The Trick to Influence

Xperience Growthblogposts

Relationships are built on influence. If nothing else, we’re influencing people to like us and spend time with us.

Our relationships can be tricky. Really, anytime people are involved with anything it’s tricky. Humans are tricky.

There is at least one trick to gain influence that will help you build better & stronger relationships. That trick is to gain influence by who you are and not what you say.

Modeling what your values and beliefs are more likely to bring people to you than telling people that they should share your values and beliefs.

Telling someone what they should think or do can make that person feel you’re saying they are wrong. Even if you don’t mean it that way. Many times, when we’re made to feel wrong, we push back and want to be right. If the other person reacts that way, we’re now in conflict. Influence is not gained and the relationship is weaker.

How does this play out in real life? Look no further than social media. There’s a connection of mine that makes posts & shares articles with commentary that are not my viewpoints. I read those posts as if this person is arguing that I should believe what they believe. I become agitated because I believe what I think is right… and therefore, they must be wrong. I’ve “written” so many responses to the posts in my head to combat what was originally shared. Ultimately, I decided to turn off the posts because I realized that I was spending too much mental energy “responding” to the post.

Do you find yourself doing the same thing online? My bet is yes!

Here’s why:

People go into “conflict” mode when they think they are being made wrong. When people are in conflict, the default thought is “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Conflict brings out the fight in our flight or fight instincts. And, most importantly to our relationships, they look for conflict elsewhere. So, even if you don’t mean to upset someone, we can trigger anger or frustration by arguing with them.

Telling people what to do isn’t the best for us, either. Arguing – even if we’re not being “augmentative” – creates stress in us. When we tell someone what they are thinking or doing is wrong or that we’re right, we are in conflict. We feel the need to be “right” and are typically not able to see any other viewpoints. Because other viewpoints could make us “wrong” when we’re viewing the world through a right vs wrong lens, we are not open to anything else.

How do we shift from telling people what to do to showing people through our own actions? I turn to John Maxwell. In his classic leadership book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, among other laws that speak to this, he outlines the Law of the Picture.

The Law of the Picture essentially says that people will do what they see. It breaks down into 4 principles.

  1. People are always watching what you’re doing. Our actions speak louder than our words and will influence what people will think and will do.
  2. It’s easier to teach what is right than do what is right. This is the “do what I say, not what I do” principle. We all know what happens when we don’t walk our talk…
  3. We should work on changing ourselves before we try to change others. The reality is that the only person that we can change is ourselves. So, that is where we should focus.
  4. The most valuable gift a leader can give is being a good example. The book shares a poll that shows what is important to employees about their leader. Nearly 50% of respondents said “leading by example” and “strong ethics or morals” are the most important aspects of the person leading them.

Strong relationships do not come through force. It comes from alignment and the willingness for people to be aligned. The trick to influence and strengthen relationships is to show people who you are.