Skills 360 – How to Influence People (1)

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Welcome back to the Skills 360 for today’s lesson how to influence people.

So there are many different reasons why you might want to influence people. Maybe you’re trying to get their support for your idea, or maybe you want to inspire them, or maybe you want to convince them to do something. Whatever the case may be, I think you’ll find the techniques we’re going to learn today very useful for winning people over.

First I want to look at what you should focus on when you speak to others. And that doesn’t mean just talking about yourself or your idea, as people might stop listening. Instead, try starting with the ‘why’ instead of the ‘what’. That is, give people a reason to listen to your idea, then give them your idea.

For example, say you believe that your company’s marketing budget should be decreased. Instead of starting with that idea, set it up with compelling reasons first. That might sound like “we’ve had a pretty surprising dip in profits this past year.” Or maybe it’s “Gerry from marketing came to me and said they’re going to come in under budget again.” Or maybe you’re trying to sell something. In this case, don’t begin with a list of product features, like “the X300 comes with 16 gigabytes of RAM…” Instead, start with why that RAM might be important. For example, you might say “speed matters.”

Now here’s another thing: focus on the connection between other people and you, and the connection between ideas and life. What do I mean by that? Well, if you want to influence someone, show how you have similar values or experiences, like this: “So, I know we have all had some problems with this new software…” Or maybe this: “It’s pretty clear that everyone here is concerned about costs…” Showing a common interest will help make people more receptive to you, and your ideas.

As for the connection between ideas and life, remember that most people don’t deal in abstractions. They think about ground level experience. If we think again about that example of trying to persuade someone to buy a new computer. Don’t just talk about what the computer can do, talk about how that translates into a better experience for the user. In the end, isn’t that what really matters?

And when I say you need to connect ideas with life, I’m talking about other people’s lives, not yours. You need to appeal to people’s desires, interests, dreams, and hopes. That starts with getting people to talk about themselves. It’s amazing how much people will like or trust you if you just let them bend your ear about what they want or hope for. Ask them questions. Show interest. It will not only make them feel good, it will give you useful information.

Useful how? Well, you’ll know what interests them or drives their desires. Then you can tailor what you say to match that. So if someone mentions their passion for football, you can drop in a nice metaphor like “we seem to be playing from behind on a muddy pitch here.” Or if it seems clear that someone wants to appear smart, then you can compliment them on their intelligence.

You see, different people might require different approaches. Some are logical, in which case you should use logic. Some are emotional, in which case you can use emotion. Basically, you need to play off their personality, their desires, and their hopes. And what will happen is they will feel a greater connection, greater trust, and greater interest. And that equates with greater influence.

But still, influencing someone doesn’t just mean making someone feel good. Like I said earlier, maybe you want to persuade them, or inspire them, or sell them something. And to do these things, it also matters how you talk about your ideas. For one thing, you should demonstrate passion. Create energy around yourself and your ideas. Don’t say “good,” say “fantastic!” Passion is like a magnet. It draws people in and makes them want to be involved. And here’s another thing, you should create a sense of urgency. Whatever you’re talking about, you should do it in a way that makes people think action is required now not later.

All right, let’s recap these ideas: If you want to influence people, you need to start with why, not what. You also need to make connections between yourself and others, and between your ideas an other people’s lives. Appeal directly to what makes people tick. And always remember to wear your passion on your sleeve.

That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon!

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