How To Influence People

Somebody told me yesterday that I was a big influence on them. When I heard that, I got tears in my eyes. This is a person that I’ve always looked up to. Now he’s telling me that he looks up to me too. What a great feeling!

But here is the interesting thing. I didn’t really try to guide this person in any direction. I’ve just always been myself and tried to do what I thought was right.  I know that sometimes I can be a tad on the stubborn side. If there is something that I feel strongly about, I do not budge on it.

This person told me that at times he would roll his eyes and think “give me a break” when I insisted on doing things a certain way. However, in the end he came to realize that the way I do things gave me peace of mind and made me really happy. He is now trying to replicate some of my techniques in his own life. It seems to be working little by little.

On the flip side, I did something at work that I always try not to do. I offered my opinion on a controversial topic. I try not to do this because my views are usually way out there on the fringe. When people hear something so out of the ordinary, their natural reaction is to scoff. I’ve even had people say to me “You’re kidding, right”? Once people get it in their head that your an eccentric, a lot of your credibility goes down the drain.

For this reason, it is really hard to get new and intriguing ideas out there. It is difficult to influence people. People already have their own ideas. In most cases, people’s ideas are the standard, generally accepted, opinions on a given range of matters. There isn’t anything wrong with this per se. People are busy. They don’t have time to read all of the latest research. A normal person hears something on the news or reads it in the paper. If it sounds plausible they run with it.

After a certain amount of time, people form an attachment to their ideas. Its kind of like those old t-shirts that you have and don’t want to throw away. Its not that the t-shirts are so great. Its just that they’re your t-shirts. If somebody, like a roommate, were to go into your closet and throw them away without your permission, you’d be pretty upset.

So, you can’t just attack a person’s ideas with a frontal assault. You need to take a more strategic approach. If you have new ideas that you think are worth getting out there, you have to make them appealing but without coming off like a pushy weirdo.

Writing is a very effective medium for this. People don’t feel threatened when they’re reading something. Anytime they come across something that they don’t like, the can abort the mission. This provides a sense of security. Further, because they don’t have a weird person in their face, spouting strange ideas, people are much more likely to give the written word a hearing. Writing has an aura of respectability. If somebody has taken the time to write something, it seems like they know what they’re talking about.

But most of us don’t have the time, or the desire, to put our far out ideas in writing. Or, perhaps our target audience doesn’t read much. This leaves the job of marketing your ideas up to you. You’ll have to do some direct selling. Face to face.

So, how can this be done?

The single most important thing is to prove the success of your methods. The way to do this is by being a happy person, who people like to be around, and whom they can respect. You need to leave people with the feeling that when you’re around, things are going to be good.

There is no way to create this feeling artificially. In other words, things actually have to be good when you’re around. This means you actually have to be good person. You have to be smart. You have to be happy. You have to be competent. People need to know you care, etc.

Once this feeling of appreciation and trust develops, then you’ll have your opportunity to get a hearing. But, you still don’t offer up your new ideas. You wait and you wait and you wait. Sooner or later, some topic will arise, and your colleagues will ask you “What do you think”? You answer “Do you really want to know”? They’ll say “Yes for God’s sake you respectable SOB!” Then you let them have it. Even if the idea is not what they’re expecting, the weight of your pre-earned reputation will be behind it.

Friends and associates may not accept your view immediately. But the seed will be planted. They’ll think “I’ve never looked at it that way. It’s such a weird way to think about it. It seems impossible. But, if so and so thinks that way, maybe there is something to it.” If your ideas are the real deal, success is not far away. The more the person contemplates, the more inevitable their transformation becomes.

The key to influencing people starts with you. Stop worrying about changing other people. Start working on yourself. Change yourself into somebody that people want to listen to; that people solicit opinions from.

Here are some tips for becoming an influential person:

1. Read all the time. It doesn’t matter what. Just read something. It makes you smart.

2. Ask tons of questions and listen intently to the answers. Everybody likes to talk about themselves. Let them.

3. Work hard, show up on time, and never call in sick. People need to know that they can depend on you.

4. Smile all the time. People love smiles, but they have to be real, sincere smiles. Try to find an amusing idiosyncrasy in everybody you meet. Think of it when you’re around them.

5. Be family oriented. True happiness starts in the home. Spend a lot of time with spouse and/or kids and/or other loved ones. Talk to your parents a lot.

6. Save your money. There is something confidence inspiring about having money in the bank.

These things have helped me. I hope they help you too.

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One Response to How To Influence People

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love this!!!!

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