Influencing people is an art, and influencers have learnt how to excel and create a series of experiences that leave an impact on others around them.
Before you start reading this article, I would like you to go through a small test. I request you to be honest while you are answering.
- Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
- Name the last five winners of Miss Universe.
- Name 10 people who won the Nobel Prize for peace.
Were you able to answer all of them without taking a break or without googling? If you weren’t able to, let’s try to do it again. This time with simpler questions.
- Name five teachers who added to your journey through school.
- Name five friends who helped you through the darkest hours.
- Name five people that taught you something worthwhile.
I am confident that you must have been able to answer this particular set of questions.
If you look at the first set of questions, they are headlines which took every newspaper, news channel, and social media feeds by storm at some point in time. These individuals are perhaps the best in what they do. So, why is it that we don’t remember them? Why do we have to Google answers to these questions? Is it because no one cares enough to remember bygones?
Do you remember yesterday’s headlines? They can be easily forgotten, isn’t it? Applause dies a quick death. Awards and achievements are shelved.
Take a look at the second set of questions. They can be answered at any point in time. These are the people who have managed to influence your life. They are special to you.
Do you have that one friend from school you can call at 3 am in the morning for life advice? You might not speak throughout the year, but you ensure that you wish them without fail on their birthday. Do you know why? That is because you’ve created memories and had experiences together; experiences that have left an impact. Every time you recall the time spent, you feel empowered.
Influencers have this very potential. They create a series of such experiences that leave an impact strong enough to bring about a change in your life. Influencing people is an art. Let’s say you are a manager or you have your own startup, wouldn’t you want to get work done without much hassle? It is one thing to have self-motivated employees, but imagine if you could motivate your team to work. Would implementing the art of influence help?
If you know how to influence, you have the ability to create impressions. It helps you keep everyone together in adverse times. Let’s take an example. You are running a company. There is a lot of conflict between the marketing head and the legal counsel. Will the productivity of work suffer? Yes. However, if you can talk them out of their conflict, you might be able to make your workspace conflict-free and more productive.
My boss strongly recommended I read a book - Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People. Fun fact: even though this book was published in 1937, it still remains a best-seller. Do you know why? It touched a nerve with millions and developed a thirst that was more than a faddish phenomenon in the post-depression days.
This article is in special reference to this book. It is a dedication, if you may say so. Although the book helps you in eight main ways, I will try to cover five major points to the best of my capability to help you figure the art of influencing.
1. Get out of that mental rut
A major quality of an influencer is that he is full of new thoughts and ideas. He has the potential to think on point at the right time and give viable solutions. A good influencer gains experiences through meeting people and trying to understand their story.
These are real-life experiences which help build influence. Think of it yourself, you only tend to read books to which you can relate. As soon as the content becomes unreliable you tend to keep the book away.
This also applies to the people we speak to. As an influencer, you need to build a connection with the people you are trying to influence. In order to do that you need to understand where they are coming from. You need to have a vision and you need others to relate to that vision. I’ll give you an instance. While I was working as an HR Manager for a startup which employed nearly seven women and 10 men, I could see a lot of safety issues cropping up. I decided to convince the team to take up a course on sexual harassment for the betterment of the organisation and in order to be compliant with the law. I couldn’t convince the team to take the course until I took the course myself. Once I had understood the complexities involved and how it would evolve the organisation into a safer space, I managed to convince everyone to take up the course. After we completed the course, the team collectively managed to design a comprehensive sexual harassment policy used by the company to date.
2. Handle complaints, avoid arguments
How an individual handle complaints is a clear indication of the person he is.
An influencer is always expected to keep his cool in adverse situations and bring people to a common consensus. This ability is developed by handling complaints peacefully and calmly. It is your duty to see to it that individuals involved are brought to peace. For example, the other day, my manager and I got into an unnecessary argument. I was getting extremely hyper about a certain issue. My boss intervened and said, “Aditya, your point is valid.” My reaction to this was to say thank you. I was calm. He continued, “But what your manager says makes sense because we cannot keep waiting. So what should we do?” By now I had already mellowed down. I could make sense of what my manager was saying and agreed to it.
This is an effective solution. What my boss did was avoid an argument through appreciation and then got us to agree to what was best for the company. An influence should try to ensure that relationships go unharmed in the process of resolving conflicts.
3. Gain knowledge
An influencer should know what he is doing. A person who does not come with enough knowledge can be questioned easily. Nobody wants to listen to people who speak with no knowledge. A certain celebrity from the film industry was asked about her opinion on the Naz Foundation judgment by the Supreme Court. She confidently went ahead and called Section 377 as Article 377 throughout her monologue. As a Bollywood celebrity, she already possessed the power to influence; however, the tiny faux pas she made in calling a Section an Article (for all those who know the difference and don’t) was all I could concentrate on.
My boss did not like the very first article I wrote. I had to write about business laws. The content I created was by googling. My article reflected that I had very little knowledge of business laws. Since a majority of my work requires me to write papers on business laws, I changed my approach and took up a course on Entrepreneurship and Business Administration. The knowledge I gained did not just change the way I write but also what I write.
Thus, it is immensely important for you to have knowledge of the area you want to work in. An easy way to do it is by speaking to industry experts, reading as much as you can, taking up courses that can help you achieve such knowledge, speaking with experts, and gaining as much experience as you can.
4. Be a good administrator
While speaking to one of our students who took a course on Entrepreneurship and Business Administration, he said “Administration is not a skill you are born, it is developed over time. You need to ensure that people are dealt with a lot of patience, and their ideas are deeply respected without compromising the strategies of the management. Administration either gets too stiff or too easy; a balance needs to be struck between the two for better results.”
An influencer needs to know this balance. He needs to ensure that an employee can trust and confide in him. Once the employees start doing that, they would automatically listen to the administration because they will believe they are working in consonance with them.
5. Arouse enthusiasm among your associates
Most organisations that suffer because of low productivity or employee retention rate are the ones where employees are unhappy. Their frustration arises because of two reasons. Either they feel that they are not given due credit for the work they are doing or they are frustrated with the kind of work allocated to them. Both these issues need to be dealt with effectively.
As an influencer, it is your duty to address this issue. The person who is demotivated must be given sufficient amount of perspective. This can be done through a pep talk or over a personal meal with the employee. If the employee is frustrated with the kind of work they are doing, as an influencer you need to be convincing for them to believe that the work they are doing is an opportunity. They should make the most of it to grow and develop.
Being able to influence gives an opportunity to you to win people over. The minute you are able to hone these skills and become an influencer, your work, personal life, and even productivity will increase.
Influencers bring about a change around them. Can you be one?
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)