As an individual, one personal resource that many people overlook is influence. Influence can be used to get things done, to help you get ahead personally, or to see your team advance in ways that would have been impossible without it. Here are some tips for increasing your influence:
- Listen – When you spend time in conversation with someone (customer, supervisor, peer), make sure you listen to what’s being said. Many people don’t do this very well and miss an opportunity. When people perceive you’re sincerely listening to them, they will share more freely and more honestly. Having more information in a business or personal exchange usually opens the door for you to gain influence in the exchange.
- Pay attention – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in dialogue with a sales person and thought, “This person is trying to work their agenda, rather than concerning themselves with ascertaining my needs.” You’ve experienced this. Don’t be that person. Pay attention to what your customer, supervisor, or peer is saying or doing rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next or how you will move things toward your own goals.
- Remember names – In my business, I meet a lot of people on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. Taking time to remember people’s names has proven to be a strong relationship builder.
- Plan ahead – Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Looking ahead to what’s coming down the pipe in your own situations and for your customers will give you a chance to prepare for circumstances that may arise. If you’re prepared, you’ll be ready when things happen to help meet the needs or lead your team forward.
- Say “thank you” – When someone does something nice for you, even if it’s a person in a drive-thru window, take time to say a sincere “thank you”. It might just make the other person smile, or it could make their day. Hand-written thank you notes are a powerful way to go the extra mile in a business or personal exchange. (I have written more here on the power of “thank you” and other meaningful phrases for leaders.)