cause accidents. If you do it constantly, you may get your license revoked. If you get your license revoked, it becomes difficult to go to work. If you can’t go to work, you may lose your source of income.
- Emotional Appeals: You do this by connecting your message to the individual goals and values. You appeal to their emotions/hearts. For example, You need to live within your means so you can save money; if you are able to save money, you will be able to invest. If you can invest money, then you will get returns. The more you can save (in a good investment vehicle), the easier it will be to build wealth.
- Cooperative Appeals: You do this by looking for ways to collaborate with others and form alliances that will be mutually beneficial. Politicians should use cooperative appeal when negotiating with people from other political parties. Questions to ask will include, how can we work together?
Learning the act of appealing to others is of immense benefit, and it can help you influence them to achieve a common goal.
Beyond using appeal, you must also learn how to increase your influence, especially in the workplace. You do not necessarily have to be in a leadership position to start exerting your influence; you can start from where you are today and impact other people’s lives by learning the techniques behind influencing. If you know how to influence, people will respect you more, want to listen when you talk, value your opinion, and it can help your career progression.
- Improve your knowledge: Have you noticed how everyone listens to that one person in the office? Everyone respects his opinion, and not only that, they look forward to what he has to say. He always has the final say regarding decision-making – not because he necessarily holds a position of authority, but because he is the subject matter expert in the room. For me, that person was Jake in the old company I used to work with. He knows the products; he can almost close his eyes and find the cause of problems during troubleshooting. We all have Jakes around us. They influence the direction the company goes, provide solutions, and share helpful insights that move the organization forward. They are influential. If you want to increase your influence, it has to start from the inside and radiate outside. Pick up any subject of interest, learn and improve your competency, then you will be in a position to influence others. In my Podcast, I often talk about Career and Money Management – Now, I have more and more people asking me how to set up their retirement account, save and invest, and write their resumes. I am influencing people in my little way.
- Understand what people want: Here, we can learn from politicians by understanding how they influence the voters to win elections. They start by understanding what people want, and they come up with slogans to drive their message for them – whether it is “Make America Great Again” or “Build Back Better.” It is the same principle – Give people what they want, and you will influence them for good. To become an influencer, you must really understand what your connections want and do your best to deliver to them. If you can do that, you will be able to create a tribe of people that will love you, respect you, and most importantly, they will be willing to do anything for you – even without you asking. In the case of politicians, they will vote for you (in the case of politicians); they will buy your products and request your services because you have connected with their emotions – they now love and respect you. You are an influencer.
- Connect with others: There are no benefits in becoming a subject matter expert without sharing that knowledge with others. This is a way of giving back to others and helping them solve their problems. Again, going back to Jake, he was always willing to help everyone in the company. When you call upon him to ask for help, no matter the time of the day, he will always pick up his phone and share his knowledge to help you solve the problems. We can all learn from Jake. The way to connect with others is by putting their interest right at the center of your mind. Give them more of what they want, share your knowledge freely with them, and promote their interests. Connecting with people is a way of telling them that you see them, you feel them, and you understand their struggles and pains. You also let them know that you are a good advocate for their cause, and you exist to make their lives better. You have something to give to them, and their lives will be better off if they stay connected with you.
- Empower them: Everyone is on some form of journey in life. Some are on a journey to get out of debt, while others are trying to build a career, start a business, or find their true love and develop a healthy and loving relationship with their soulmates. If you can provide something to help people on their different journeys, you will become their influencer. You have suddenly become a go-to person that others look to for guidance and expert advice. You attain this status with them because you have become a trusted source of valuable information that has helped them in their journey. This is what Dave Ramsey does with his “Financial Peace University” program, where he provides tools and expert advice to help people get out of their mountains of debt. By empowering them, they will be able to continue on the journey until they achieve their goals – financial freedom, career progression, business ownership, etc. Your influence will keep growing as you continue to empower more people to accomplish their goals.
- Never break their trust: This is perhaps the most difficult for most people that have worked hard to build influence. They find themselves in a position where more people rely on their expert advice and opinion; they have become untouchable, with millions of ardent followers relying on what they say. Some of these influencers soon make the mistake of betraying people’s trust. They do this by putting personal gains over the interest of their multitude of followers. They may change their messages, become greedier, and add other items that will mislead people. If they continue with this negative pattern, their influence will come crashing down like a pack of cards, and they will lose the influence they once had on people. This is self-destructive; once you build influence, you need to ensure that you maintain your integrity and never forget what helped you reach your stardom.
Influencing others is about working with them and promoting mutual benefits. Never underestimate the influence you have on others, and don’t overestimate it, cautiously guide and maintain the trust that earned you the influence.